Thursday, October 2, 2008

Does Jesus Laugh at REALLY Funny Jokes?




Since Bill Maher's
Religulous opens in wide this weekend and Big Mike has already seen it weeks ago, he has held off on writing a review while referring to himself in the third person. And let me tell you, this is a movie that every person should see, regardless of race, color or creed.


Bill Maher of
Real Time and Politically Incorrect fame explores the concept of religion in almost every facet that he is granted too. Not only does he interview people from all faiths, but makes visits to the Vatican, Salt Lake City, Jerusalem and even takes his cameras inside the Kabba in Mecca. There are also trips to Amsterdam, Bible Land in Florida and a trailer church in the Carolinas. Being raised half Jewish, half Catholic to become a devout atheist, Bill questions people, not their faith. He goes out of his way to create an open dialouge in order to find out why normal, intelligent people behave in such an erratic fashion because of their religion. Bill likes to point out the wars, violence, bigotry and prejudice that is carried out by religious folk and believes that America's deep sense of organized religion is partially to blame for most of our problem's today, not least of which is a two term President who believed that God wanted him to run for office.



But at every turn, be it Christian, Muslim or Jewish, Bill is rebuffed and called ignorant, a non-believer and worse. He is warned that he will burn in hell, be left outside the gates of heaven for eternity or be subject to physical violence in this plane of existence. Bill remains underterred in his beliefs that the world would be a lot better of with LESS religion. While films like Borat or movies from Michael Moore like to shock their subjects, Bill prefers a more subdued approach and as a comic first, is never above making the easy joke. And, that is what's fascinating about this movie. Instead of making people squirm or laugh at easy gay stereotypes or shaking heads at CEOs caught up in lies and fiscal crises, Maher dares to challenge people on what they hold most sacred in their lives. When the movies begin its inevitable conclusion towards the end, literally and figuratively, Bill holds off on ending with a big laugh delivering a knock out punch meant to keep audiences talking after they leave the theatre. And that is one of the best things that a film can aspire to do.

6 comments:

Fletch said...

I loved it, and I'm glad you liked it, but I don't know if I agree that all people should see it. As thrilled as I am that a film with an angle such as this exists and is being shown in major theaters in the first place, Bill and his film might be just a bit too one-sided for most people to stomach. I'd like to think that it's not that way, but I'm afraid I don't. Most will end up hating him (ironically proving his point and negating the teachings of their respective religions along the way). I wonder who gets the last laugh then?

Then again - regardless of faith, the funny crosses all lines, and it's got that in spades.

blake said...

I think Maher is hilarious, but this seems like a far cry from a documentary. He didn't search out 'normal, intelligent people.' For the most part, he verbally jousts with evangelical charlatans and redneck whack jobs. He visits a Holy Land theme park and a creationist museum--not places where the average church-goer hangs out.

Maher doesn't risk questioning a learned theologian or even a devout Christian or Jew who reads the holy scriptures as a spiritual guide without accepting as literal truth stories written by men 2,000 years ago.

I found the film hilarious, and I'm certainly not a prude, or a Jesus-freak, but I would have appreciate a little real work on Maher's part, not just going after religious zealots with mullets to make people laugh.

The Mad Hatter said...

REALLY looking forward to seeing this one.

Maher and Larry Charles premiered 20 minutes of it along with a lengthy conversation at the 2007 Toronto Film fest, and the event was one of the funniest and most insightful things I've ever seen.

The Mad Hatter said...

REALLY looking forward to seeing this one.

Maher and Larry Charles premiered 20 minutes of it along with a lengthy conversation at the 2007 Toronto Film fest, and the event was one of the funniest and most insightful things I've ever seen.

Big Mike Mendez said...

Fletch - I liked your review too. But, I like Bill, am of the belief that if you can stomach being preached to by the government and the media day in and day out, you take him preaching the other way for ninety minutes. Did you catch him on the Daily Show?

Blake - I agree that he went to the extremes in choosing interview subjects, but that is who he is concerned about. Not the people who take faith as part of their daily life, but those that are controlled by it, fanatically. He does talk to scholars and religious leaders, but doesn't his family provide a voice to 'normal' church-goers?

CNaomiMooreGo said...

What would Jesus watch?