There are times when you want to watch a film of great depth, something that you can discuss intellectually with others. Then there are the times when you want to just shut off your brain and retreat into that pre-teen child that resides in us all.
If your mood leans more towards the latter than Ali G Indahouse may suite you.
As I started to watch this film it took a few moments before I could get a handle on how to review it, how to classify the film. Then it can to me, take the genetic material from the British comedy series ‘Carry On’ series from the late sixties and mix generously with Cheech and Chong, toss in a little Tom Green for good measure and you have Ali G (Sacha Baron Cohen).
Ali G began as a character made popular on British television that eventually made it to the big screen. He the ultimate hip-hop wanna be, a young man of limited intelligence and abilities that feels that he is ‘da bomb’.
Completely infatuated with hip-hop and pop culture Ali dreams large, living as player that saves the day while in reality he lives at home and drives a little compact car. He hangs out with his equally loser posse and loves his girl friend Me Julie (Kellie Bright).
There is a strange innocence about Ali. Try as you might the character grows on you. In fact you might even find yourself laughing.
Ali donates time at the local community center where he ‘teaches’ children how to be gangsters, well as gangster as possible with Ali in charge.
The Parliament threatens to close the center and Ali protests with the lamest hunger strike. When it comes to the attention of a nefarious Member of Parliament, David (Charles Dance), he hatches a plan to have Ali run for MP completely destroying the lead the current Prime Minster (Michael Gambon) has. With the help of his assistant Kate (Rhona Mitra) they get Ali out campaigning.
Now this is what reminded me of the Carry On series, no matter how bad Ali is the people lap it up ad he gets elected. His programs include solving the immigration problem by only permitting beautiful girls in, legalization of pot and other dubious social reforms.
Once again the population is overjoyed with Ali and he becomes an instant media darling. David alters his plan slightly and decides to tie the PM even closer to Ali and wait for him to self-destruct, leaving the post open for himself.
A note has to be made of the brand of humor in Ali G: Indahouse, actually, consider this a parental warning; the laughs are completely a result of the most puerile comedy possible.
The comedy is almost all overt sexual in nature, except of course the jokes based on drug use. There are numerous innocent seeming batches of dialogue that are in context are among the most overt sexual meaning possible.
One case involves a diplomatic dinner party where Ali and Julie sneak into the PM’s bed room for sex, the crowd hears them and assumes it’s the PM and a diplomat.
Then there is the drug humor. When the world seems on the brink of world war Ali dumps a few pounds of pot into the tea water and all of a sudden peaces, and the munchies, break out.
There are many pop culture references that go by so quickly you need to be fast to catch them. Like the main character this film pretends to be hip but is really based on British comedies some forty years old.
Sacha Baron Cohen makes the Ali G character work. Physically he resembles Tom Green, tall, awkward and willing to try anything for a cheap laugh. The humor comes across here because of Cohen’s ability to commit so completely to Ali G. He is full of himself, even when he is falling on his face. His spastic antics are a modern incarnation of the time honored slapstick comedy.
Michael Gambon presents the perfect counter point to Cohen’s character. His villainous yet staid British continence provides comic moments in juxtaposition to the youthful Ali G.
Gambon plays his role as a would be Bond villain creating a battle of the ‘wanna be’.
Rhona Mitra has talent as an actor as evident in her role on television’s The Practice and Boston Public. Here, she is relegated to only the sexually provocative assistant. It’s a shame; she could do a lot better than she is given in Ali G: Indahouse.
Director Mark Mylod does a good job in emulating the style of the British comedies that are the forefathers of Ali G: Indahouse. His pacing is excellent, the jokes, both visual and verbal, shoot like a machine gun at the audience.
The framing is best viewed in the widescreen version. There are a lot of reaction shots and almost off camera action that a pan and scan release would miss.
Mylod seems to know that Ali G: Indahouse is not award wining faire; he embraces the juvenile aspects of Ali G: Indahouse and flies with it. Ali G: Indahouse is a sex, drugs and hip-hop flick and he embraces it.
What sets a studio apart from its peers is the attention it pays to the smaller, niche market films. Sure, everyone goes all out for their high profit, huge budget films but what about attention to the details in the lesser-known films?
It’s here that Universal rises above most of the other studios, the mastering in Ali G: Indahouse is just about perfect.
The anamorphic video is crystal clear, completely devoid of any artifacts.
The Dolby 5.1 audio booms out, especially with the hip-hop rich soundtrack. Still, the background music never overwhelms the spoken word. The extras are above average. The commentary track with Cohen is done in character and is just about as immature as Ali G: Indahouse.
Some of the deleted scenes just have to be viewed to be believed, talk about gross! The standard behind the scenes is done as a tour with Ali G and there is a tutorial of how to speak like him.
Order a couple of pizzas, some chicken nuggets and case of beer and invite some friends over for a entertaining afternoon. Just make sure the kids are out of the house for the day.
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