Four Lions

Drafthouse Films

Review in a Hurry: A vérité-style look at a group of extremely stupid British Muslims who aspire to become suicide bombers, Four Lions is full of funny and fearless humor that, like its protagonists, takes no prisoners. It's also the best movie of the year thus far.

The Bigger Picture: Barry (Nigel Lindsay), a middle-aged Caucasian is determined to bomb a mosque, supposedly in order to inspire Islamic blowback, having previously baked a cake in the shape of the World Trade Center and left it at a synagogue on the anniversary of 9-11.

Faisal (Adeel Akhtar), who pretends to be a woman while buying hair bleach, despite the fact that he has a thick beard and doesn't sound feminine in any way, is trying to train crows to be suicide bombers. Waj (Kayvan Novak) is a complete idiot, who doesn't understand that once you're in Pakistan, Mecca is no longer to the east. Omar (Riz Ahmed), a family man who enjoys the fruits of capitalism while railing against it and retelling his kid the story of The Lion King as a jihadi parable, is the only one of the group with a lick of sense. Though even he can get a rocket launcher backwards sometimes.

In preparation for some kind of terrorist action, Omar and Waj go to the Mid-East in hopes of training as mujahideen, only to be sent home early when they consistently screw up. Back in England, they find that Barry has recruited Hassan "The Mal" Malik (Arsher Ali), an aspiring Muslim rapper, who busts rhymes like, "We are the martyrs/ You're all squashed tomatoes!" (it sorta works when said with an English accent).

It isn't just Muslim fundamentalists who get mocked here; everyone is fair game, from thick-headed police snipers who argue about the difference between a Wookiee and a bear, to government employees and their elaborate, convoluted explanations of rendition. One could compare this to South Park, but at the risk of hyperbole, this may also be the war on terror's very own Dr. Strangelove. Also like Strangelove, it gets that reality is often so absurd, you don't have to exaggerate much for humorous effect and that man frequently laughs so as not to cry.

The 180—a Second Opinion: Working-class English accents with Pakistani inflection, combined with British, Arabic and Urdu slang, can make the dialogue difficult to understand at times (it helps, for example, to know that Honey Monster is an English cereal mascot not unlike Tony the Tiger). The inevitable DVD with subtitle options and commentary may be the better option for those who typically have trouble understanding, say, Mike Leigh movies.

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