David Dodd 1:48 a.m., May 18
Your "Extremely Tenuously Connected to the Cars 2 Premiere" Post of the Day
So, Sacha Baron Cohen is all set to tempt the critical fates with The Dictator, a film which, thanks to its blunt title, cannot help but call to mind Chaplin's The Great Dictator:
Of course, mocking Saddam Hussein (via a film "inspired by" a book by the former Boss of Iraq himself) after Hussein is dead is not quite on the level of mocking Hitler in 1940, but I guess you take what you can get. And besides, Cohen already demonstrated his subversive comedic genius in...Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
Wait, what? Oh, yes. It's not that he said anything particularly funny. It's that, by playing a flamboyantly gay Formula 1 driver who becomes the darling of the NASCAR world after beating the pants of red-blooded Ricky Bobby, Cohen issued a scathing indictment of Traditional American Values, the sort of values that generally regard homosexuality as morally problematic. The message was charmingly clear: you may say that gay is not the way, but let one of them there homos start winning at your favorite game, and, suddenly, you'll wear his jacket with pride.
Talladega Nights pulled in nearly $150 million domestic, so I guess it was a message America was ready to hear. Oh, and of course, Talladega Nights was about auto racing. And so is Cars 2. Extremely tenuous connection made. Cheers!
[UPDATE: I am curious to see how The Dictator fares against The Devil's Double. Cohen's project "tells the story of a Hussein-like dictator who is secretly replaced by a lookalike goat herder and must rebuild his life in New York City." The Devil's Double "tells the story of Latif, an Iraqi Soldier with Kurdish heritage who is forced to become a body double for Saddam Hussein’s emotionally unbalanced, cocaine-addicted, and sexually deviant son Uday during the build up to the first Gulf War." Hoo!]