January 14, 2011 at 1:00 am

Tom Long Film Review: 'Four Lions' -- GRADE: B

Brit satire pokes fun at terrorists in 'Four Lions'

What if the Three Stooges were reborn as fanatical Muslim terrorists?

The result would probably look a whole lot like "Four Lions," the hilarious, biting British comedy that's far more about human folly than religion. The first feature, written and directed by satirist Chris Morris, may seem profane to some, but if you're doomed by watching it, at least you'll go down laughing.

In this case, it's more like four or five stooges, these being self-proclaimed jihadists in Sheffield, England, set on destroying, well, something.

Two of the group — Omar (Riz Ahmed) and Waj (Kayvan Novak) — go off for disastrous training at a camp in Pakistan while the others stay home and try to concoct new ways of causing mayhem, most notably by strapping bombs on crows.

In the end, the group opts for suicide bombs and heads for the center of London. Their aim is less than true. In fact, the whole thing ends up a deliciously scattershot, crisscrossing mess.

Morris isn't making fun of Islam, really, he's making fun of fanatics of all stripes. From their witless pomposity to paper-thin politics and sad-sack motives, these guys are everybody's fools.

Terrorism may not seem the most obvious subject for slapstick humor, but religious self-righteousness has long been a target of British comics (See: Monty Python and Christianity).

"Four Lions" is about a group of idiots trying to do something stupid — and that's about as basic as humor gets. The result is funny stuff tinged with just enough topicality to sting a bit.

'Four Lions'


Rated R: For language throughout, including some sexual references

Running time: 97 minutes

Playing at Detroit's Burton Theatre