"The Dictator"

Actor/writer Sacha Baron Cohen's style of comedy is not so much an acquired taste as it is one of numbed taste. Here the oddball British comedian stars as an over-the-top Middle Eastern despot (think Gadhafi) who finds himself semi-deposed and on the lam in New York City plotting his triumphant return.

The jokes are ridiculously offensive, with Jews and Arabs coming in for particular abuse, and it will take a constitution of steel to stomach them all. Just the scene in which our anti-hero is playing a Wii-style video game with the goal of shooting Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics is enough to make most people turn away in disgust.

While his inability to find boundaries may hold him back from a Robin Williams-like career trajectory, Cohen (who is Jewish) is still a very funny man. My 12-year-old son and I found ourselves laughing repeatedly throughout the movie. Guess there is no accounting for our taste.

Far too base for teens under 14 years old as well as for many refined adults and seniors. (R: Language and sex). 1 hour and 23 minutes.

Ratings (out of 4 stars):

Overall: 2½ stars

Kids: N/A

Teens: 3 stars

Adults: 2½ stars

Seniors: 1 star

Should you watch it? Yes -- but only if you like rude and crude comedies.

"The Pirates! Band of Misfits"


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Made by the folks who create the Claymation style "Wallace and Gromit" movies, this sweet children's film revolves around a group of kindhearted, incompetent buccaneers questing to win the Pirate of the Year Award.

With a decidedly British sense of humor, this very silly movie lurches across the seven seas with Hugh Grant as the voice of the vain and equally dim captain. While the animation style is appealing and there are several amusing moments, the film never truly jells. My 8-year-old daughter enjoyed the film enough, but she usually proclaims the most recent thing she's seen as her new all-time favorite. Not so in this case.

Despite the rating, older kids might find the material a bit juvenile, making this movie best for kids between 5 and 8 years old. (PG: Mild language and rude humor). 1 hour and 28 minutes.

Ratings (out of 4 stars):

Overall: 2½ stars

Kids: 3 stars

Teens: 1½ stars

Adults: 2½ stars

Seniors: 2½ stars

Should you watch it? Yes -- a fun choice for younger children.

J.B. Alderman lives in Piedmont and can be reached at jason@alderman.net.