THE DICTATOR (2012)

Directed by: Larry Charles
Written By: Sacha Baron Cohen, Alec Berg, David Mandel & Jeff Schaffer
Cinematography By: Lawrence Sher
Editor: Greg Hayden & Eric Kissack

Cast: Sacha Baron Cohen, Anna Faris, Ben Kingsley, Bobby Lee, Aasif Mandavi, Jason Mantzoukas, Joey Slotnick, Kevin Corrigan, Chris Elliott, Kathryn Hahn, Megan Fox, Ian Roberts, Jon Glaser, Chris Parnell, Chris Gethard, Fred Armisen, J.B. Smoove 


The Republic of Wadiya is ruled by an eccentric and oppressive leader named Hafez Aladeen. Aladeen is summoned to New York to a UN assembly to address concerns about his country’s nuclear weapons program, but the trip goes awry. 


It seems most of the time the only real comedy in this film is more the shocking aspects of the material. As the regular, more comic nature gags seem like they go well on paper, but physically fall flat.

The film plays like a Saturday Night Live skit character who gets their own film But struggles to fill out the premise. So that the film feels like a collection of skits tied together with a rather thin plotline. Soon the envelope is pushed so far all the outlandish details become common. You start to wonder if anything will be considered sacred. 

Unfortunately when it comes to Sasha Baron Cohen who is a gifted comedic performer. His best ability that has so far been shown is his ability to stay in character while improvising around and off of real people not in on the joke, With hilarious awkward, and shocking moments. As others around him seem to drop their guard and open up themselves mostly to his questions and suggestions that have worked for him so far. While he has defined characters he also became more recognizable. So with small roles in other films the natural next plateau was to try to create feature films with characters though more scripted. Though try to feature the same type off the cuff comedy. With a certain looseness in the filmmaking leaving room for happy accidents. In this film he seems to be the only one allowed to do anything really funny, others try but are either cameos that go nowhere or just weak. So this film feels almost like a vanity project. 

He is funny and a good performer, but he is also better than this material. Which only seems to only be shocking to be shocking. No real reason it can’t be funny without going to such extremes. It’s like stand-up who’s act is full of offensive and shocking scenarios. Just no real jokes or sense of humor. Though everything said is supposed to be in some type of humor. Which is a shame especially when you have a cast that is full of funny actors. 

It feels like a mash-up of Different Charlie Chaplin scenarios and scenes from his films only updated badly. –It seems that Sasha Baron Cohen is the closest that we have to a modern Peter Sellers as he totally allows himself to truly be lost in character and there seems to not be any breaking and not know where one ends and where another begins. Also, his films tend to revolve not only around characters that he plays but almost exclusively around him and his character. There are other comedians and characters but most of the humor revolves around only his and others’ reactions to him. 

His previous films that play more off of hidden cameras and regular people reacting to his antics are a bit more powerful as they reflect more of a social satire with a reality. This film is more sketch than anything else scripted satire that is made to look off-kilter but is obviously more formulaic. It’s a shame as the film shows peaks of comedic brilliance and some interesting ideas that are quickly dropped for more traditional comedy in the form of just trying to make the jokes way too offensive and shock humor. 
Which seems to be on the rise in the form of comedy instead of humorous jokes and situations. Comedies seem to be more of a barometer of how much they can get away with that is off-color. There are of course exceptions, but Comedies seem to be going the way of horror with torture porn. The more shocking and graphic it seems the better. 

Like the film, it seems to be inspired by just a bit Charlie Chaplin’s THE GREAT DICTATOR it has a great speech at the end that tries to inform and send a message. It’s more didactic and not inspiring like its influence. 

The film has a love story that doesn’t work nor is it really needed, but since it seems that most films today have one whether they are needed are not have one involved in the film. Why not this one? 

Grade: D

EUROTRIP (2004)

Written & Directed By: Jeff Schaffer, Alec Berg & David Mandel
Cinematography By: David Eggby
Editor: Roger Bondelli

Cast: Scott Mechlowicz, Jacob Pitts, Michelle Trachtenberg, Travis Wester, Fred Armisen, Kristen Kruek, Lucy Lawless, Joanna Lumley, Vinnie Jones, Diedrich Bader, Matt Damon, Jessica Boehrs, Rade Serbedzija, Steve Hytner, Pat Kilbane, Jana Pallaske 

When Scotty’s German online pen pal suggests they meet, he initially freaks out. But then he discovers that she’s gorgeous, and heads out with three friends after graduation to meet her. As they travel across Europe, the four friends have comical misadventures.


