Review: Comedy ‘Dear Dictator’ marks new low for Michael Caine
Teen comedy meets political satire in “Dear Dictator,” a turkey of the first order distinguished only by the fact that co-writer-directors Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse convinced the great Michael Caine to costar in this thudding mishmash.
Congratulations to the filmmakers for providing one of acting’s most enduring icons (he just turned 85) with a new career low, which is saying a lot for someone who appeared in both “The Swarm” and “Jaws: the Revenge.”
Suburban Georgia high school quasi-outcast Tatiana (“Lady Bird’s” Odeya Rush) somehow strikes up a pen-pal relationship with General Anton Vincent (Caine), the strongman dictator of a small, impoverished Caribbean nation. But when the despised Vincent’s corrupt government collapses, he’s forced to flee and ends up in America hiding out with Tatiana and her trashy, man-crazy, single mom, Darlene (Katie Holmes). Of course he does.
The rebellious, Shakespeare-quoting Vincent teaches Tatiana how to best the high school’s “mean girls” while also giving Darlene the confidence to break away from her foot-fetishist dentist-boss-boyfriend (Seth Green).
Meantime, Vincent, ridiculously keeping cover behind a godawful disguise, fixes household appliances, cooks mole and waits for his “comrades” to rescue him. (No spoiler: They don’t.)
The cast, including Jason Biggs as a dorky social studies teacher, does what it can with the toothless, painfully unfunny, thoroughly unconvincing material. How some movies get made is truly a mystery.
Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood; also on VOD
Only good movies
Get the Indie Focus newsletter, Mark Olsen's weekly guide to the world of cinema.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.