"The Dictator" is a comedy of excess
By now, it's fair to say moviegoers know to check their political correctness at the door of any of Sacha Baron Cohen's flicks. He most certainly has, and it's best to meet the um, artist, at his level.
"The Dictator," Cohen's latest tasteless romp, is no exception. The movie centers on Admiral General Aladeen, the overlord of the fictional Middle Eastern Republic of Wadiya. He's ruthless, temperamental and a complete idiot. But, he also has a vulnerable side – a side effect of his self-imposed position on his tyrannical pedestal ("I'm so rone-ry," anyone?).
After a botched assassination attempt leaves Aladeen to fend for himself in the filthy democratic hotbed of personal freedom that is New York City, he discovers a wealth of new emotions, plenty of opportunities for fish-out-of-absolute-power humor and even love with a granola-munching eco-hippie (Anna Faris). Awww.
Cohen has no problem thinking up ploys to dispense his scathing mix of satire, slapstick and crude humor. The problem is he doesn't know where to draw the line. Obviously, it's not his status as an equal-opportunity offender that's the surprise – what I'm talking about is his actual execution of said barbs.
Most of the schtick feels like indecisive amalgamations of every laugh that was whiteboarded in the writers' room. The punchlines fly fast and furious like extra takes better left for the gag reel. The first one's great, the second one's decent, and the third is followed by two or three more until Cohen moves on to another subject of ridicule. It's sad overkill that mars an otherwise good, subversive comedy.
I wish I could give "The Dictator" a rating as extreme and divisive as its content. But, The Worst/Best Film of the Year it is not. It's merely a flick that had the potential to wallow in "I'm-going-to-hell-for-laughing-at-this" goodness, but instead smothered itself in it.
Theaters and showtimes for The Dictator
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