ALI G. IN DA HOUSE
UK, 2002, 88 minutes, Colour.
Sacha Baron Cohen, Martin Freeman, Rhona Mitra, Charles Dance, Michael Gambon.
Cameos: Naomi Campbell, John Humphries, Jon Snow.
Directed by Mark Mylod.
Sacha Baron Cohen worked on Comedy Night doing various impersonations and characters in the late 1990s. His first major creation was Ali G. in The Eleven O’Clock? Show in 1998. He then had his own show. One of the guests in the show was the man from Kazakhstan, Borat. In 2002, Ali G. in Da House was made as a feature film, not so much interviews as was later to be the case with Sacha Baron Cohen but a spoof satire of London life and English politics. Borat also appears as an international function at Chequers.
The film has Sacha Baron Cohen’s style of humour, impersonations, the embodiment of stereotypes and prejudices, the bodily function jokes, a preoccupation with sex and sexuality, some self-deprecating sequences as well as an underlying vanity in the character. The film shows life in Staines in London’s west, with a parody of the gangs and their confrontations, small time – and generally afraid of a fight. Everything is in the words.
The political side of the film is a plot by a politician, played suavely by Charles Dance, who wants to oust the prime minister (Michael Gambon) and chooses Ali G. as a surefire loser candidate. However, with some comic adventures on the way, he wins, takes his place in parliament, has the motto ‘Keep it real’ which everybody repeats, becomes part of the cabinet, offers various policies and tries to make peace between African nations at a meeting at Chequers. It does not quite work out as expected – but he finishes up as ambassador in Jamaica.
Martin Freeman appears in a comic role. Rhona Mitra is the assistant to the Machiavellian politician. There are cameo appearances by Naomi Campbell as well as newsreaders John Humphries and John Snow.
The film has the basic humour that was to appear also in Borat and Bruno. Baron Cohen’s co-writer, Dan Mazar, wrote this film with Cohen and continued to write for Borat and Bruno.
1.Sacha Baron Cohen as comic, comedian, satirist, spoof and slapstick humour?
2.The style of comedy: impersonations, racial and cultural prejudices, stereotypes? Appearance, beanie, clothes, glasses? The vanity of the character yet vulnerability? Seeming lack of awareness of himself? The slapstick comedy, sex and his self-centredness, bodily and bodily function humour? Politics? The initial dream, Ali G. in Los Angeles, the women, the gangs, the shooting? Waking up with the dog?
3.London, Staines in the suburbs, the streets, the orderly homes, the centre, the shops? The cars and the broadcasts?
4.Parliament, the exteriors, the interiors and the House of Commons, Chequers and the interiors?
5.The musical score, the songs – like Ali singing Three Times a Lady? The rap music, creating it?
6.The cast, the comedians, the serious actors being good sports?
7.Ali’s name, Alistair and his not liking it? In bed, the dog, the dream, his grandmother, his clothes and the glasses, the beanie, his vehicle, outside the shop, the confrontation with the Eastside gang, the owner warning them off, the race in the cars at thirty miles an hour? Poking fun at the gangs, later their joining and working together?
8.The Westside gang, Ali as leader, Ricky C. and Dave? Dave having no voice? The continued rap and the style? Ali going to the class for the children, the badges – growing marijuana, swearing? The threat to the centre?
9.The prime minister and Michael Gambon’s style? Politics, parliament, the prospect of the elections, Ali G. being elected, the prime minister inviting him to the cabinet? Advice, the policies and reports on drugs, pornography? The meeting at Chequers, world peace in Africa? The saving of the centre – with the hope for percentage increase in lead? His behaviour, his being mistaken for the prime minister, the video, the prime minister being ousted? The reconciliation? David, his sinister approach, scheming, his assistant, choosing Ali as the candidate, hoping for a big swing against him, the campaign, the errors, his enjoying it? The tape, the ousting of the prime minister, his taking over? His finally being exposed, punching Ali (and Ali’s cowardice), the shooting? His being sacked, going to Jamaica – and appearing with the dress and dancing?
10.The campaign, Ali obtuse, his slogan ‘Keep it real’, his encounters with people, misunderstanding their requests, his limited policy, his repeating the TV interviewers’ questions? The broadcasts around the street, the debate with his opponent – and his offhand remark about the horse and the resignation of the opponent? Winning?
11.In parliament, his clothes, taking over, his popularity, the policy on migration and letting the women in, the drugs and his being shown around the stash, the pornography? Getting Ricky and Dave in as experts, their watching and smoking?
12.The build-up to the meeting at Chequers, the diplomats, including Borat? His taking Me Julie, the clothes, her being left alone, his mingling with the guests, his inopportune remarks, his going upstairs, the prime minister going up with the African minister, the noise, the guests misinterpreting? The prime minister returning – and the ambiguity of his explanation of what had happened? The innuendo?
13.Ali, ousted, packing up, taking the telephone? Ordinary life? David’s assistant coming to see him, offering herself, asking him to keep it quiet? His conscience and his concern for Me Julie and her reputation?
14.The gang, combining, the break-in, to open the safe, the cars, the linking of all the batteries, linking arms, the opening? David, the gun, punching Ali out, trapping the other two in the room – and their behaviour?
15.The assistant, her change of heart, her speech – and its being ridiculed as sentimental? The prime minister restored?
16.Ali G. to Jamaica, the ambassador, the marijuana crops, the girls, with Julie, with David?
17.The comedy in the light of Borat and Bruno – similarities, development of humour or not?