Character performance is the forte of Sacha Baron Cohen. No matter how many projects, musicals, and television programmes he does, he’ll always be Ali G and Borat to a generation of youths who lived through a golden age of British comedy. If one thing is inevitable, then, it’s the release of a movie tie-in. Some managed to escape the clutches of such a fate, with Peep Show and Father Ted not mustering the courage to flounder their way through a feature film. Other shows have reaped the benefits, In the Loop is possibly the best example of that, but Ali G Indahouse is neither well-written enough to compete with the flagbearers of good adaptation, nor is it consistent enough to rival that of the show it’s based off of.
A surprisingly strong cast of British legends, from Michael Gambon to Charles Dance, and with a sprinkling of Tony Way and Martin Freeman, the film has all it needs to pull together a formidable story. It doesn’t manage it, though, I can only imagine the issue being poor editing and a story that just doesn’t work for this character, rather than a lack of vision from Cohen and director Mark Mylod. Someone that doesn’t quite muster confidence, Mylod’s direction does what it can to make sense of a story that values its humour over its narrative stability. It all falls apart rather quickly, the contrived and zany nature of the film never manages to overcome the frankly poor storytelling.
Huge swathes of cheap innuendos, but some of them do come off with oddly charming finesse. A montage of Ali G and his promises to parliament comes off relatively well. But for every _ there are two poorly timed or bland jokes lingering round the corner. I didn’t think it possible to have a Borat cameo feel out of place and underwhelming, but Ali G Indahouse proves otherwise. Pacing is all over the place, there are a few fourth wall breaks that don’t really work or add anything humour wise, but I suppose it’s worth a try.
Incongruous for its time period, but now feels dated, bland, and boring. Swearing children, gangster rap and London-themed slang, Ali G Indahouse feels like a very weak iteration of the popular TV icon. Another weak outing for Cohen, a shame since the other characters from the show work so well. Perhaps Ali G is the shake-up British politics needs, telling us to keep it real and calling everyone a batty. It’s food for thought. Far from the superb quality of the TV show, but it’s always nice to see an adaptation that doesn’t completely ruin the few charms Ali G has as a character.