sacha baron cohen is truly funny, but i had no intention of going to see this one. i like these characters he does, especially ali g and borat, but i wasn’t fired up or interested to go see this.
turns out i did and it was funnier than i expected to be. it was also, in a couple of spots, senselessly crude and off putting. but the humor and good natured-ness of the film’s true tone offset it, if you buy into that part of it.
the dictator tells the story of a ruler who is like a cross between saddam hussein, kim-jong-il and khadafi. he’s a cruel goof who comes to the united states to speak before the united nations but gets abducted and replaced by a double.
he’s plucked out of a protest line by a postmodern hippie girl (anna faris) who takes him back to her organic grocery store to work.
there he hatches a plan to return to power and foil his usurpers with the former head of his nuclear program, whom he encounters working at an apple genius bar. but along the way, in an odd and perhaps unconvincing transformation, he falls in love and changes his ways.
his characters senseless redemption is aided by the fact that his executioner was always on the side of the rebels and so, whenever he was told to execute anyone, he just sent them to america. all very neat and clean. meh.
but there are some truly funny bits and gags in the movie that made it worthwhile and even interesting, up to a point.
if you liked borat, you’ll enjoy it enough.
curiously, at the beginning of the movie, there’s a scene where a body double of the dictator is killed in his home country. this immediately made me think of the classic charlie chaplin film the great dictator, one of my all time favorites. i wondered aloud: well, there will likely be some delightful identity swap coming for sure…. but will there be a humanist manifesto at the end, like in chaplin’s film? the final speech from this film i have posted here
surely there was. it was not quite humanist, but it nonetheless qualifies as social commentary. was it enough to make up for the crudity? no. but aside from the nastier bits of business, i laughed out loud several times.