Dark subtitled comedy on would-be terrorists has violence.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Bomb Scared (aka Fe de Etarras) is a 2017 Spanish dark comedy about an incompetent group of Basque terrorists awaiting their next orders. The movie is in Spanish with English subtitles. The context for the story -- the conflicts between Basque separatist organization ETA and the Spanish government -- might be lost on many viewers outside of Spain, and what's provided through the dialogue might not be enough. There's some gun violence, including a death by shooting. Some of the dark comedy is rooted in dialogue, such as the main characters debating the place ETA holds in the world among other terrorist organizations such as al-Qaida and the IRA. The show features regular profanity, including "f--k," as well as wine and beer drinking. One of the male characters talks of how women in the ETA get him sexually aroused. Best for older teens and parents willing to do a little bit of research into the Basque conflict.
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What's the Story?
Martín (Javier Cámara) is a Basque terrorist who has returned from Venezuela many years after narrowly escaping arrest by running out through a window and leaving his comrades to face arrest and imprisonment. Martín assembles a ragtag crew of would-be terrorists -- the lovers who aren't lovers, Ainara and Alex, and the gung-ho and not-bright Pernando -- to remain in a safe apartment and await orders from above as to when and how to plot an attack. They live in an apartment complex surrounded by unusual neighbors; their deceptions to these neighbors only result in them having absurd obligations such as renovation work for a kindly older woman or pretending to cheer on Spain with their xenophobic downstairs neighbor. Against this backdrop, Spain surprisingly advances to the World Cup finals. As the days pass and there's still no word from their contact, Martín tries to figure out the next step, and must find a way to give Pernando (who wants to be given the code name "Stallone") a mission he'll be proud of, and prevent Ainara and Alex from fleeing to Uruguay.
Is It Any Good?
The problem with dark comedy is that if it fails, it comes off as smug, tasteless, callous, or much worse. There are moments of BOMB SCARED that do work, but when it doesn't, it's easy to question if now (or ever) is the best time to be trying to make light of terrorism. The insistence of one of the would-be terrorists that he be referred to as "Stallone" when the news inevitably reports on their actions works, and the heated debate about where their terrorist group (ETA) ranks among all the other terrorist organizations around the globe is the height of absurdity. The image of members of a terrorist group at war with the Spanish government wearing Spain-themed swag in order to maintain their cover during the World Cup is ridiculously ironic. But other times, it's all too much or too little and instead of laughs, you're left reflecting on the sad state of affairs here, there, and everywhere.
Furthermore, even with Catalonia making headlines, it's difficult to find the context to this movie, and thus, a big source of the humor. Without much knowledge of the Basque separatist movement, it's not easy to gain a foothold into the story, or to understand what is at stake for those involved. Even with the accessible-enough stylings of deliberately banal dialogue about food right before something big happens, or the slow-motion walks of the characters with some popular song accompanying the walk, this movie is best for those with a real grasp on recent Spanish history.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about dark comedies. How do dark comedies attempt to mine humor from difficult subjects? How is dark humor employed in this movie?
In terms of style and dialogue, how does this movie seem similar to, say, the early movies of Quentin Tarantino?
Does a comedy in which would-be terrorists are portrayed as bumbling and foolish satirize those willing to engage in violence and the deaths of innocent people in order to achieve their aims, or does it come across as making light of terrible tragedies that people all over the world have had to contend with?
- On DVD or streaming: October 20, 2017
- Cast: Javier Camara, Julian Lopez, Miren Ibarguren
- Director: Borja Cobeaga
- Studio: Netflix
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 89 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: February 18, 2023
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