FilmDrunk's Vince Mancini reviewed The Dictator for us this week, and he wasn't very impressed. Meanwhile, over at Grantland, Zach Baron has Sacha Baron Cohen: Requiem for a Comedian, a solid piece about how Baron Cohen somehow went from the spectacular Da Ali G Show to The Dictator, a movie no one can really bring themselves to care about.
[Borat] was angry comedy for an angry moment, and if it seemed mean-spirited in spots—all those poor etiquette coaches and Hummer salesmen and ministers who spoke in tongues—one look at the rodeo crowds who cheered his suggestion that George Bush "drink the blood of every single man, woman, and child of Iraq" was enough to at least suggest Baron Cohen had his reasons.
Brüno, which came three years later, in 2009, was also astonishingly mean-spirited, but the targets were smaller, pettier, less interesting—stage moms and homophobic hotel security guards and racist fashion designers. Baron Cohen’s attempt to tack away from politics and toward Hollywood and celebrity came well after not only Zoolander and the go-go paparazzi years of the early aughts but also right around the same time as Octomom, the premiere of Jersey Shore, and Mel Gibson’s third or fourth or 15th anti-Semitic meltdown—far more horrific and pointed examples of the weird way our country had become obsessed with fame and narcissism and on-camera humiliation. By this time we knew full well that we were as complicit in the culture Baron Cohen was satirizing as any of the idiots he put on-screen.
The whole thing's here.