Four Lions (Chris Morris, 2010)

What's it about? A satricial black comedy about a dim-witted gang of jihadist suicide bombers who target the London Marathon for a terrorist attack. That should be good for a laugh, eh?



Is it any good? It's a dodgy premise for comedy, but you'll probably find yourself laughing guiltily at some of the very funny ideas and moments here, before bursting into unapologetic laughter as the film proceeds. The key is that Morris shrewdly taps into a suspicion most people have about religious extremism; that killing yourself for a cause, rather than being a brave act of martyrdom, is a monumentally stupid thing to do, whatever your beliefs. Thus, he gets serious comic mileage out of the attempts of the gang to be serious terrorists, as they bicker, bluster, train crows to carry bombs and try to cover their tracks by pretending to be IRA members. Not that the police trying to catch them get off lightly either, their inability to distinguish a Wookiee from a Honey Monster leading to the shooting of an innocent civilian. It's funny stuff, brilliantly played in deadpan fashion by the game cast, and manages to laugh at the subject matter without trivialising it. For all that, though, it is not as sharply satricial as you might expect from Morris, given his TV output, and feels a little insubstantial overall. Still, you'll laugh, I guarantee it.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Sharp intakes of breath all round when this was announced, with Morris no doubt pencilled in for a Salman Rushdie-esque fatwa by those who know about such things. But it ended up being a lot less controversial than expected, partly because he had researched the topic so well that he was on solid ground throughout and partly because the humour defuses a lot of the potentially offensive material. In the end up, those who were determined to be offended were, whilst everyone else just enjoyed a good laugh. All in all, a success for first-time director Morris, who explains his inspiration for the film here and reveals some real-life anecdotes of idiotic extremists that wouldn't have been out of place in the film.

Anything else I should know? Morris is no stranger to controversy, having presided over spoof news programme Brass Eye. He was particularly demonised following the Paedophile episode, a satire of media hysteria and hypocrisy surrounding paedophile stories, which the media predictably responded to with mass hysteria and hypocrisy. In response, Morris was found shaking his head ruefully, muttering 'too easy, too easy'. Also, Morris has diced with death before. During his early days as a radio DJ, he once bungled a request, played Tony Bennett instead of Frank Sinatra and subsequently received a death threat. So he's well fit for religious extremists.

What does the Fonz think? Well funny, bro!

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