So you've got a hugely successful TV creation who's at his best when showing up clueless politicians who think they understand yoof cultcha. How do you turn that into a movie? Make a satirical feature-length mockumentary, a kind of semi-scripted Roger&Me? That could work. Maybe you could do Ali G Goes To Hollywood, and have him rip the piss out of a few A-listers who aren't in on the joke. Or even follow his journey there, and turn it into a culture-clash road movie. Yeah! Or rather, no. Ali G co-creator Sacha Baron Cohen and studio Working Title didn't go for any of these options. Instead they went back to the playground...
It's puerile, it's facile, it's something else ending with `ile', but - and we almost hate to admit it - it's also fun. Okay, it's a bit disappointing that Cohen and co didn't take a bolder approach, but what they do deliver is a fish-out-of-water splash-around which'll make you giggle guiltily throughout.
We meet Ali in his hometown of Staines and get to chuckle at him and his ludicrous 'Westside' posse strutting around a privet-fringed suburbia. Then, as part of the malevolent Chancellor Of The Exchequer's (Charles Dance) plan to overthrow the prime minister (Michael Gambon), Ali is convinced to stand in the Staines by-election. The PM is desperate for someone who's "in touch" with the youngsters, and the Chancellor's looking for someone who is guaranteed to lose their never-specified party's seat. But, incredibly, Ali wins and goes to parliament. Where, of course, his stupid, childish and spliff-obsessed antics make him the most popular cabinet member ever - and a major spanner in the Chancellor's evil works.
Given that the government in question is obviously supposed to be Tory and has been in power for, we're told, "nearly 20 years", it's clear that child-of-Thatcher Cohen has created a fantasy Britain based around his own boyhood memories. Which is why Ali G Indahouse - right down to its body-popping climax - will probably mean more to those who remember He-Man cartoons and breakdancing on cardboard mats than the teens of today.
Nostalgia aside, the rest of the movie is little more than a string of shameless sex gags, poo jokes and much, much, marijuana-based merry-making - a kind of Carry On Cheech And Chong with a chunky-bassline soundtrack. But Cohen benefits massively from some strong support, including Kellie Bright doing a spot-on lovable white trash turn as Ali's girlfriend Mejulie and The Office's excellent Martin Freeman bigging it up as stupid sidekick Ricky C.
It isn't going to redefine British comedy, it lacks the satirical bite of Ali G's best work and there's no chance of selling it to the Americans, but Cohen has just about pulled it off. In the lowest-brow way possible, of course.
Instead of keeping it real, Ali G's gone for a full-blown comedy adventure, complete with joints, farts, big titties and an even bigger penis. The result? Big-screen Staines Massive, medium-sized laughs.
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