Some of us put a lot of stock in a script that tickles the ears with its witty banter, putdowns, twisted jargon and the like.
By that measure, “The Day Shall Come” is the funniest film in months and months. It’s a dark satire about a comic “black jihadist” in South Florida, building his religion/cult around a peaceful upending of the status quo.
And Moses (screen newcomer Marchánt Davis, a stitch) gets off the first of a flood of funny lines when he interrupts some frat bros’ spring break drug deal.
“May you live to see the end of the accidental dominance of the white race!”
“May Black Santa prevail!” he’s prone to declaring, either to his “flock” as they brown-face yard-santas, or to the fake Middle Eastern sheikh he’s been conned into meeting to “finance my (urban) farm revolution.”
“Yes,” the Syrian (Pej Vahdat) blackmailed into helping the FBI purrs. “And hail Black Caesar, Black Snow White and Black T-Rex!”
Venus (Danielle Brooks), Moses’ wife, is always pushing the “Star of Six” (they use the Star of David as their religion’s symbol) Farm’s produce on sympathizers.
“You want eggs? Eggs that taste like eggs before science fiction?”
The local FBI boss (Denis O’Hare) has all manner of creative epithets for the growling cluster-cluck that this “case” is turning into.
“Nails of CHRIST, people!”
I mean, think of the stakes involved here — terrorism, “radioactive” or otherwise. “Next thing you know, the Statue of Liberty will be wearing a burka and we’ve beheaded Bruce Springsteen.”
At least everybody’s given his crack agent (Anna Kendrick) the perfect Anna Kendrick nickname — “Agent Chipmunk!”
The plot, “based on a hundred true stories” is about a sting that goes wrong and the backup sting the FBI (Agent Chipmunk) comes up with to CYA. This Miami Beach fixture who talks a big game about black nationalism, Jesus, Mohammed and “General Toussaint,” could be just the ticket.
Moses is noisy but non-violent, and desperate for money to keep his flock together. They’ve been given their eviction notice, although the landlord hints that they could barter something to get a break on the rent. Something…radioactive?
There are all these Middle Eastern emigrees that the Feds have something on, forced to be informants, and there’s a turf war-pissing match that involves the FBI, the local police, and the Federal prosecutor (Michael Braun) who is cynical about the process, and contemptuous of the FBI’s blundering efforts, taunting Andy (O’Hare) that he should try to “retire on a better case.”
“Hey, Mexican Hezbollah IS planning an attack on Orlando!”
And in the middle of it all, ensnared but with “the threat signature of a hot dog,” is Moses, who is dying to tell one and all about “the day God talked to me through a duck.”
Random moments, like Moses making somebody who is trying to set him up do calisthenics as he interrogates him, are laugh-out-loud funny.
There isn’t a bad performance in the lot, with Kendrick adding a dash of menace to her stacatto come-backs and put downs. Yeah, pal, you’re looking at “twenty years in a penitentiary that uses your screams to power the lights.”
Davis flirts with dazzling, at times, all dolled up in a tri-cornered hat, a shower curtain for a cape and a horse to ride into negotiations with. It’s a delightful performance as a deranged character, somebody who has let the proliferation of construction cranes in Miami drive him nuts.
The third act is entirely too pat to leave one with the same taste in the mouth that the first two promise. But director and co-writer Christopher Morris (the Brit who did the jihadi joke fest “Four Lions”) and his players hit more than they miss.
Especially when it comes to the banter, right up to the moment when Moses has a meeting with “Honky Hitler” (Jim Gaffigan), a guy who’s “a racist, but one of the GOOD ones.”
Agent Chipmonk couldn’t have put it better.
MPAA Rating: unrated, with some violence, lots of profanity
Cast: Marchánt Davis, Danielle Brooks, Anna Kendrick,Denis O’Hare, Kayvan Novak, Pej Vahdat and Jim Gaffigan
Credits: Directed by Christopher Morris, script by Jesse Armstrong, Sean Gray, Tony Roche and Christopher Morris. An IFC release.
Running time: 1:28