Film: Cohen disappoints in Dictator

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May 25th, 2012

Omaha, NE – He burst onto the scene with satire that pushed the envelope, so what’s next for Sacha Baron-Cohen? From the Movieha podcast, Ryan Syrek and Matt Lockwood take a look at The Dictator.

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Ryan: Love him or hate him, Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat became a cultural icon.

Matt: Hi-five!

Sacha Baron Cohen stars in The Dictator.

Ryan: Friends still don’t let friends do Borat impressions. Plus there was that Congressional order they passed banning the use of that voice in public.

Matt: I believe it was the last bill to have bipartisan support.

Ryan: And speaking of politics, Cohen is returning with yet another accented caricature in The Dictator, a movie that is similar to the Charlie Chaplin film The Great Dictator, in that the titles have some of the same letters.

Matt: Deviating from his largely improvisational work, Cohen plays Admiral General Aladeen, an incompetent oppressor who rules the fictional Middle Eastern country of Wadiya. He is misogynistic, vile, and generally what one would expect in a comedic impression of a cruel leader. When his uncle, played by the slumming Sir Ben Kingsley, swaps Aladeen out with a doppleganger, the former ruler finds himself wandering the streets until he stumbles on a vegan small business owner played by whatever’s left of Anna Feris after the plastic surgery. A nonsensical love story is fused with a blend of Trading Places and Coming to America, resulting in virtually no original moments.

Ryan: When Cohen is at his devilish best, he is exposing hypocrisy and mocking bigoted and simple-minded behavior. And with the recent Arab Spring uprisings and subsequent focus on dictators from that region, I was expecting a skewering of attitudes and policies in a way that wasn’t just an excuse for jokes about Feris’s small chest and Cohen’s small manhood.

Matt: Somebody call the dentist, because Cohen needs dentures.

Ryan: I don’t follow.

Matt: Like a shark that bit an anchor or my maw-maw, The Dictator is toothless, going for the easy joke, the low-hanging, low-brow fruit at every opportunity.

Ryan: This is particularly troubling because nobody out there does quite what Cohen has been doing anymore. The world is devoid of its George Carlins, those willing to risk offensiveness to drive home a point through comedy.

Matt: This film is like watching someone do a bad impression of Cohen.

Ryan: And if anybody knows about bad impressions, it’s the guy who created Borat.

Editorial note: The Movieha podcast is produced in partnership with The Reader and is available at thereader.com.

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