Keep reminding yourself: it's only a movie.

Like horror movies familiar with that sort of tagline, terrorist comedy Four Lions' (read our review here) incendiary premise goes out of its way to suggest it really shouldn't be just a movie. The titular lions are a quartet of Muslim extremists; wannabe suicide bombers whose goal to disrupt the London marathon is no joke, but whose bungling and idiocy provides a comedy that'll keep you laughing until its (potentially) explosive finale.

It's no wonder that the media in the UK, where the film goes on general release today, is at turns amused and outraged. For some it's a well-observed and intelligent act of defiance out to ridicule the people it bases itself on. For others it's a deeply offensive joke at the expense of the victims of these acts of terror. But they're all in agreement on one thing: this is pure, grade-A cinematic controversy.

No wonder that it comes from Chris Morris, who's gone out of his way to redefine the word 'controversy' since he created spoof news show, The Day Today, for British TV in 1994. When his follow-up, Brass Eye, aired in '97, it blurred the line between the increasingly rife sensationalism of the TV documentaries it spoofed and comedy so surreal it's a wonder anyone took it seriously. Nevertheless, a 2001 special on pedophilia provoked more than 1000 complaints to the UK's Independent Television Commission.

Is Chris Morris the antichrist of British comedy, as so many opinion pieces in the UK would be keen to suggest this week?
categories Cinematical