A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that in this movie from the creator of Borat, sex and drug jokes are rampant and spring up in the most unlikely and unsuitable places (like making a lewd remark to the Queen of England). Though Ali G and his foul-mouthed posse are openly homophobic (tossing around the anti-gay slur "batty boy"), they also experiment with gay sex at the end (and decide they like it). The street-gang lifestyle -- at least a white-boy mimicry of it -- is made to look fun and empowering. There are lots of fantasy-figure girls in skimpy bikinis, and quick flashes of female toplessness (in still photos) and the (fake) tip of Ali's enormous penis. Fat people are the subject of repeated gags.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Ali (actually "Alistair Graham") is a chap who styles himself a trendy rapper/club MC, speaks in a West Indian patois, and acts like his world is an ethnic ghetto of gangs, guns, whores, and hip-hop. No, he's not in South Central L.A., he lives in Staines, a sleepy suburb outside of London, a place more like Wallace & Gromit's 'hood. One of Ali G's passions (besides sex, marijuana, and silly turf battles with rival posses) is a small rec center, where he mentors little kids not to be Boyz-N-the-Hood casualties. When the government cuts funds to the center, Ali G stages a protest outside the Houses of Parliament. This gets him noticed by the scheming Deputy Prime Minister (Charles Dance), who decides Ali is the biggest idiot ever, and if Ali G went into politics the government would collapse from embarrassment and scandal, and the Deputy PM could take over. Elected, Ali G and his "keepin' it real" policies (only admitting immigrants who are thin, pretty women; using drug deals as classroom math lessons) prove amazingly popular instead.
Is it any good?
If you enjoy the Ali G character, you should get good laughs out of the film. Comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen created the character of Ali G on TV and took him to the movies in ALI G INDAHOUSE, a theatrical feature that saw little release in the U.S., despite Ali G's cult following on cable and his takeoff on American rap/hip-hop culture. It's now on DVD, as are episodes of Cohen's Da Ali G Show, which had a "prank" talk format -- unsuspecting interviewees confronted with Ali (and sometimes Cohen's alternate character Borat) and aghast at his inane/offensive questions. None of that is in this movie, a more standard triumph-of-the-nitwit farce.
You know the drill: an uninhibited, overgrown kid prevails over stuffy authority-figure villains from higher social classes. Cohen's comic timing is razor-sharp and nothing's to be taken seriously. The dumb-guy gags make it so parents can interpret the satire as anti-hip-hop or pro-hip-hop (kids will lean to the latter). But Ali G does work best in half-hour doses. Furthermore, obscene language, toilet humor and sex/drug fantasies are full-on here, not just inferred as they were on the talk show.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the romanticizing of "hip-hop" gang life and young people who live by the codes of urban ghettoes, even though they've never set foot in one. What do young people get from pretending they live in urban war zones? And is it all that different from the granddads pretending to be gunslinger cowboys as kids? When does the rap lifestyle get harmful? What other movies use exaggerated characters to lampoon real-life trends?
- In theaters: March 22, 2002
- On DVD or streaming: November 2, 2004
- Cast: Michael Gambon, Rhona Mitra, Sacha Baron Cohen
- Director: Mark Mylod
- Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong sexual content, pervasive crude humor, language and drug content.