Sunday, November 7, 2010

Movie with Abe: Four Lions

Four Lions
Directed by Christopher Morris
Released October 5, 2010

This fall’s funniest comedy so far is also one of the strangest and most controversial-sounding films. “Four Lions” follows a group of idiotic British jihadists seeking to discover how they can contribute to the cause. It’s unlike any other film that’s been released in that it imbues its characters with such all-encompassing stupidity yet doesn’t fall prey to those same follies in the creation of the film around them. As an easily comprehensible summary, the end result is what “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” might have been like if Adam Sandler had been more focused on sophisticated parody rather than immature humor.

To make that comparison isn’t meant to liken the folks behind this gem to Sandler and Zohan director Dennis Dugan. “Four Lions” is constructed in an extraordinarily intelligent, witty manner that follows its characters on an unlikely and almost impossible journey that begins with their aspirations of martyrdom. The dedication of its characters to the cause is matched by the frequency of their unintelligent acts. Even the smartest member, de facto leader Omar, manages to shoot a rocket launcher in the wrong direction, sending the missile towards his fellow training camp soldiers rather than the enemy helicopter hovering above.

What makes the film work, more than anything, is the portrayal of the main characters. There’s such an innocence present in figures like Waj, who holds a comically miniature gun during his martyr speech and shakes his head back and forth rapidly so that he won’t be caught on camera, and Fessal, who attaches a bomb to a crow with rather devastating and non-PETA-friendly results. And then there’s Barry, the biggest loudmouth of the crew, who attacks the use of a term invoked during a panel debate only moments after he uses it. Credit is due to the entire cast, with Nigel Lindsay representing the standout as Barry.

“Four Lions” may sound far-fetched, and it is. Yet it’s blissfully aware of that, choosing instead to follow these preposterous people around as they continue to muck about and somehow keep on existing without getting caught or suspected by the authorities. It’s absolutely hilarious and contains many laugh-out-loud moments. It certainly reaches a level of ridiculousness by its end, yet taking it all with a grain of salt helps make it go down more easily and increases its hilarity considerably. While it does contain a surprising moment or two of political commentary, this film is preachiness-free and immensely enjoyable.


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