Remember the cries of "too soon" over terrorism-related jokes? Such restraint now seems like a relic from darker times, but courting laughs on the subject remains a challenge. Chris Morris, mastermind of punking Brit TV show Brass Eye, takes a crack at it nonetheless with this story of four bumbling would-be martyrs. The comic strategy is simple: Show nonthreatening dummies tripping over their words and themselves. While these ninnies' antics and banter are remarkably entertaining, the quality of the satire depends on when the movie is sending up ludicrous extremist logic and when it's just engaging in repetitive buffoonery.
The Muslim members of the never-in-their-dreams team include a callow young father (Ahmed), an absurdly aggressive white loudmouth (Lindsay) and a dope (Akhtar) who can't distinguish between rabbits and chickens. Goading one another along, they ruin a training run in Pakistan, a panel discussion about Islam and (mostly) a mission involving the London Marathon and mascot costumes. The U.K.-comedy tradition of nimble performers delivering ridiculous rhetoric (see In the Loop) helps keep a risky, rambling premise afloat, though it's not so much the bombs going off that might offend viewers as the film's unmistakable sense of sympathy for its clueless, peer-pressured terrorists.
Watch the trailer