Monday, May 21, 2012

What kind of sorcery is this?

If you couldn't tell by the poorly written sentences, the juvenile sense of humor or the constant self-deprecation, I'm a middle school English teacher. Wait, an inner-city middle school English teacher. I spend my professional life trying to convince 7th graders that reading and writing actually means something. Their responses and performances have led me to one single truth: I am not easily offended.

Sacha Baron Cohen has made a career crafting comedies filled with characters who routinely say and do very offensive things. The Dictator continues this trend, but sheds the faux-documentary angle in favor of a more traditional comedy. Don't worry, the hallmarks are still here. Clueless/racially insensitive main character? Check. A journey of an improbable nature? Oh yes. Lots of politically incorrect gags? 10-4. We going to need a dick shot, too, right? Right.

Male nudity is one of Cohen's calling cards, and though it isn't seared into my memory like the fat, naked guy from Borat, or the talking pecker from Bruno, he certainly puts the dick in Dictator. Honestly, this didn't offend me at all. The fact that there weren't any boobs bothered me a hell of a lot more. And no, the milking scene doesn't count. Okay, maybe it does a little bit.

I guess while I'm talking about dicks, I should mention that our main character Admiral General Aladeen is a huge one. In his home country he is a vicious overlord who has people killed for the slightest of offenses. When he gets to America, he unsurprisingly, does not change his ways. To his credit, Cohen again crafts a character we should hate, but it's impossible to. His recklessness and insensitivity actually make him more likeable. Man, if only I could pull that off...

I caught this one on Friday afternoon, so here are the Yays and Boos, the make-the-nuke-pointy style.

Was the Seacrest incident more memorable than the flick?
  • The Aladeen news? You're HIV Aladeen.
  • Though it was in the preview, the helicopter scene was inspired lunacy.
  • The best reason ever to have someone executed? That annoying little dance that occurs when two people try to politely walk around each other yet keep choosing to go the same way.
  • The torture scene with John C. Reilly! Nice.
  • Osama Bin Laden is real shitty houseguest. 
  • The patsy version of Aladeen was pretty funny. 
  • The weird soundtrack was actually quite amusing. Everybody Hurts never sounded, Aladeen.
  • This is cheap, but the Anchorman teaser was solid.
He refers to her as a lesbian Hobbit.
  • Turns out I don't enjoy scenes that take place inside someone. Especially pregnant someones. Goodness.
  •  It's short, 83-minutes short, but it still feels a bit long.
  • Anna Farris. Am I tired of you? I think I am. Though feel free to do the Yoda voice anytime...
  • Ed Norton's cameo? I am Jack's crushing disappointment.
  • Honestly, this one seemed like it was played too safe at times. There's some bite to it, but it's rather innocent at times. Innocent by Cohen's standards anyway...
As is rather commonplace for summertime flicks, I had a free pass, so there was no money on the line for me. And like my sister has pointed out, I usually don't hate anything anyway. Overall, I think  it was funny enough to warrant seeing, but I'd have your back if you just went and saw The Avengers again.

It certainly wouldn't offend me.


  1. Good review M. Definitely not Baron Cohen's funniest piece of work but still a lot better than I expected, since he is so damn great at staying in character the whole time. Still, I'm going to miss his mockumentary stuff.

    1. Dan, it's a shame that he's extremely unlikely to ever be able to get away with the mockumentary flicks again. Borat is untouchable, but I'd argue that Bruno had a few borderline legendary moments.

  2. Great review! I like Cohen's movies they are always funny and though offensive and crass at least they never have jokes that completely misfired, like most of the recent comedies.

    1. He is a very funny guy. Very. I think that you have to admire his balls (figuratively, anyway). So many great comedic actors routinely play it safe, but Cohen just goes for it.

      Balls out, if you will.