The Dictator

★★ (R)

Sacha Baron Cohen might just be the funniest guy in movies. 2005's Borat was not just funny, it's now a comedy classic. Expectations were high for Cohen's latest incarnation as an oppressive, western hating dictator. However The Dictator has failed at the box office and reviews were lukewarm. What went wrong? You have to look at the  resulting movie which is encompassed by hit and miss jokes. The problem isn't with the newly sketched character Cohen has given us - it's actually quite inspired on paper. The problem lies with the fact that Cohen's first two films -Borat and Bruno- were what I'd call guerilla style documentary filmmaking. A glorious mix of fact and fiction that made us entertainingly cringe under our seats all in the while laughing hysterically at the absurdity that was happening on screen. The Dictator is a result of Cohen delving his satirical teeth into fiction film and striking out. The pacing is average, the screenplay terribly conceived and the style -by director Larry Charles- almost juvenile.

The film's title character is one Haffaz Alladeen (Cohen) - a bizarre dictator of the oil-rich African nation of Wadiya. Alladeen is as egotistical and ruthless as dictators come, executing anyone who disagrees with him by using his signature "head chop" signal. Alladeen is summoned by the UN to address their concerns about his nuclear program. That's when things get complicated and Alladeen's assistant, played by Ben Kingsley, tries to take control of the operations and rid Alladeen of his powers. Anna Faris plays Alladeen's New York City girl and she couldn't have been more miscast. In fact, there really isn't much good to say about a film that tries to be funny but ends up being the opposite. The R rating given to the film usually spells laughs for many comedies in the studio system but here it doesn't get used in an advantageous way. Cohen has proven that he has endless talent and one can go past his brilliant impersonations (Ali G, Bruno, Borat) and right into the supporting roles he's had in films such as Sweeney Todd and Hugo to see just what I'm talking about. He's an actor that deserves our attention, The Dictator is his sour note.