The Dictator Blu-ray Review
Sacha Baron Cohen has made a career out of offending people. Whether you love him or hate him, chances are you know of the man who created DA ALI G SHOW (2003-2004) on HBO, or BORAT (2006) and BRUNO (82009) – both of whom were originated on ALI G. As a comedian and visionary thinker, Baron Cohen has changed the landscape of acceptable comedy, but he has certainly not done so without challenging and offending just about everyone. So how will his newest movie THE DICTATOR fare?
THE DICTATOR is the story of General Admiral Shabazz Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen). Since taking over as supreme leader of northern Africa country Wadiya at the age of 7, Aladeen has “lovingly oppressed” his countrymen. Threatening that his country is on the verge of nuclear weapons finally sets off the United Nations. At the threat of military action, Aladeen decides to go before the UN, and he heads off to America with his uncle Tamir (Ben Kingsley. Yep, that one. From GANDHI and HUGO and SHUTTER ISLAND. What happened to you Ben!?!)
Once he arrives in New York, though, things don’t go right for Aladeen. First he is kidnapped and nearly tortured (by John C. Reilly in a decent, if over-the-top, cameo). Aladeen escapes with his life, but loses his beard in the process. Now that he is virtually unrecognizable, how will he get back into his compound and make sure the imposter now posing as the General Admiral is not allowed to sully his country’s name and… scoff… institute a democracy?!
Along the way Aladeen meets up with one of his closest friends and subjects Nadal (the incredibly funny, deadpan Jason Mantzoukas from THE LEAGUE), a nuclear scientist he ordered executed a year earlier. Nadal has been hiding out in Brooklyn (“Little Wadiya”) and working as an Apple Store Genius. The brightest moments in the film are between Cohen’s Aladeen and Mantzoukas’s Nadal. They play off of each other brilliantly and have a natural chemistry that makes Aladeen all the more unlikable.
Also featured in this film is Anna Faris from the SCARY MOVIE franchise. She plays a hippie feminist who owns a free trade store that employs entirely political dissidents. There is humor to be had here but they never go further than the obvious jokes. Faris is actually pretty funny but doesn’t shine in this movie at all. Most of her scenes are one note and she’s just out-classed by Cohen.
THE DICTATOR is full of cameos and has more brilliant jokes than any comedy I’ve seen in years. Sadly, they are surrounded at every corner by hordes and hordes of simply awful jokes, which give the entire affair an incredibly uneven feel (like most of Cohen’s films). DA ALI G SHOW worked because there was limited time within which to tell the joke. It kept Cohen on topic and didn’t allow the meandering jokes that distract the viewer and really hurt this film.
Cohen has been great in other movies, just not those he has helped write. I have no doubt he is a brilliant comedic mind, but sometimes I don’t get the joke. Bottom line – if you love Sacha Baron Cohen or hate him, this movie has plenty of moments to prove you right. It just won’t change your mind.
Video: (1080p, 2.40:1 Widescreen) The video for THE DICTATOR is clear and very nicely presented on this Blu-ray.
Audio: (English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio) THE DICTATOR Blu-ray features nice sound delivery without anything dazzling.
Extended Unrated Edition (01:38:47) This extended edition of THE DICTATOR is included on the Blu-ray but primarily features scenes included in the “Deleted and Extended Scenes” portion of the special features. Just like the theatrical release, this edition is uneven and leaves the audience wanting.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (33:43) Fifteen scenes that were cut or shortened in the theatrical release of THE DICTATOR are included here. There are some incredibly funny moments here, just like the film, but they are too few and far between.
Music Video – Best Love Song “Your Money is on the Dresser” (01:35) A music video that was cut from THE DICTATOR theatrical cut. Featuring Isla Fisher (who might have been nice in this film) this music video (really a deleted scene) is very short.
Larry King Interview (02:49) Just like THE DICTATOR, a few funny moments in an otherwise boring performance. Larry King does fine playing himself though HD isn’t very friendly to him.
This Blu-ray also comes with a DVD and Ultra-Violet digital copy.