Ali G Indahouse Review
Sacha Baron Cohen's alter ego, Ali G, made a name for himself as an interviewer of hapless politicians, celebrities and other public figures. Launched into the public eye via the relatively poor 11 O’clock Show (as was The Office's Ricky Gervais), Ali G quickly became a firm favourite with the comedy loving British public. His satirical interviews saw him pretending to be of black origin whilst bamboozling his guests and masterfully goading them into a corner as they attempt to take him seriously.
Of course, once in the public eye, it was near enough impossible for Cohen to repeat the past success and his Ali G TV series took a different format. Thankfully there were still plenty of people who were none the wiser, and the highlights were often the 'round the table' discussions where Cohen would once again use his interviewing skills to make a mockery out of his guests - largely without their knowledge.
Now, in his third attempt to milk the Ali G creation, Cohen has brought him to the big screen. Unfortunately, it all goes a bit messy - the least funny bits of his show, or the DVD and Video compilation releases are almost certainly the basis for this expansion on Ali G in his non-interviewing life.
Set in various locations, both in the UK and America, Ali G Indahouse sees the Staines, John Nike Leisure Centre being threatened with closure. In an attempt to prevent the closure of the West Staines Massive's headquarters, Ali G sets about mounting a one-man protest while chained to a gate.
This brings him to the attention of the scheming Deputy Prime Minister, David Carlton (Charles Dance), who sees bringing Ali G into the fold of his political party as the MP for Staines, and also as the voice of the country's youth as an excellent opportunity to usurp the Prime Minister (Michael Gambon) and take control of the country.
Unfortunately, Ali G Indahouse, entirely lacks the satirical streak that made Ali's TV exploits such a joy to watch. Instead, Cohen's portrayal of Ali here is one of idiocy and the film fails to make any serious comment on society - something that Cohen has proved he is able to do with aplomb. What it is replaced with is a string of increasingly unfunny gross-out jokes. There are of course plenty of laughs, but for all the wrong reasons and there are only so many knob jokes a person can take. Ali G Indahouse steps well and truly over this line!
After an outstanding opening sequence set in an American ghetto, which is almost certainly the funniest part of the film, the humour quickly moves downhill into more and more farcical realms.
There is some heavyweight talent involved in the film - both Michael Gambon and Charles Dance must now be wondering what on earth they agreed to when signing themselves up to this production, and The Office's Tim (Martin Freeman) is as far removed from his more familiar roles, as Ali's West Staines Massive sidekick, Ricky C.
My only hope now, is that Cohen gives Ali G a well-deserved break. We've already seen that he's more than a one-note wonder with his other comic creation, Borat, and it will be very interesting to see just what direction we see Cohen take in the future.
Picture wise, the disc is near perfect. The print quality is good with only a few minor flecks of damage popping up from time to time. The DVD transfer is excellent with a good colour range, no sign of edge enhancement and nice deep blacks complementing the bright colour palette. There is no sign of posterisation or any sort of digital artefacting.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is surprisingly active with excellent use made of all five speakers and the sub throughout the film. The opening scene in the ghetto demonstrates this to excellent effect with good separation and lots of surround activity. The front soundstage is wide with the dialog firmly locked in the centre channel.
The extras are quite impressive. Starting off with the commentary that sees Ali G and Ricky C commenting on the film in character. It's actually an excellent addition to the film and frequently generates more laughs than the film does. Well worth a listen.
There is a selection of deleted scenes that see yet more tomfoolery on the part of Ali. Given the quality of some of the scenes in the film itself, many of these wouldn't have been out of place had they stayed in place - especially Ali's opening speech in Parliament. There is a short introduction by Ali G at the beginning then the scenes play through in sequence.
The Video Diary runs for around 12 minutes and sees Ali G, still in character conducting some more familiar behind-the-scenes interviews and taking us around a few of the scenes. Worth a watch just to see Ali goading a police office on Downing Street and for the interviews with the real life gangsters who took part in the film's opening scenes.
'Talkin' The Talk' sees a number of scenes from the film with translations of some Ali-speak. Similar in some ways to the subtitles scene in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels - just this time all presented vocally. It's has a very short running time of just a few minutes but offers some mild amusement.
Ali's Gallery is a small collection of stills and publicity shots and to round of the disc we have the three theatrical trailers put together for the film. All in all quite a nice selection of extras that add some additional laughs to the package.
All in all, Ali G Indahouse, is presented very well on DVD. Good picture, good sound and good extras almost make up for the disappointing nature of the film.