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Phil Mellows is a freelance journalist living in Brighton


  Four Lions


Director Christopher Morris (2010)


Halfway through this I was suddenly reminded of an episode of Dadís Army in which the platoon has to deal with a minefield on the beach. For some minutes the hilarity is dampened by the anxiety of watching our unlikely heroes slithering on their bellies in the sand, a hairís-breadth away from instant death.

Except that weíre pretty sure nobodyís going to get blown up. They all need to be back next week, after all.

Now imagine that episode of Dadís Army with real mines and real idiots. Thatís Four Lions, a bunch of bunglers planning an Al Quaeda-style suicide bombing with real explosives. We tend to feel sympathetic towards bungling idiots. They are even more stupid than we are. And theyíre not doing us any harm. Theyíre making us laugh. We like them for that. So itís quite disconcerting when they start blowing themselves up.

It makes it hard to know what to think about this big screen directorial debut by edgy TV satirist Chris Morris, who for some reason has reverted to the name his mother calls him for the cinema.

Thereís barely any resemblance to The Day Today and Brass Eye, where Morris dealt with taboo subjects through the distorting lens of a warped media, the object of his ridicule being the media rather than the issue.

And donít expect any insights into the cause and nature of modern terrorism either. Morris has little to say on this except perhaps that terrorists are more like ordinary people than we might assume. Theyíre not evil. Theyíre just stupid. Like us.

All that leaves us with is bungling idiots with a cause as material for a fairly old fashioned kind of sitcom. There are some very funny pieces of business. Thereís a great cameo by Julia Davis, and I liked the stupid police hostage negotiator on the megaphone trying to buddy a suicide bomber in the kebab shop: ďSo youíre an arse man?Ē

But I donít know. Iíd rather watch Dadís Army any day.

May 11, 2010

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