Top critical review
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works only part of the time
on February 29, 2004
This film does contain flashes of Chaplin's confirmed comic genius, but often gets bogged down in overt political moralizing. OF COURSE the Nazis were deeply evil and OF COURSE they did some horrible horrible things to Jews (among others) but hey, we know that already.
The way that Chaplin abruptly switches from light-hearted comedy and parody into moral finger-pointing and back again, destroys the flow and consistency of the film. It feels long, bloated and self-indulgent at turns...I kept thinking, "this guy Chaplin needs a good strong producer who'll trim out all the fat 'cause this movie's just bulging!" There is no momentum and no clear direction...wish someone could've put this one on the Atkins diet!
What an unfortunate waste of Chaplin's considerable comic gifts. Granted, at the time this film was made, Hitler's evilness was not well known in America, and Chaplin intended this movie to warn us about him. Unfortunately, as 21st century viewers, Chaplin's good intentions almost ruin his film.