A tale of two comedies

You wouldn’t think two films in the same genre could be so different. Such was the case with Four Lions and Hot Tub Time Machine. The only things they have in common – both are comedies and both are great entertainment.

Four Lions

“We have a Wookie down”

Plot-in-a-nutshell – A gang of incredibly inept extreme Muslim fundamentalists attempt to organise a suicide bombing. With hilarious results. No, really.

A lot of people in the UK with know the name Chris Morris from the infamous Brass Eye TV show. It really trod the edge of decency and as a result managed to hit a vein of humour that a lot of shows otherwise wouldn’t dare mine. Four Lions taps this same vein.

I don’t know many writers who could get away with making so much fun of an entire religion, especially one which tends to get a little irate in return as Islam. Morris does it extremely well, I think partly by showing two sides of the Muslim fence – but neither in a good light. There are even some good, dramatic clashes between the two.

What’s most important, though, is the humour. Lashings of it. So many quotes you won’t know where to begin if you’re a person who makes posters for student’s bedrooms. I have not heard a cinema laugh in unison for a long time. I also haven’t heard a person shouting out in the cinema for ages, but that was just one prick and he was given a tongue-lashing by several people. Tosser.

The cast are excellent, the acting superb and the direction spot on. Unlike some of Morris’s earlier work, it never quite hits being over the top. Silly, yes. Straining credibility, possibly. But never quite pushing it to the point where it becomes utterly impossible to believe.

If you are a person who can take sensitive subjects like religion with a pinch of salt and/or a dose of humour then you simply can’t afford to miss this excellent piece of film.

Hot Tub Time Machine

“Do I really gotta be the asshole who says we got in this thing and went back in time?”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Four guys hop in a hot tub, break the controls and go back to the 1980s. With hilarious consequences. No, really.

OK, it has a really awful title. It also has a pretty poor premise, but at least it doesn’t take this seriously. As the guys realise how goofy the whole idea of a time-travelling hot tub is there is a notable aside to the camera that basically says “look, we know, ok?”

I’d briefly describe this film as Back To The Future (time travel, possibility of wiping out a cast member and Crispin Glover) meets Road Trip (lewd humour and tons of swearing) with a side of Road Hogs (four guys bonding) and perhaps the slightest dash of Groundhog Day (romantic interlude).

Given the low-brow nature of the film, it’s incredibly well scripted and acted. There’s just the right amount of character development to allow a plot without it overshadowing the gutter humour. Hot Tub is fully aware of how silly it is, but like its characters finding themselves in an 80s they recall fondly, it simply doesn’t care.

One of the things I’m most grateful for is the fact that the trailer didn’t give away the best jokes. That was my one failing with the otherwise excellent (and similar, I suppose) The Hangover. This film has so many great belly laughs, that a trailer simply couldn’t contain them all anyway. Like Four Lions above, the audience were lapping it up.

If you’re offended by profanity and sexually-related humour, your best avoiding this. Likewise if fluorescent legwarmers really make you cringe. Otherwise, this should be very high on your “to see” list.

Oh, and the soundtrack is kick-ass.

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