Movie Review: “The Dictator” – Commands No Presence

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What happened? What were Sacha Baron Cohen and the several other writers doing? I couldn’t imagine much of anything that could’ve been more important than properly writing this movie, but I guess there was something. As a fan of both Cohen and comedy, The Dictator is an utter disappointment.

Fans that enjoyed Larry Charles documentary style direction should be disappointed too. It’s missing. Seriously, who was tired of that? Who walked into a meeting for the planning of this movie and said: “you know that unique documentary style on these last few movies? Let’s get rid of that.” More importantly, who said yes?

Every joke and every scene for that matter is about 10 or 15 seconds too long. There’ll be a scene where the not even hilariously inept main character will create a legitimately humorous moment, but then it’ll just go on and on, essentially repeating itself until even the slowest audience member is patiently waiting for the next scene transition. Most gags in the movie are like a child’s attempt to blow the biggest possible bubble with his gum; overinflated until eventually it pops, leaving a disappointed and messy child with no gum to enjoy whatsoever.

I’ve enjoyed Cohen’s antics myself, so I’ve got to ask: where’s the controversy? What we’ve come to expect from Cohen was satire in the form of some odd character. Here, we fans receive a watery, 2-dimensional archetype that fails to offend anyone. It was hilarious that even though Borat was satirical of anti-Semitism, the Anti-Defamation League made a slight fuss over it. And it was hilarious that even though Bruno was satirical of homophobia, LGBT groups criticized it. But, it feels as though The Dictator pulled all of the punches possible and because of this Cohen’s usually sharp blade of satire is dull this time around.

I can’t help but compare this to Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. It’s quite similar in many ways. Whereas that movie was blatantly unsubtle and used too many overly similar jokes, at least I can say I liked it.

By: Khalil Beckwith

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