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Jokingly dedicated to “the loving memory of Kim Jong Il,” “The Dictator” is the latest irreverent comedy from director Larry Charles and star Sacha Baron Cohen. This one is a satire of dictatorship but the movie also skewers democracy as we know it.
“The Dictator’s” tone is closer to the oddly sweet charm of “Borat” but it also showcases over-the-top cheekiness exuded in “Bruno.” If you enjoy Cohen’s brand of humor, then get ready to bow down to “The Dictator.”
Cohen is Admiral General Aladeen, a North African dictator from the fictional North African country of the Republic of Wadiya. Together with his mysterious sidekick, Tamir (Oscar-winner Sir Ben Kingsley), the dictator is set to oppress democracy in his homeland at all costs.
The first part of the film is smartly written and invites us inside the life of a ruthless but clueless dictator. But once Aladeen travels to New York City to speak at the United Nations, the film becomes a hodge podge of “The Prince and the Pauper” and “Coming to America” with a little dash of “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.”
That’s not to say that the second half of the movie is bad. Thanks to the support of Anna Faris and Jason Mantzoukas, the last act of the film drives home the film’s main point.
Faris, sporting a Justin Bieber haircut, stars as Zoey, a vegan activist who owns an organic shop in New York. Her character serves as the catharsis of the movie and is the sweet center of the film.
Mantzoukas is Nadal, the exiled Wadiyan scientist hiding in New York who ends up saving the life of the dictator who wanted him dead. A movie as raunchy and silly as “The Dictator” needs the counterbalance provided by Faris and Mantzoukas.
Cohen co-wrote the script with Alec Berg, David Mandel, and Jeff Schaffer. The trio, who used to work on “Seinfeld,” returned to TV to write, direct, and produce HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Their brand of humor is shockingly funny (with lines such as “America, built by blacks, owned by Chinese”), absurd, and nearly perfect in their observation of capitalism. Aladeen has a great, big monologue near the end that sums up the movie’s conceit.
One of my favorite scenes involves a pregnant woman and how she helps Aladeen and Zoey realize their love for each other. Without giving anything away, just think of the appropriate placement for the lovers to hold hands involving a woman who’s about to give birth.
Absurd, I told you.
In the grand tradition of Cohen and Charles, there are many cameos to be had. The most famous one, of course, is the involvement of Megan Fox. But wait, there’s more! And just like “Borat” and “Bruno,” copious amounts of male full-frontal nudity are displayed for laughs.
“The Dictator” is a flawed, uneven film that gets funnier as it nears the end of its short 83-minute running time. The best part of the movie is it actually makes you question yourself for laughing. Is a film about a merciless dictator funny? I say yes or the supreme leader will chop my head off.
RATING: “THE DICTATOR” 3 KISSES
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Want to see the teaser trailer for "Anchorman 2?" Ron Burgundy aka Will Ferrell, announced that a teaser trailer for the "Anchorman" sequel will appear exclusively on "The Dictator" beginning at midnight tomorrow!
Then, Burgundy followed with a tweet saying “I don't know what a teaser trailer is either but they say you all will. When did the world get so crazy? I'm having a scotch."
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Sir Ben Kingsley is always a great interviewee. He told us everything we wanted to know in “Hugo” (See Kingsley “Hugo” interview right here), and now, he gallant us with tales from “The Dictator.” In this interview, we talked about:
*** Watching “The Dictator” with fans
*** Why would an Oscar-winner join a film like “The Dictator?”
*** His mysterious character, Tamir
*** The true meaning of democracy
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Anna Faris Talks “The Dictator,” Working with Always in Character Sacha Baron Cohen, Justin Bieber’s Haircut
I love Anna Faris! She’s always sweet in person! I’ve interviewed her before in “Take Me Home Tonight” and “Yogi Bear” and now “The Dictator” where she plays the sweet but feisty Zoey. In this interview, we talked about:
*** Her Justin Bieber haircut
*** Her interest in making “The Dictator”
*** Her cathartic character
*** Working with Sacha Baron Cohen who’s always in character throughout production
*** The true meaning of democracy
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