Monday, September 24, 2012

Summer Movie Roundup 2

Another movie I saw this past summer was The Dictator, starring Sascha Baron Cohen.  I think I get Cohen's particular brand of comedy, and he certainly makes me laugh pretty regularly, but like his previous films I found this one ultimately shallow and unsatisfying.  His idea to spoof the likes of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi is valid, but not as edgy as he seems to think (heck, the Three Stooges took on Hitler even before the US declared war on Germany in World War II). One can marvel at Cohen's deep immersion into character, and the way it carries over into real life, but that doesn't make the film itself anything more than a series of gags, some of which hit and some of which don't.  Given the subject matter, some real biting satire would demonstrate actual thought about his subject. But he seems satisfied to zero in on those superficial characteristics that can be played broadly for easy mocking-- the sort of  comedic riffing that can be applied to any nitwit fad that captures the public attention, like reality shows or pop stars.  To put it another way: if the goal is to take on the truly evil elements of the world (something comedy is well-positioned to do), how about taking aim with ammunition more potent than a fake beard and phony accent.

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