Dear DictatorWhat happens when a disaffected teen with a penchant for platform boots becomes pen pals with a murderous dictator? Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse attempt to answer this preposterous question with their lightly subversive teen comedy Dear Dictator. High school outsider Tatiana (Odeya Rush as a convincing wannabe rebel) pouts her way through the halls, trading barbs with the resident queen bees called the "Slushies" (a portmanteau of sluts and lushes). When a class assignment compels her to write a letter to a "hero," she chooses General Anton Vincent (Michael Caine), the dictator of a tumultuous island country, because she "likes his style." To her surprise, Anton writes back, and a sort of relationship develops — one that escalates quickly when a coup forces him to flee his homeland.
Caine dives into his Castro-esque role with aplomb as he and Rush attempt to salvage Dear Dictator from its increasingly random plot, which includes Anton seeking refuge at Tatiana's house and becoming a de facto handyman who wins over Tatiana's mom (Katie Holmes), a ditzy dental hygienist with a boss (Seth Green) who likes sucking toes. The naive teen and sly octogenarian later team up to start a revolution at the high school, a literal "coup d'eTatiana," that has life-changing consequences. Although the filmmakers name-check and appear to draw inspiration from Mean Girls, they've missed the mark on truly biting satire, leaving Dear Dictator toothless and silly.