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Saturday, December 15, 2012

"The Dictator", inoffensive political parody

The Dictator

Probably the worse thing that can happen to a comedy is not that it doesn't make you laugh (probably the person next to you will be falling off his knees, laughter is a subjective issue). The worst is that you just don't care about it after the first ten minutes, and since then passes unnoticed. Unfortunately, that's what happened to me while watching "The Dictator".

It's quite sad, because the premise was promising. The idea of Sacha Baron Cohen playing the role of a very stupid, crazy, cartoon tyrant ruling the imaginary state of Wadiya, becoming a major concern for international community, who threatens his reign of terror, had potential. Cohen's ability to push the limits with his gags, and the political background of the film was an attractive combination. In principle.

I was hoping for a mix between "Four Lions" and "Borat" (both unbalanced films, but also brave and interesting). But you don't need many minutes to realise that "The Dictator" is nowhere near both films. General Admiral Haffaz Aladeen could have been an hilarious new incarnation for the British irreverent comedian, but it doesn't have a proper script to shine or develop. Director Larry Charles develops a lame story, including some pretty ridiculous situations (some involving such an actor like Ben Kingsley, completely lost in the film) and a quite embarrassing love story, in which Cohen's tries to introduce his gags. But the slapdash style works in very few occasions, and the whole Brooklyn's organic-vegan-multicultural food store (Anna Faris' role is incredibly shallow) is annoying. All in all, it harms what should have been the main focus of the film, the political parody, which looks inoffensive, patronised, too planned and predictable... and not very funny. As, I said, very far from the radicality of "Four Lions", or the funniest moments of "Borat".

With the exceptions of a couple of gags and half of Aladeen's final speech (there's a glimpse of brilliance there, before it quickly goes back to the "mundane"), "The Dictator" keeps going with fluidity, but nothing to remark. Or laugh about it.

SCORE: 4/10

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