Four Lions

Early last evening I saw Chris Morris‘s Four Lions — an unsettling, at times off-putting, at other times genuinely amazing black political comedy about London-based Jihadists — Islamic radicalism meets the Four Stooges/Keystone Cops. It’s sometimes shocking and sometimes heh-heh funny, and occasionally hilarious.

Morris uses a verbal helter-skelter quality reminiscent of In The Loop, and yet the subject is appalling — a team of doofuses who dream of bombing and slaughtering in order to enter heaven and taste the fruit of virgins. It’s amazing and kind of pleasing that a comedy of this sort has been made, but I don’t want to think about the reactions in Manhattan once it opens.

At times it felt flat and frustrating (I couldn’t understand half of it due to the scruffy British accents) and at other times I felt I was watching something akin to Dr. Strangelove — ghastly subject matter leavened with wicked humor. An agent I spoke to after the screening said, “I don’t know if the American public is ready for this film.” He’s probably right, but Four Lions is an absolute original — I’ve never seen anything like it, nor have I have ever felt so torn in my reactions. I’d love to see it again, but with subtitles.

  • Eloi Manning

    Sounds like much of Morris’s previous work; making you laugh at the genuinely disturbing.

    He’s a genius. Can’t wait to see it.

  • mtnz

    Agreed, he’s a genius and I can’t WAIT to see this.

    Armando Ianucci is good, but no-one is as fearless and entertaining as Morris.

    And Well

  • http://scaringsquirrels.blogspot.com BRob

    Please! No! No subtitles! We speak english in the UK. As has been said before, the rest of the english-speaking world does not need subtitles for US films where accents are strong. We have to deal with god knows how many differing accents from a country as big as the US and don’t complain.

    Should we get subtitles for The Princess and the Frog because it’s set in the deep south? Or for Fargo to combat the Minnesota accent? No, of course not, because we are exposed to these accents all the time. Spending more time with different accents makes you understand them more. It’s not as though these movies have people with really strong Aberdeen or Geordie accents, where it’s become of aquestion of dialect.

  • http://scaringsquirrels.blogspot.com/ BRob

    On the other hand, I cannot wait to see this film. With the exception of Nathan Barley, Chris Morris is a comedy genius with proper daring. The clip going around is hilarious. I love the Dad’s Army comparison.

  • mtnz

    And Wells, bear in mind that UK audiences have lived with terrorism of various kinds for thirty years. They’ll handle this just fine, you could argue taht poking fun at your ‘enemy’ is a valuable part of the coping process.

    Speaking as someone directly touched by the 7/7 bombings I am really looking forward to this film. I love how you worry about only the US audiences: what about London and Madrid? :-)

  • Benny Coleman

    Chris Morris has been doing this kind of thing for the past 10-15 years. He made paedophilia funny incuring the hysterical wrath of our right wings tabloids, especially the Daily Mail. (Which if you look at the “Paedogeddon” episode closely, was the real subject of this particular kind of work).

  • http://kingdomofdoom.wordpress.com/ TulseLuper

    I really hope there is some US distributor out there with the guts to pick this film up. I have to see this film.

  • Eloi Manning

    He did this about the IRA back in the ’90s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nvfQw8UCDE

  • PastePotPete

    “As has been said before, the rest of the english-speaking world does not need subtitles for US films where accents are strong. We have to deal with god knows how many differing accents from a country as big as the US and don’t complain.”

    Not the same thing at all. American movies *rarely* feature really heavy American accents. There’s parts of the South where the people are as incomprehensible as parts of Britain are accused of being, but the difference is we.don’t.put.those.people.in.movies.

    The only time you hear an accent in American movie is to please an actor’s ego or to help get award attention or to be quirky(Fargo). And even then it’s toned down.

    Think Slingblade. Billy Bob Thornton’s character in that, imagine if EVERYONE in that movie talked like that. Because I’ve been to towns where all the people do. Or worse.

    It’s no doubt a cynical, lowest-common-denominator business-as-opposed-to-art decision but I don’t really hear any complaints about it. Even from the people who talk like that.

  • erniesouchak

    Dear god, this was so wretchedly unfunny in its first 15 minutes that I walked out. Dr. Strangelove, huh?

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  • emogurl12

    To further comment on Jeff’s point, when there are no opening credits, I always feel like the director couldn’t be bothered with setting the tone or creating a mood for the movie. It shows a lack of creativity (to me, anyway) or a basic failure to finish the last 1% of the job. I guess I’m in the minority because my friends could care less. online fax

  • stuartspurs

    Not sure why you’ve put that they are London based if you watched this (remember the scene that they drive throughout the night to get to London).

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  • Jenny4

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