Film Festival Today

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Film Review: “The Dictator”

Written by: FFT Webmaster | May 18th, 2012

**1/2OUT OF 4

Director Larry Charles (“Borat”, “Bruno”) this time directs a scripted film rather than a guerilla- mockumentary and gets mixed results. Sasha Baron Cohen’s portrait of Admiral General Aladeen, ruler of a fictional oil-rich country in Northern Africa jokingly called Wadiya misses the mark by too often relying on moronic vulgarity and gross out depictions for its humor. Nevertheless there are many hilarious sequences and for sheer audacity one must admire the gutsy direction taken with some of the material.

The film opens on a high point as it dedicates itself to the memory of the late tyrannical dictator of Northern Korea Kim Jong Il and depicts Aladeen winning 14 Gold Medals in a self designed Olympics in which he “shoots to death” his competitors while running an absurdly short race. There are satirical flourishes that succeed as well including a sequence n which Aladeen pretends to be a surgeon and asks a pregnant woman if she is having a boy or an abortion.  There is a funny cameo featuring Megan Fox as a sexual dalliance for the esteemed ruler and a closing featured speech towards the end of the movie comparing our American government to a dictatorship which becomes a poignant critique of our so-called democracy.    But, too often than not the script seems to struggle. Aladeen is shown executing his subordinates for the silliest of perceived offenses and his dumping of his own urine on the Israeli ambassador while addressing the United Nations is disgusting and frankly reprehensible.   Baron Cohen’s “shtick” gets old far too quickly as his accent and prejudices become boring.

The romantic comedy clichés and crass sexual jokes are cheap shots and beneath the versatile Cohen’s capabilities.  There is talk of Cohen playing the late Freddie Mercury in a film about the rock superstar who died of complications from the A.I.D.S. virus. I look forward to this gifted performer trying out a new direction with his acting career. Its time for Barron Cohen to retire General Aladeen.

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