Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

Four Lions

Chris Morris read about a small group of Yemeni jihadists who planned to blow up a warship in the bay. They loaded their small boat with explosives, and the boat sank. Morris — the English TV satirist whose The Day Today and Brass Eye prefigured The Daily Show and The Colbert Report but in much starker, more confrontational tones — saw in this anecdote a larger truth about many of the Muslim fanatics who would destroy Western civilization: they're idiots. Hence this cauterizing comedy about some Anglo-Pakistani would-be terrorists in the northern city of Sheffield. One wants to train crows as tiny suicide bombers; another hopes to radicalize the faithful by blowing up a mosque. Morris provides no "normal" outsider to mediate the group's solemn lunacy and vagrant charm; viewers must decide on their own what's funny or awful, or awful funny. Be warned that the movie dares to question both the efficiency of homegrown terrorists and the public's sustaining fear of an unlikely threat. The result is the blackest, ballsiest political comedy since Dr. Strangelove.