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Movie Review

Ali G in Da House

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Directed by Mark Mylod starring Sacha Baron Cohen, Charles Dance and Michael Gambon.

From the best slot on 'The 11 O'Clock Show' to having his own programme to presenting the MTV Awards and now becoming a movie star, it's been a whirlwind couple of years for Ali G's creator Sacha Baron Cohen. But while Cohen has admirably refused to tone down his comedy en route to the mainstream, it's fair to say that some of Ali's charm has been lost along the way.

The wannabe B-Boy was at his best when he was sending up the likes of Sammy Wilson, Sir Rhodes Boyson and Tony Benn and other public figures who had absolutely no idea who Ali was or whether he was real. Now that he's everywhere, bus stops to music videos, Ali can't swing the same sucker punches which made him such compulsive viewing in the first place. All of which makes you wonder whether the timing of this film - three full years since people began to sit up and take notice of Ali - is just a little after the fact.

Thankfully director Mark Mylod and Cohen (who co-wrote the script) haven't dissed Ali too much and come up with a film which, while in no way as funny as his TV interviews, will still make you laugh out loud. It is however, the guiltiest of pleasures. Best described as 'Carry on Homey', the film is one joke made up of three parts - cannabis, bodily functions and sex - which runs for approximately 90 minutes.

The story which drives the gag finds Ali G becoming an MP to save the most beloved building in his 'hood, the John Nike Leisure. Along the way he manages to give a moribund government a new slogan ('Keep it Real'), rework the UK's immigration policy with citizenship for 'fit' women only, become best buddies with the Prime Minister (Gambon) and incur the wrath of his power hungry second-in-command (Dance). And while there are a few nice swipes at how those in power will latch on to any soundbyte to appeal to the kids, 'Ali G in Da House' is crotch comedy of the highest/lowest order, which makes the work of the Farrelly Brothers look like a byword for highbrow wit.

With an 18's certificate and a too-much-isn't-enough attitude the film effectively rules out younger viewers and that section of the dating public who worry about what their other half will think of them if they admit to liking this film. Mylod and Cohen could have make a far better film if they had opted to make a spoof documentary a la 'Best in Show', but overall Ali's graduation from little screen to big is far less painful than his opening scene encounter with an over-amorous terrier.

Neither director nor star however should push their luck with a sequel.

Harry Guerin

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