This outlandish comedy chronicles the glorious efforts of despotic General Aladeen, dictator of the Republic of Wadiya, to oppress his people and fight democracy. Helping the tyrant maintain his rule at all costs is an all-female security force.
5 out of 10
I have to start the review out by saying this might be the shortest film I’ve ever seen in the theater. I looked up on IMDB after I saw it and the running time was a shrunken 81 minutes. I feel like I barely started eating my popcorn and the credits were rolling. I am by no means equating the quality of a film with how long it is but if I’m paying 10 bucks a ticket, give me my fucking money’s worth!
That said, the film itself is predictable and corny. It’s certainly not terrible and Sacha Baren Cohen is supremely likeable in everything he does, including this. But, the main problem is that it has so few laughs. Most of the best parts are in the trailer and the rest of the movie feels like going on a zip line ride: It starts exciting, then you wonder what the big deal is, then it’s over and you’re out 20 bucks. I was a huge fan of Borat. That movie had belly laugh moments that were absolutely brilliant. The opening in Kazakhstan is priceless, the characters are memorable, and the real life moments with actual people are fantastic. The Dictator, unfortunately, is completely scripted. I don’t know if that is a byproduct of Cohen becoming so famous now that he can’t fool people like he did before or if they just didn’t have any good ideas. But, it’s a glaring absence when that’s the backbone of what Borat so special.
Are there some funny moments? I can think of a few. There is one sequence where the Dictator is having discussions that sound like a terrorist attack in his native tongue in front of two horrified old white people. Another involves him explaining why a dictatorship is better than a Democracy and using examples that hit close to home. These are very good moments but the overall picture feels rushed and flawed. I hope in his next film he gets back to basics because this feels like a misstep.