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Category: The Dictator

'The Dictator' offers iron-fisted, ham-handed laughs, critics say

May 16, 2012 |  3:21 pm

"The Dictator"

In "The Dictator," Sacha Baron Cohen combines his knack for absurd characters with the long-standing comedic tradition of skewering despotism on the big screen (see also: Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator," the Marx Brothers' "Duck Soup," Woody Allen's "Bananas"). Critics mostly agree that "The Dictator," which stars Baron Cohen as the iron-fisted ruler of a fictional North African country, is funny and vulgar, but whether the combination truly works depends on whom you ask.

The Times' Betsy Sharkey says "The Dictator" is "by turns hysterical, heretical, guilty, innocent, silly, sophisticated, teasing and tedious." She adds that in the wake of the Arab Spring, "the satire should feel especially relevant, but there is so much silliness it's hard to take anything here that seriously." Baron Cohen's physical comedy creates some laughs, as does his chemistry with co-star Ben Kingsley, but Anna Faris, playing against type as a crunchy New York hippie, "is the film's standout." In the end, however, Sharkey says it may be time for Baron Cohen to try something new, as "it's hard not to think that this particular joke has gone on too long."

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Anna Faris knows 'Dictator' star only as 'Supreme Leader'

May 1, 2012 |  6:00 am

Anna Faris is named Comedy Star of the Year at CinemaCon
Sacha Baron Cohen made headlines when he surprised theater owners at CinemaCon in Las Vegas last week, storming into Caesar's Palace dressed as Gen. Adm. Aladeen and ragging on Hollywood executives and studios.

Anna Faris, the actor's costar in "The Dictator" — about the ruler of the fictional Republic of Wadiya — said she was just as taken aback as the crowd by his antics. Cohen didn't inform her about the publicity stunt in Las Vegas — nor the one he pulled with Ryan Seacrest at the Academy Awards earlier this year — because Faris says she barely talks to the actor out of character.

"In fact, when my husband [Chris Pratt] and I went to the Oscars, I saw [Sacha] ahead of me and I was like, 'Honey, we just have to avoid him.' I just knew that he was going to be up to something," the actress recalled last week at CinemaCon, where she was named comedy star of the year.

Working on set with Cohen, Faris said, was often bizarre because the actor would only be addressed as "Supreme Leader."

"You definitely know when he's on set. It's like, 'Oh, OK, he's here now,'" she said. "He's incredibly kind, but he was in character most of the time. ... It is really weird."

In the film, Faris plays the owner of a Brooklyn co-op who helps guide the general when he is stranded in New York City. It was an unglamorous role for the actress, who grew out her armpit hair and donned a short, brown wig for the part.

"It was a fun, liberating look — it has an androgynous feel," she explained. "She just doesn't really have any concern for wardrobe or fashion. I loved it. For an actress, it was like, 'Oh, OK, so I can have the doughnuts at craft service.' "


Sacha Baron Cohen targets Ryan Seacrest

CinemaCon: 'The Dictator' rips Jeffrey Katzenberg, Rich Ross

Sacha Baron Cohen follows Oscars stunt with new Paramount deal

— Amy Kaufman


Photo: Anna Faris is named comedy star of the year at CinemaCon 2012. Credit: Chris Pizzello / Associated Press.

CinemaCon: 'The Dictator' rips Jeffrey Katzenberg, Rich Ross

April 23, 2012 | 11:13 pm

CinemaCon isn't big on surprises. The four-day convention held by the National Assn. of Theatre Owners in Las Vegas is typically pretty predictable: Distribution executives shill their studios' upcoming movies, while exhibitors offer up polite enthusiasm in response to new trailers and footage.

That all changed Monday night, when Sacha Baron Cohen shocked the audience as he strolled into the Caesar's Palace Coliseum during Paramount Pictures' opening night presentation. Dressed as Gen. Adm. Aladeen, the fictional Middle Eastern ruler he plays in the upcoming film "The Dictator," he walked into the auditorium flanked by two soldiers carrying faux guns and two attractive women outfitted in army fatigues.

"How much for your daughter?" he jokingly asked one member of the crowd as he approached the stage.

Referring to CinemaCon as "Cinnabon," he asserted his love for the movies he'd seen in the so-called Republic of Wadiya, his empire: "When Harry Killed Sally," "14-Year-Old Virgin" and the "family comedy 'Planet of the Rapes.' "

But it was his jabs at Hollywood that elicited the biggest gasps from the room. Among his targets? DreamWorks Animation chief Jeffrey Katzenberg and recently departed Walt Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross.

For Katzenberg, who had just finished his presentation promoting "Madagascar 3" and "Rise of the Guardians," Cohen had this to say: "I thought I was the only dictator speaking tonight. So imagine my surprise when I found out that Jeffrey Katzenberg was speaking. He rules with an iron fist."

He then began threatening the exhibitors to put "The Dictator" in their theaters, or else he said he might detonate imaginary bombs underneath their seats.

"Is that chewing gum underneath your seat? Certainly they are not plastic explosives," he teased. "Trust me, there are bigger bombs than 'John Carter.' Just shoot the executive behind that. Oh -- wait, you did," he said, referring to Ross' recent departure from Disney.

But perhaps the harshest zinger was aimed at Steven Spielberg's DreamWorks. To urge CinemaCon attendees to see a screening of "The Dictator" later Monday evening, Cohen promised free Rolexes, blood diamonds, and young girls -- "or boys, if you are from DreamWorks."

And Ryan Seacrest thought he had it bad.


Sacha Baron Cohen targets Ryan Seacrest

CinemaCon trade show attracts movie studios

Sacha Baron Cohen follows Oscars stunt with new Paramount deal

--Amy Kaufman in Las Vegas


Photo: Sacha Baron Cohen attends the 2012 Oscars dressed as "The Dictator." Credit: Matt Sayles / Associated Press


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