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Larry Charles
Sacha Baron Cohen, Megan Fox, Ben Kingsley, Anna Faris, Chris Parnell, Bobby Lee, Fred Armisen, J.B. Smoove, Sayed Badreya
Writing Credits:
Sacha Baron Cohen, Alec Berg, David Mandel, Jeff Schaffer

The creators and star of Borat bring you the jaw-dropping comedy about what happens when the world's worst dictator comes to America. Stuck in New York and stripped of his power, Aladeen (Sacha Baron Cohen) is finally forced to live his ultimate nightmare ... the American dream. Get ready to laugh 'til it hurts with the uncensored cut, featuring never-before-seen footage, that's "outrageous and shamefully funny!"

Box Office:
$65 million.
Opening Weekend
$17.435 million on 3008 screens.
Domestic Gross
$59.617 million.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (Theatrical Cut Only)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (Theatrical Cut Only)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (Theatrical Cut Only)
English Audio Description (Theatrical Cut Only)
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 83 min. (Theatrical Edition) / 98 min. (Unrated Cut)
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 8/21/2012

• 15 Deleted and Extended Scenes
• Music Video
• Larry King Interview
• DVD Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The Dictator [Blu-Ray] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 21, 2012)

Back in 2006, Borat became a pretty big hit at the box office and it looked like Sacha Baron Cohen would become the Next Big (Comedy) Thing. However, 2009’s Brüno fared considerably less well, so any momentum Cohen earned from Borat dissipated.

Both Borat and Brüno provided often-improvised experiences that derived much of their humor from “fly on the wall” interactions between Cohen’s characters and unknowing subjects. For Cohen’s next movie, he left that approach behind and went for a more traditional scripted film.

It didn’t work – at least not commercially. Both Brüno and 2012’s The Dictator earned identical $59 million grosses in the US; combined, the two flicks earned less than Borat’s $128 million.

I wasn’t wild about either of those earlier movies, but I think Cohen has talent, so I figured I’d give Dictator a look. We meet Admiral General Haffaz Aladeen (Cohen), the tyrannical leader of the (fictional) North African country Wadiya. He apparently harbors nuclear aspirations and becomes considered the most dangerous man in the world.

International leaders plan to stage airstrikes on Wadiya unless Aladeen agrees to come to New York and address the UN. However, Aladeen’s uncle/right-hand man Tamir (Ben Kingsley) plots to have him removed and killed. An American operative (John C. Reilly) attempts to torture him, but Aladeen manages to escape – though not before he loses his beard.

This leaves him unrecognizable, so Aladeen can’t get into the UN. Tamir uses a double for Aladeen to address the gathered leaders, and the patsy informs the world that he’ll soon make Wadiya a democracy – all so Tamir can sell off its natural resources for his own gain. Aladeen attempts to reclaim his position with the help of his former chief scientist Nadal (Jason Mantzoukas) – and he also slowly falls for liberal Zoey (Anna Faris).

I think Cohen made the right move when he abandoned the faux real life nonsense of Borat and Brüno. That’s partly because I thought the technique got old quickly in those films, and it’s also because I thought he wrung as much theoretical comedy as he could from that format. The method became a dead end where the cart tended to drive the horse.

Though I was happy that Dictator would be a more traditional film, I admit I didn’t have great hopes for it. The trailers made it look like a bunch of cheap ethnic gags and little else.

To be sure, Dictator does come with a lot of humor based on stereotypes, but somehow it manages to usually avoid the pitfalls of that kind of material. I think that’s because it gets most of its humor from the lead character and his absurdity. When the film indulges in “stereotype comedy”, it usually does so through the prism of Aladeen’s ignorance. This allows the movie to mock the stereotypes and not exploit them – well, at least not as much.

This makes Dictator much more of a character piece than it otherwise might have been, and Cohen delivers a pretty terrific lead performance. He shows excellent timing and rhythm throughout the film, and he manages to bring out the best in his costars. In particular, he shows a nice chemistry with Mantzoukas; I’d love to see those two work together again, as they could make a fine comedy team.

Cohen even manages to tone down the gross-out humor that marred Borat and Brüno. Yeah, we still get a few moderately disgusting bits, but they’re not nearly as nasty as equivalent elements from the prior films, and they seem less pointed. In the earlier flicks, I got the impression Cohen used gross-out elements as a means unto themselves; he expected laughs solely due to the nastiness and not any related humor. Here, the explicit components accentuate other jokes and don’t exist on their own little island; that makes them more effective. The film never becomes quite as offensive as its predecessors, largely because I don’t get the sense Cohen so actively seeks to shock; he toys with political correctness but keeps things playful.

All of this adds up to a surprisingly effective comedy. I always thought Cohen had talent and could lead a good movie some day, but it took him a while. While I can’t claim The Dictator stands as a classic, it’s still a pretty funny and entertaining affair.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus C+

The Dictator appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The image always looked solid.

Sharpness seemed strong. Virtually no softness crept into the image, so the movie always appeared nicely detailed and distinctive. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws were a non-factor, as this was a clean presentation.

Orange and teal have become dominant colors in today’s Hollywood, and they influenced Dictator. Nonetheless, the tones consistently seemed clear and concise within those parameters, and some more natural colors emerged along the way as well. Blacks were deep and firm, while low-light shots came across as appropriately dense but not overly dark. Overall, the picture appeared positive.

I also felt pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Dictator. Though much of the film concentrated on character/comedic moments, a few street sequences and some action bits added some pep. These filled out the speakers well, and the quieter moments delivered good involvement as well.

Audio quality also was solid. Speech seemed crisp and distinctive, as I noticed no flaws like edginess. Music seemed warm and full, while effects showed good clarity and accuracy. The track accentuated the movie in a satisfying manner.

The Blu-ray comes with both the film’s theatrical edition (1:23:17) and its unrated cut (1:38:47). What do we find in those extra 15 and a half minutes? We see the reason the Aladeen wanted Nadal executed and get a few extended other conversations between those two. We also find more with Aladeen and Clayton, additions to the biography that opens the film, a Larry King interview, Aladeen’s plans for his UN speech, a fight between Aladeen and a former bodyguard, and the sex scene between Aladeen and Zoey.

I think the unrated cut offers more laughs and works better. It also fleshes out relationships better; we have a greater understanding of Aladeen/Nadal than we do in the theatrical version. I admit the longer cut threatens to drag at times, but it’s still more satisfying.

15 Deleted and Extended Scenes fill a total of 33 minutes, 43 seconds. If you watched the unrated cut, many of these will look familiar, as they constitute close to half of this collection. The other segments are consistently fun but not particularly consequential; expect some additions and alternate takes.

Next comes a Music Video for “Your Money Is On the Dresser”. This comes from “Aladeen” – and features Cohen’s wife Isla Fisher as the Admiral General’s sexy (paid-for) conquest. It’s short and mildly amusing.

The Blu-ray finishes with a Larry King Interview. This lasts a mere two minutes, 49 seconds as we see a chat between the former TV host and Aladeen. We find some of these bits in the unrated cut, but this gives us a longer version.

A second disc offers a DVD Copy of Dictator. This doesn’t offer a standard retail version of the film, as it omits all the regular DVD’s extras – and also lacks the unrated cut.

After Borat and Brüno, I figured The Dictator would complete Sacha Baron Cohen’s hat trick of comedic crudeness. However, the film works pretty well as it substitutes a satisfying cartoonishness for the gross-out gags of its predecessors. The Blu-ray delivers strong picture, good audio and a set of supplements highlighted by copious amounts of added footage. Chalk up Dictator as a pleasant cinematic surprise.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 5
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