Monday, 7 April 2014

Ali G Indahouse (UK, 2002)

Well alongside his fame and fortune Sacha Baron Cohen has also managed to achieve such a high level of notoriety with his urban character, that the actual town of Staines changed its name to Staines-upon-Thames to get away from the negativity. That's pretty impressive Mr Cohen, you made an English town change its historic name, is that funny?.

Like many TV characters that have reached the big screen this whole thing feels padded out, forced and struggling for material. Unfortunately this is no different despite being a brilliant and popular creation by Cohen. I think it was a bad choice to go down the actual movie with a plot route as we all know this character like all of Cohen's characters works better when lampooning reality. Seeing the highly naive and thick Ali G trying to strike a conversation with a real politician about current affairs only for him to lower the tone and go off on completely random filthy tangent is what its all about. Hearing Ali comment on his bitch 'Julie' or his various friends from Staines and the things they get up too is amusing to listen too, but to actually now see these people spoils the myth as it were.

Of course the biggest draw with Ali G is the highly accurate satirical mocking of young British teens (black and white) who imitate the American rapper gang culture. This is the crux of his laughs, his not so secret weapon, talking with this modern day slang cum multicultural cockney hip-hop dialect that is frankly cringeworthy to listen too when anyone speaks with it, especially white folk. Add to that his heavily Jamaican/Afro American/UK chav influenced streetwise attire with bling, tracksuits and big trainers and you have a great controversial character ready for upset public figures.

Thing is all of this is completely lost in the film because there is none of that, its just a silly bland plot about Ali trying to save a community centre in Staines. There are no funny clever stinging moments because its a scripted movie, instead they must rely on childish toilet humour which only works part of the time, its immediately unoriginal and loses all credibility. Coupled with the fact the cast is made up of big names merely sinks this project even further, big names equals no risks, no proper laughs, no awkwardness or embarrassing moments, its all played safe which is not what Cohen and his creations are about.

Now I would be lying if I said there were no funny moments in this film, there aren't many but they are there. For me personally the best and most recognisable lampooning of my home country would be at the start of the film when Ali is 'street racing' in his hyper modded Renault down the high street. This very short sequence is extremely amusing because of the stringent UK road laws and the fact we have to drive at 20-30mph everywhere. Watching these two uber modded cars crawl down the high street at 30...pulling up sharply at the 20mph speed board is hilarious, literately the best bit in the film.

Its actually reasonably funny during the start of the film whilst Ali is within his home territory of Staines and his mates. After that as we follow him to Westminster it just loses any fresh comedy hopes and becomes so derivative, the character of Ali G does grow somewhat but only in the wrong way. Instead of the chavy boorish dunderhead we all know and love we end up with some Americanised superfly looking pimp that just feels too much of a stretch even for this character. We all know about the typical UK traits that Ali G represents, we all roll our eyes at the image he portrays because we all see it in our daily lives, that's why its so funny. If you take that away and go down another countries cultural route then your target audience won't relate to it anymore, simple as that.

In the end this film has just gone too far over the top with the character and its just not funny. Had it been a mockumentary style flick like 'Borat' then it would have worked I'm sure, but this option doesn't. Its basically puerile with dated stupid visuals gags and must resort to showing Charles Dance in drag to try and raise a laugh, and it fails at that. Such a huge huge error for the direction of this film that has resulted in a very very average outcome.