out of five
: 88 mins
Extremely juvenile, lowbrow comedy in the Kevin & Perry mould – fans and connoisseurs of gross-out humour will lap this up, but it’s essentially a one-joke movie.
After the relative success of Kevin & Perry Go Large it was only inevitable that Sacha Baron Cohen’s TV creation would be the next in line for the big-screen treatment.
As with Kevin & Perry, there were doubts as to whether the humour of an essentially one-joke, sketch-based character would stretch to the feature-length format and, frankly, if the movie were any longer, then it wouldn’t have. Luckily, however, the film does just enough to sustain the laughs over its necessarily short running time.
The film opens with one of the best jokes - the opening credits are the
‘titles’ to a Hollywood movie-type L.A. Gangsta dream that Ali is having, before he is rudely (very rudely) awakened by his dog…
After that we quickly get to meet Ali’s nan, Ali’s girlfriend (“Mejulie”) and the members of the Staines ‘Westside Posse’ (including his best friend Ricky C, played by the excellent Martin Freeman, from The Office) – in fact, the scenes with Ali and his gang strutting around Staines and squaring up to the ‘Eastside’ Posse are among the film’s highlights.
The plot is predictably ludicrous. When Ali discovers that the ‘John Nike Leisure Centre’ where he runs a scout group is going to be closed down, he chains himself to a railing in protest. In doing so, he inadvertently brings himself to the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer (Charles Dance), who is scheming to replace the Prime Minister (Michael Gambon).
Dance convinces Gambon to let Ali stand in the Staines by-election as ‘the voice of youth’, thinking that it will be a disaster and the PM will have to resign. However, Ali’s “Keep it real” manifesto takes the public by storm and he becomes the country’s most popular MP, implementing policies such as ‘only the fittest illegal immigrants should be allowed in’…
That said, the plot is really just an excuse for a string of nob-gags,
sexual sight-gags (e.g. Ali suggestively eating a canapé) and
Marijuana-based jokes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Inevitably, some of the jokes fall flat (indeed some are positively
embarrassing), but, despite his immense stupidity, the character of Ali is engaging enough so that you’re pretty much guaranteed a decent chuckle every few minutes, even if there are no real belly-laughs to be had.
It’s well-acted, particularly by Cohen and Freeman, though occasionally you find yourself wondering just how much money they had to pay Charles Dance, especially in his final scene. Similarly, it doesn’t hurt that Rhona Mitra is in it, for purely Shallow And Obvious Reasons. Also, for all its juvenile, puerile moments, the script does come up with a couple of inspired routines.
In short, then, fans of Ali G won’t be disappointed, though anyone looking for sophisticated political satire will be. If you’re after an undemanding dose of smutty humour, however, then this is the movie for you. Worth watching, particularly if you’re a fan.