Saturday, March 7, 2009


Any sort of media is a hard sell or even subject to persecution if it dares to criticize a religion. In "Religulous," Bill Maher and Larry Charles actually dare to go that far, taking an atheistic view and a few index cards full of provocative questions to many different religious. The film is extremely divisive. Religion is the most touchy subject out there, and a movie attacking it in any way won't strike a unanimous chord ever. Maher thinks that the whole business of faith is total B.S., and he tries to find the most ridiculous people out there to lampoon. He's a modern reincarnation of George Carlin, expressing his controversial views where most would shy away. Every person that Maher interviews in the film is utterly pious, and I believe he really pisses most of them off. He does some pretty outrageous shit in the film. He gets himself kicked out of the Vatican, for one, and goes one-on-one with a somewhat "maverick" priest. "Religulous" strikes me as a version of Sacha Baron Cohen's collaboration with Charles, "Borat." The only thing is, one was critically lauded and the other gets very little attention. The reason is that Maher's film puts people more at unease than Cohen's. It's trying to make much more of a statement. Towards the end, Maher preaches about how religion will end up destroying the world. I think the film works better as a smaller, more interrogational piece where Maher lights some people's fuses and tries to uncover the far-fetchedness behind all of this religion. He plays dirty, in almost all cases. The editing of satirical footage is somewhat pushing the limits of courtesy. But, really, how is a film criticizing religion full of courtesy? It's a brave thing for Charles and his comedian buddy to make such a film, however unilateral, that so examines religion. B+

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