Sunday, March 15, 2009
Religulous is boring, confused, confusing, and not especially funny. It is kind of a mess of a movie.
Better than the movie are the outtakes (interviews with particular religious figures) and the monologs on the DVD. They are more focused, more consistent and more interesting.
Had that been the movie (just the interviews & the monologs), instead of the movie on the screen, of course the critics would have said: This is just a bunch of interviews and commentaries, not a real movie. But it still would have been better than the movie itself.
The first problem is that Bill Maher does not have a consistent set of religious beliefs, so he is confused.
Second, the movie features only certain religious figures, and seems haphazard in its choices.
Third, the movie concentrates mainly on just two aspects of religion -- on literal readings of portions of the Bible and on religious wars -- while omitting all the other facets of religion. Nor does the movie relate these aspects of religion to each other or to religion as a whole.
Fourth, the interviews in the movie are badly conducted, and Maher is not good either at provoking or inspiring the subject to say interesting things. He seems vaguely uncomfortable at almost all the places he goes.
Fifth, he is not very funny. Neither the interviews, nor his remarks during the interviews, nor his comments after are incisive, interesting or funny.
And it's poorly edited, and it's repetitive... we get the point in the first ten minutes and nothing much is added by the rest.
On the commentary track that overlays the movie (the "Special Features" menu), Maher does not seem like he takes the whole thing very seriously (or very humorously). I gave up after a while.
Religion is a very important force in the world of humans: what's good, bad, dangerous, hopeful, essential... and hilarious about religion deserves a better movie than this.
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