Friday, May 13, 2011

Religulous - 2008

"Religulous" - 2008
Dir. by Larry Charles - 1 hr. 41 min.

Official Trailer

"Religulous" is a very funny movie. It's also a difficult one to like, unless you're really comfortable taking a hard-line stand on a touchy subject (which I admittedly am). To sum it up, Bill Maher and Larry Charles head out into the wild with cameras and interview people about their religious beliefs. You know how this is going to end up. A lot of people will object to his choice of interviewees, but I think that if you're going to claim to believe in something, then you should also have a decent grasp of what you're claiming belief in. If you're claiming knowledge you don't actually have, I don't have a lot of sympathy for what results.

This movie is pretty much guaranteed to offend. Also, Bill Maher is an asshole. I'm not trying to defend or condemn him; he's a quick-witted, intelligent man who's not afraid to contradict people when he feels they're being stupid or dishonest, and especially when matched with people who aren't up to the intellectual challenge, that comes off as being mean. But you knew that if you've ever watched his shows. Also, it's not a "fair and balanced" "documentary." Most people aren't ambivalent on the topic of religion, so expecting any different from this movie is unrealistic (and kind of stupid - it's not an unfair film just because it disagrees with a lot of people. It's unfair because Maher has the final word in the editing room). Where the movie is fair is that it tackles more than just Christianity (Islam and Judaism also get a significant chunk of attention, Mormonism and Scientology less so), so your sacred cow is not being singled out for attack.

As funny as the movie is (and if, knowing the subject matter going in, think you can get through it without needing to storm out of the theatre), and it certainly was that, it would have been nice to see at least a couple of interviewees who could hang with Maher. There must be one or two out there who can argue beyond "you can't disagree with faith" with wit and intelligence. There's probably a lot of reasons why that didn't happen, but it did undercut his points to a degree. If you're going to make as bold of a statement as "Religulous" does, then you need to confront and overcome the most persuasive arguments counter to your own position.

Anyhow, depending on your own tendencies to hysteria and ability to process opinions diametrically opposed to your own, I'd completely recommend folks check this one out.

4 / 5 - Theatre

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