Four Lions Puts the Fun Back in Terrorism

Categories: Film and TV
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Terrorists are people too. And they can be as idiotic as the rest of us, if not more so. In the film Four Lions, which opens at the Cosford Cinema on Friday, British humorist Chris Morris compiles a troupe of fictional wannabe jihadists a la Three Stooges and Marx Brothers. Basically, they are a bunch of hapless morons trying to stick it to us infidels. 

Morris based these zany terrorist plots on real events. "Yemeni jihadis wanted to ram a US warship with an exploding boat--they assembled at the quayside in the dead of night, filled the launch with explosives and it sank. Canadian jihadis planned to kill their prime minister but forgot who he was."

If this film had been released even a couple of years ago  in this country it might have been too soon, but Americans are now ready to laugh at terrorism. Call it our irrepressible optimism or our resolute resiliency, but we have faced the evil doers and continue to buy our tazo chai lattes and camp out on Black Friday.

Since its extremely limited release, the film has been consistently adding venues. Probably because everyone who watches it seems to laugh their little infidel ass off and critics are hailing it as the best satirical film since Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. Why Lake Worth got it before we did, we'll never know. Follow the jump for a few words with writer/director Chris Morris.

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New Times: What inspired the idea for Four Lions?

Chris Morris: Real life. Sounds odd doesn't it? I was reading into the background and history of modern jihadi movements and was struck by the way funny incidents formed part of the picture. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the 9/11 attacks, wasted two hours before a TV interview trying to find a costume that didn't make him look fat. A British jihadi wanted to hide his explosives underground but was so clueless he actually Googled "how to dig a hole".

Why do you think these type of incidents occur? I mean, aren't these guys supposed to be organized, and oh, I don't know, competent?

I'd unwittingly stumbled across what intelligence analysts describe in "the bunch of guys theory" that frames the way they think about home-grown jihadi cells of the sort that attacked London in July 2005. A jihadi cell behaves like any average bunch of guys--a stag weekend, a five-a-side football team--you ask them to organize something, chances are they'll mess it up. Seeing the people involved in such plots as a tight bunch whose life and actions are defined by the group, whose behavior is constantly shaped by small group dynamics, who are all too recognizably human, and who are possibly likable even if their actions are deplorable seemed to me to be both a revelation and a great source for comedy.

Here's the trailer:

Anything interesting happen while trying to secure funding or during production?

Having a conversation with a man who was hiding in a cupboard. He worked for a potential funding organization and wanted to stress to me that even though his board was worried about funding the film he definitely thought that they should. He wanted to offer his support and assure us he was going to fight our corner but he didn't want to be overheard and therefore it was best he made this call in a quiet voice from a stationary cupboard. He added that this wasn't the first time he'd made a call from such a place. We never heard from him again.

What do you hope that audiences take away from the film?

A belly full of laughs, a headful of thoughts, and an irrepressible desire to see it again immediately.

Four Lions premieres Friday at 9 p.m. at the Cosford Cinema (1111 Memorial Drive, Coral Gables).


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