A few years back I rented a copy of Ali G Indahouse: The Movie, not because I was a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen's (suddenly & amazingly popular) character -- but because I'd read somewhere that the movie was "theatrically unreleasable" in the United States, mainly because we Americans hadn't yet caught on to Cohen's patented brand of inspired madness. So now with the Ali G craze all but evaporated, and with the Borat buzzings (finally) dying down, I figure it would be a good time to give Ali G Indahouse: The Movie a second spin.
The plot (and to describe it as "bare bones" would be a compliment) goes like this: Ali G is one of those white boys who loves black culture so much that he pretends he is black. (Or a spoiled white kid's approximation of "black culture," anyway.) So already the comedy springs from the obvious stupidity of Ali G himself, but it also works as a satire of the sub-culture as well. (At least it did in the TV series.) Anyway, Ali G springs into action when his local youth center is threatened with demolition, and some local politician-jerks decide to use Ali as a political puppet, etc. It's all just a skinny little framework on which to hang Ali's trademark goofiness.
It's a mixed bag, at best, and this is coming from a guy who thinks Sacha Baron Cohen is one of the planet's funniest people. The problem is this: As Ali G wanders through a very conventional "sketch-turned-feature" screenplay, he leans way too heavily on material scatological, obvious and well beneath the comedian's talents. The few stray doses that do find their way into the film are quickly shoved aside for another fart joke, dick reference, or "oh so quotable" jumbled profanities.
Or perhaps it's just that the Ali G character is best taken in smaller doses. What works for 8 or 12 minutes may grow a lot of whiskers when stretched out to feature length, and that definitely seems to be the case with Ali G Indahouse; it's got 12 or 15 moments of inspired comedy ... stuck in an 88-minute frame packed with full-on wheel-spinning.
Then again, it is pretty funny to see guys like Michael Gambon and Charles Dance joyously humiliating themselves in the name of comedy.
Audio/Video: Dolby Digital 5.1 English with subtitles in English, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish. The flick is presented in an anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) aspect ratio, and looks pretty solid for a low-budget quickie-comedy.
Extras: First up is an audio commentary with Sacha Baron Cohen, only he's commentating as Ali G, of course. Fans of the character will no doubt appreciate the extra material, but I wouldn't have minded some insights from Cohen or some of his co-conspirators.
Then we get 22 minutes of deleted/extended scenes and bloopers, a 12-minute on-set video diary, a 2-minute Talking the Talk featurette, a photo gallery, and a theatrical trailer.
Rent It if you like the original series, but don't expect a big improvement. Buy It if you're a Cohen completist, but don't expect to watch it too often.