Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Dictator (2012)

The North African Republic of Wadiya could be the next target of a military invasion, and their refusal to remove nuclear weapons might start a disastrous war. Admiral General Hafez Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) is the stubborn dictator, who refuses to obey the demands from the United Nations Security Council. Eventually, Aladeen arrives in New York City, and he will give a speech at UN headquarters. Aladeen agrees to address the situation, but he has no intentions of changing his mind. But Aladeen’s sudden kidnapping disrupts his initial plans. Aladeen loses his trademark beard, and he must thwart a plot to destroy his image. Aladeen will have to live life as a normal American citizen, and he must earn the trust of an environmentalist/activist named Zoey (Anna Faris) to regain his identity and leadership of Wadiya, or Aladeen will just become another normal guy in the states.

Sacha Baron Cohen’s impressive character transformations are fun to watch. Cohen has the ability to immerse himself in any type of character, and I can always believe him as the person I see on-screen. In Borat, I didn’t see Sacha Baron Cohen, I saw a rude and insensitive reporter from Kazakstani. In BrĂ¼no, I didn’t see Cohen, I saw a flamboyant Austrian fashion reporter and a proud gay man. And when it comes to The Dictator, I saw a selfish and immature dictator, who whined like a petulant child, when he didn’t get his way. Baron Cohen takes all of his movie personas VERY seriously, and he rarely breaks character in the real world. Baron Cohen’s incident involving Ryan Seacrest during the red carpet show for the Oscars this year is a prime example of his dedication, and when the situation became serious, Cohen STAYED in character, acting as if he did nothing wrong. He’s like a wrestler from the old school, who refuses to break kayfabe outside of the ring; it’s really something to admire, when you stop and think about it.

The mockumentary style of filmmaking has become a trademark for Baron Cohen’s films, that feature him in a starring role. Well, The Dictator sticks to this particular style of filmmaking at first, but as time progresses, The Dictator begins to develop an actual storyline: Aladeen must uncover the mystery of his disappearance, and with the help of Zoey and his hand picked nuclear weapons specialist from Wadiya, Aladeen will fight to regain his identity. I enjoyed the transition from a documentary style film to an actual comedy with a plot, because it made everything feel different. I love Sacha Baron Cohen, but the “realistic” style of filmmaking featured in his movies can feel tiresome after a while, and the slight change feels refreshing.

The Dictator features a good amount of raunchy and vulgar humor, and you have to expect this from a Baron Cohen film. The Dictator is a hilarious comedy, that features consistent laughs, and the acting is pretty damn good. Baron Cohen delivered another enjoyable performance, and Anna Faris was very solid here. Faris was this cheery hippie, but she could also showcase the passionate activist side of the Zoey character. Ben Kingsley was a fine choice for the Tamir character, but the lack of John C. Reilly did bother me a little bit. You might feel the irony during Baron Cohen’s speech towards the very end, as he explains the differences between a dictatorship and a democracy, but The Dictator deserves a place amongst high quality comedies in 2012 regardless. Oh, and the cameos from Megan Fox and Edward Norton were just great, especially Norton’s surprise appearance.

Final Rating: 7/10

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