A wordplay on ridiculous, Bill Maher's new docu-comedy Religulous found its calling this weekend when it opened across the country. It grossed a modest $3.5 million and ranked number 10 at the box office, but I suspect many people will have an opinion regardless of whether they see it.
Directed by Larry Charles of Borat and Curb Your Enthusiasm, Religulous will remind you of everyone's favorite Kazakhstani roaming around America, exposing isms and making enemies. It adopts the same wanderlust quality and lets Maher loose in the US, Europe, and Middle East to humiliate unsuspecting people.
I decided to check out the movie this weekend so I could report back to you today. To find out what I thought,
I keep hearing that Maher can't expect to appeal to religious people by belittling them, but I don't think that's his goal. He's not talking to them. He's talking to the 16 percent of Americans that consider themselves nonreligious — challenging them to talk openly about doubt.
In the doc, Maher interviews Christians, Jews, and Muslims, most of whom are easy targets for comedy. Here are a few that stood out.
- Senator Mark Pryor (AK-D): This senator may never live down saying, "You don't need to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate." Guess not!
- José Luis de Jesús Miranda (Messiah in Miami): José believes Jesus's lineage moved through Europe until it reached Spain and then made the voyage to Puerto Rico, where he was born. People should follow him over Jesus, he says, because Jesus was Jewish and he is Christian.
- Roman Catholic Priest (Vatican): I could have watched this man for the whole movie. He laughs. And laughs. And genuinely seems amused by illogical teachings and contradictions in the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, Maher does not dig enough to learn how he rationalizes the two. The priest does leave us these words: People are going to believe what they want, and then they'll die. Amen.
I wish we heard more from the skeptical devout like the Vatican priest. In fact, I had hoped Maher would interview Stephen Colbert (real-life Stephen, though fake would do). Colbert's a practicing Catholic (he even teaches Sunday School) who would appreciate the irreverent humor and, unlike most of Maher's victims, be savvy enough to keep up. But when it was over, I was really only fixated on one fact. Did you know there's a theme park in Orlando called The Holy Land? There you can experience the "wonder of ancient Israel."
Did anyone else see it? Who's going? Who would you like to see Bill Maher interview?
Photos courtesy of Lionsgate