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The Dictator - Film Review

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by Adam Ray Palmer (subscribe)
A film reviewer, a poem dabbler and an admirer of words. They are funny things aren't they? Words, where would we be without them? On TV probably.
Published September 17th 2012
Borat The Dictatorů

The headline may look slightly misleading, however, if you have seen the latest title from Sacha Baron Cohen's franchise of comedy, then you would understand.


From the initial opening sequences, we see what the film will entail. We know it will be slapstick gags, toilet humour and racially unstable one-liners. This is what we expect from Sacha, the modern day comic genius. Nonetheless, for me, this movie fails to deliver such promised shocking humour.

In an interview a few months before 'The Dictator's release, a question was posed to Cohen stating "Will your new film be as scandalous as 'Borat' and 'Bruno'? Sacha's answer was an assured "yes" commenting that it will be better than the previous two box office hits.

This is where I come in. As I was watching this latest instalment from Cohen, I couldn't help but notice something lacking, and then it struck me. It was exactly what Sacha had promised; the natural shock humour wasn't there at all. The beauty of 'Borat' and 'Bruno' was the reaction from the public as Cohen would disgust them with his ways. Although, in another interview, I do understand what Sacha meant when he said he is becoming too famous to do characters in America and UK, but aren't their more countries? Additionally, the amount of real-life costumes available today is incredible, so he can definitely still cover up. I think the word 'lazy' is probably slightly harsh but I do think Cohen has cashed in too early here because this movie was easy to produce.

The character General Aladeen is just like another version of Borat, maybe a more privilege version of the Kazakhstan TV reporter. Is the generic Eastern accent the only voice Cohen can do now? I think the film struggles this time because mainly the character was not as strong or well-thought out compared to Borat and Bruno.

Nevertheless, there are a few scenes that made me chuckle. One sequence being when Aladeen beds Megan Fox, yes, the Megan Fox. This scene is quite self-explanatory for why I like it. Another amusing scene is when Aladeen is working in a local supermarket (watch to understand why) and he kicks a child into cardboard boxes, then slaps a man to the floor and chucks a bin of rubbish into the road. This mini sequence was entertaining.

The Verdict
The Dictator' to me has not done Cohen's talent justice. He needs to take some blame but not all. The character development was poor, the jokes needed working on and of course I think he should go back to his shocking humour and reaction comedy. However, the blame is split. This is another movie dammed by too much hype (admittedly it didn't help by Cohen saying 'The Dictator' is better than his previous hits). Due to Sacha's previous films and their huge success, this film would always be scrutinized to see if it matched up. It just fails to deliver the natural shock humour, great memorable scenes and characters we will grow to love.

So, what's next for the comic genius? I believe he needs to go back to his roots of jolting his audience rather than planned laughter, because this is what made Cohen different - and we loved him for it.

Star Rating: 2/5
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Where: On DVD & Blu-ray
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