This is a statement that I didn’t ever think I would make. Who, in their right minds, thinks that it’s possible for terrorism — especially the kind that involves extremists similar to those who executed the big one in New York about nine years ago — to be central to a very funny story. But it’s true. In Chris Morris’ Four Lions, terrorism — or perhaps more appropriately, the bumbling terrorists who are trying to do the terrorism — is very, very, very funny.As you may have heard by now — because we’ve been making a lot of noise about it — Four Lions is the first release of the fledgling Drafthouse Films, the distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse brand, based right here in the heart of Austin, Texas. It is the next phase in the Drafthouse’s quest to take over the world. A plan that includes the best theater experience (Alamo Drafthouse), a one of a kind film festival (Fantastic Fest) and now a means by which to take unique films from fearless filmmakers (like Chris Morris) and put them out into the world. On November 5, they begin their quest with Four Lions. Right now, there’s nothing but proof that they will see success… That is, if you’d believe that terrorism can be funny.
Perhaps the official synopsis says it best: “Chris Morris’ Four Lions is a whip-smart, laugh-out-loud comedy that illuminates the war on terror through satire and farce. Four Lions proves that while terrorism may be about ideology, it’s also about idiots. In a British city, four men have a secret plan. Omar (Riz Ahmed) is disillusioned about the treatment of muslims around the world and is determined to become a soldier. This is the most exciting idea Waj (Kayvan Novak) has ever heard. Better still it’s a no brainer because Omar does his thinking for him. Opposed to Omar and everyone else on earth is the white islamic convert Barry (Nigel Lindsay). He’d realize he joined the cell to channel his nihilism – if he had half the self knowledge of a duck. Faisal (Adeel Akhtar) is the odd man out. He can make a bomb – but he can’t blow himself up just now coz his sick dad has “started eating newspaper”. Instead he’s training crows to fly bombs through windows. This is what Omar has to deal with. They must strike a decisive blow on their own turf but can any of them strike a match without punching himself in the face? Four Lions plunges us beyond seeing these young men as unfathomably alien. It undermines the folly of just wishing them away or, even worse, alienating the entire culture from which they emerge. The film is neither pro nor anti religious. The jokes fly out of the characters’ conflicts, excesses and mistakes. Crackling with wit and tension, Four Lions is the essential response to our failure to engage with reality and a high toast to the idea that laughter is better than killing.”
Or perhaps we should quote Cole Abaius’ review from SXSW: “Every so often, it becomes artistically necessary for someone to come along and combine a serious political issue with The Three Stooges. In lesser hands, it can be an offensive disaster, but fortunately it was director Christopher Morris that answered the call from fate this time. With Four Lions he attempts to bring a sense of levity to terrorism – specifically the brand of terrorism that the news cycle has brought to the forefront of our psyche within the past decade: Islamic extremism. Jihadism. The Mujahideen. This might be the most dangerous territory to go mining for comedy, but Morris does it the right way – by finding the comedy first, cleaning off the political mess, and delivering it dead pan to the audience.”
Still not enough proof? How about the names of reputable outlets that called it “Funny,” as illustrated by the poster below:
Alright, fine. Still not sure about terrorism being funny? Watch the damn trailer:
For more on the opening of Four Lions, check out the official Drafhouse Films website. I would also recommend watching Cole’s interview with director Chris Morris, which can be found here.
Links provided by Zergnet, which sounds like a villain but is really quite helpful.
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