This film seems to want to be a satire of the thought of traveling to Europe and the myths in American Teenagers’ minds about urban legends they have heard of the place. Not to mention adults, but here more inspired by the carnal and drugs. While also trying to be an AMERICAN PIE inspired 1980’s teen movie.

This is definitely a movie of its time as it seems kind of lost though wants to put a spin on that common theme of a trip to a foreign land before you buckle down for the future. A familiar coming of age cliche for movies and sometimes in life. This movie isn’t aimed to witness profound discoveries while expanding the character’s minds, but more in comedic stereotypes and culture-clash comedy.

Where half the time the film seems more aimed at sex and drug humor with not as much nudity as one would think but does have enough nudity as a requirement.

The film has inspired moments that seem to be episodic depending on the country or region they are Into and combined. With some guest starring recognizable actors.

One of whom Fred Armisen totally steals his scenes in an all too brief Role. That works best in the small dose offered.

It seeks to try and break or push taboos that sometimes work but also come off as trying to be too eager in their aim. The film isn’t sincere enough to feel original but ends up feeling like it achieves what it set out for. As it is a teen comedy that is more juvenile but gives enough to its audience to be satisfying.

In a way, the film feels like ideas that were for an AMERICAN PIE sequel if Jim had pursued the exchange student Nadia back to Russia and the hijinks that would have ensued only without the same characters.

The film has the 90’s and 2000 equivalent of a teen sex comedy where like sometimes in reality sex and nudity is talked about more than experienced or shown.

The film’s popularity is helped by the catchy tune and a kind of unofficial anthem SCOTTY DOESN’T KNOW. which plays a pivotal role early in the film and throughout.

While the teen cast is mixed In With the hijinks. The other characters the adult ones do most of the comedic heavy lifting. As the teen cast does get involved but they more react to the cause of any comedy. As naive Americans who are at times ugly Americans inadvertently.

Michelle Trachtenberg at the time is the only real recognizable member of the main ensemble cast. This seems to be a film or Role that was more designed to break her out more into sexy adult roles. As at times, she is meant to be funny and eye candy at the same time.

This is a film that didn’t make much of a mark when it came out but over the years has gained an audience of appreciation. Maybe because of it trying to be a riff of inspiration that wasn’t appreciated in its own time so the next generation raises it to a certain level and can take ownership of it. Especially when it has so many noteworthy actors who cameo out of nowhere and seem to be relieved to be given freedom and room To break out of their more Cooke cutter and wholesome roles they are used to playing on television and movie teen roles that were more on the PG-13 roles.

The film plays more episodic and reminds one of the film National Lampoon’s European Vacation with the wild vast comedic stereotypes the film plays into that could also help sell to foreign audiences showing they have a sense of humor about themselves. As the film is over the top and as the characters are so young they try not to be but end up becoming the ugly Americans. By the end, though the film seems to have sex on its mind more than anything else.

 Grade: C

JAY AND SILENT BOB REBOOT (2020)

Written, Edited  & Directed By: Kevin Smith
Cinematography: Yaron Levy 

Cast: Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith, Fred Armisen, Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, Chris Jericho, Shannon Elizabeth, Rosario Dawson, Harley Quinn Smith, Joey Lauren Adams, Diedrich Bader, Craig Robinson, Justin Long, Donell Rawlings, Aparna Brielle, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Johnny Bananas, Joe Manganiallo, Karruche Tran, Melissa Benoit, Jason Biggs, Adam Brody, Val Kilmer, Kate Micucci, James Van Der Beek, Redman, Joe Reitman, Alice Wan, Brian O’Halloran, Tommy Chong, Keith Coogan, Molly Shannon, Dan Folger, Ralph Garman, Chris Hemsworth, Frankie Shaw, Treshelle Edmond 

Jay and Silent Bob inadvertently sign away their names and rights to the new Bluntman and Chronic movie. Now they head to Hollywood to stop the film from being made. Along the way Jay discovers that he is a father.


The film is a road-trip comedy. Where the story is there to explain and get the audience to the journey. Yet the reasons are more ridiculous.

It’s also a movie where half the fun of it is sporting the cameos and so-called guest stars

This is a film that is hard for me to review. Because as much of a fan as I am of Kevin Smith and his movies. At this point, he truly doesn’t care about impressing anyone outside of his fan base really or necessarily making more conventional films. At this point, he has a large following film-wise of usually the same age group most of his films are aimed at. Through podcasts, comic books as well as directing television shows. So that when he makes films it is for a niche audience of loyal fans and followers. So that it shows he is thankful and appreciated their loyalty. This is why for me it usually feels like a Joy to watch any new film he has ou

As usual, one has interest though more and more it seems like a chore. 

