Monday, May 21, 2012

The Dictator review; a great satire about politics, foreign policy and the American way of life

Sacha Baron Cohen has been called many things during his career.  Some people call him repulsive, and others call him a genius.  I'm with the in between crowd.  Some of his previous work, most notably  Borat, was a bit crude for my taste.  But the way Cohen had the ability to work people over was sheer genius.  He followed up that film with Bruno.  Using a similar style of going undercover, he was becoming an international star.  So up now?  The Dictator, the actors first starring role in a scripted comedy.  Let's go.

What I liked about the film:
The Acting/Characters
Comedies usually don't get the recognition they should when it comes to acting.  Comedy is so incredibly difficult, and Cohen makes it look so easy.  His portrayal of a North African dictator is hilarious and sincere.  As important as the former is, so too is the latter.  If Cohen plays the part over the top, it becomes shtick comedy and pretty much anyone can do that.  But if he's too serious, it's not funny.  Cohen is great in his great timing and delivery.

Three supporting actors deserve some recognition as well.  Sir Ben Kingsley is his usual great self.  He plays the dictators uncle who may not be as loyal as we think.  Jason Mantzoukas plays the dictators side-kick and partner in crime.  He is funny and helps with the exposition needed to explain plot points.  Anna Faris plays the love interest, with totally opposite ideals to that of the dictator.  I thought it was brilliant how they made the two characters exact opposites in so many ways.  Faris plays the part with the same sincerity she did in the Scary Movies.  Her character may not have been the brightest, but she was the most honest.

The Writing/Satire
How fitting is this movie after 2011's Arab Spring.  The film comes a year after we saw one dictator after another fall.  My parents are from this region of the world, and I have to tell you, it made the movie that much funnier for me!  If you can't laugh at yourself, you can't laugh at anything.  Cohen, Alec Berg, David Mandel and Jeff Schaffer wrote a great script poking fun at so many people, that it's going to be hard for any ONE particular group to be offended.  It's current and smart, two of my favorite aspects of any comedy.  The climax offers up a hillarious speech that will have us all laughing at our government, and then have us asking, "Wait, what the hell?"

The Soundtrack
Believe it or not, the soundtrack is funny in and of itself.  It takes popular American songs and translates them in foreign languages.  It was a funny surprise seeing the dictator character march down the streets of New York to the beat of a Dr. Dre song with Arabic lyrics.  So funny!

What I didn't like about the film:
Some of the jokes in the film are used over and over again.  This gets old really quickly.  But have no fear, there is enough material in the film to view this as a simple oversight.

The Verdict:
We Need More Comedies Like This
I am a fan of the smart and relative comedies.  Films like The Dictator don't come around very often.  They're smart, they make you think and reflect.  I wasn't the biggest fan of Cohen's Borat, and decided not to see Bruno.  But Talladega Nights is one of my favorite films (comedy or otherwise), of all time.  Cohen has proven with that film, as well as The Dictator, he can handle a script; and then make fun of you without knowing it.

1 comment:

buddy2blogger said...

Nice review of the movie.

Check out my review .