Monday, 4 June 2012

Film Review: The Dictator

Ok, so this was the first Sacha Baren Cohen film I have ever seen. I haven't seen Borat, or Brüno, or anything else for that matter. I attribute this neglect of his work to a sort of dislike to Da Ali G show, which I watched on UK TV when it first started. I didn't really find it that funny to be honest.

So, buoyed along by a couple of Austrian friends who wanted to see it, and my curiosity that this might actually be worth watching (I imagined it as something along the lines of Team America), we went to see it last week.

The film stars Baren Cohen as the titular character, from the fictional North African country of Wadiya. Called to address the UN on matters of nuclear weapons, he is betrayed by his advisor (played by Ben Kingsley) and has to fight to retain his grip on his country. Anna Faris (of Scary Movie fame), stars as the love interest. It is a fairly predictable storyline, complete with plenty of slapstick and dripping in satire.

My verdict? I really enjoyed it. Well, most of it. There were a lot of very funny jokes, even if some of them were a bit old and repetitious. But there was also a whole lot of sharp observation and the comedy was paced well enough to keep the film moving at a decent pace.

The only downsides I have are that the plot was a little predictable (but I'm not sure it was ever supposed to be anything else really) and there were a couple of 'gags' which I thought were, not too far, but not really that funny either; most of those were about women and I know that it fits into the plot and subtext but I just can't help but think that they were the obvious choices of gags about women. I also had to remember that it is a film, aimed at a mass market, and is therefore not going to spend half an hour discussing the finer points of state aid and democratic principles - edited for brevity was the name of the game. Unless you're a political nerd like me, it shouldn't detract from the funny!

Still, it was worth watching, and I think I will now go and check out Brüno at least.

Modal Corpus rating: 3.5/5

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