As with many different aging comedians like Adam Sandler and to a degree Eddie Murphy. He is willing to try new things once in a while but also seems like he is going after a young audience or the same audience he has always had only the next generation of them. By making his movies more for teens and kids. As they get juvenile and raunchy humor with big words but also as they get older they will find themselves loyal and beholden to him

As they grew up with his films. Planned or not. It also helps that he comes off always like a decent regular guy. Who just happened to get his dream job.

He also has always seemed to have a self-deprecating sense of humor and as he gets older he sharpens and aims for himself more and more. 

So that if you are a fan of his films and humor. You should enjoy this film. If not it might be a little harder for you to enjoy. As the fun of this movie is having previous knowledge of the characters and situations. Catching up with a lot of them over the years.

The film feels like a gift to his audience. As it brings back his most popular characters again for their own movie. A kind of sequel to JAY & SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK. Only as it seems to be directed to serve a younger teen audience. As well as hand it off to the next generation of characters and but like his previous film this feels like a present to pass on to his daughter. Who stars in this film And is a fine presence and likable. As she has appeared in many of his films previously and starred in YOGA HOSERS. Which thankfully this film is much better then. 

The film and its humor is still profane. Yet it still satirizes the characters as well as some of the actors participating in personal triumphs and give a reunion of sorts for various view askew character to appear throughout. As it shows just an exuberance of joy and goodwill which is how he also seems to snag some big names in self-deprecating cameos. 

The film ends up being crude yet fun it stays entertaining even if it feels a bit long and excessive. Also, he seems sometimes to be too hard on himself when being self-deprecating. 

The film stays purely comedic throughout in a more silly slapstick way and offers the young female characters not only a point of view but a chance to shine. Where the film isn’t all about sex nor focused on them more as sexual objects. He actually makes the characters and more part of the action. Which shows some growth for him. Not that he was a huge misogynist before or anything but wrote what he knew and characters more like himself. 

Your knowledge of his previous films will affect your enjoyment of this one. If you are a fan this will be a slam dunk, but if you are a critic of his previous work this will not be the one to convince you otherwise. 

Grade: C

THE LITTLE HOURS (2017)

the-little-hours-dave-franco

Written & Directed By: Jeff Baena
Cinematography By: Quyen Tran
Editor: Ryan Brown 


Cast: Dave Franco, Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Kate Micucci, Nick Offerman, Jemima Kirke, Molly Shannon, John C. Reilly, Paul Reiser, Fred Armisen, Paul Weitz, Lauren Weedman 


On the run from the battle-seasoned Lord Bruno for sleeping with his wife, the handsome and willing servant, Massetto, flees to the safety of the woods during the warm and peaceful summer of 1347. There, after a chance encounter with the always boozy but merciful Father Tommasso, the young charmer will find refuge into his convent’s sanctuary, on one condition: to pretend he is a deaf-mute. However, Massetto’s tempting presence will unavoidably upset the already frail balance of things within the sexually-repressed female realm, as nun after nun desperately seeks an escape from their tedious way of life and an extra reason to molest the charming handyman. In the end, will those cloistered Sisters finally find out what they had been missing out on all these years?

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BATTLE OF THE SEXES (2017)

battleofthesexes

Directed By: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
Written By: Simon Beaufoy
Cinematography By: Linus Sandgren
Editor: Pamela Martin 


Cast: Steve Carrell, Emma Stone, Bill Pullman, Andrea Riseborough, Natalie Morales, Sarah Silverman, Elisabeth Shue, Martha MacIssac, Alan Cumming, Eric Christian Olsen, Fred Armisen, Mickey Sumner, Wallace Langham, Matt Molloy, Bridey Elliott, Chris Parnell, Mike Vogel, Tom Kenny, Jamey Sheridan 


In the wake of the sexual revolution and the rise of the women’s movement, the 1973 tennis match between women’s world champion and ex-men’s-champ and serial hustler Bobby Riggs was billed as the BATTLE OF THE SEXES and became one of the most watched televised sports events of all time, reaching 90 million viewers around the world. As the rivalry between King and Riggs kicked into high gear, off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles. The fiercely private King was not only championing for equality, but also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, as her friendship with Marilyn Barnett developed. And Riggs, one of the first self-made media-age celebrities, wrestled with his gambling demons, at the expense of his family and wife Priscilla. Together, Billie and Bobby served up a cultural spectacle that resonated far beyond the tennis court, sparking discussions in bedrooms and boardrooms that continue to reverberate today.

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