Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bill Maher's Rant Against Religion

Fox News: Bill Maher's Anti-Religion Movie

......not that he has an alternative construct for societies to order themselves off of. But when did anyone expect valid alternatives from Abstract Theorists.

Indeed GOVERNMENT is Bill Maher's alternative to Religion.

“Religion is detrimental to the progress of society.” That’s my favorite quote from Bill Maher’s often brilliant, but often unfocused “documentary,” called “Religulous.” It opens in early October right after its debut at the Toronto Film Festival.

The articulate, quick-witted comedian sets out in this film — which was supposed to have been released last Easter — to prove that line is true. Directed by Larry Charles, the man who put "Borat" together so skillfully, "Religulous" is blatant about Maher’s feelings: religion is bad. All religions are bad. They are ruining everything.

If you go for that, then "Religulous" is for you. Unlike Michael Moore, whose controversial films at least allow stories to be told, Maher is not interested in other viewpoints. Rather, "Religulous" is a long Maher spiel that pauses only to underscore his own points.

At first the film is very funny as Maher gently mocks one organized religion after another. He questions just about everything in Catholicism, even though he was raised Catholic. (His mother is Jewish, but threw it all over for the father.) Everything from the Immaculate Conception to crucifixion re-enactments are covered. By the time “Religulous” is over, the faith-seekers in the audience will have scratched Catholic off their possibilities.

Not that the other major religious groups don’t come in for razzing, either. Maher is brutal to Orthodox Jews and just as nasty to Muslims. (He interviews gay Muslims in Amsterdam, a city where he also smokes a lot of pot and finds many easy laughs.) Mormons get it, and so do Scientologists, whom Maher mocks in London’s Hyde Park.

Maher sends up everything outrageous and unusual in religion, cherry-picking the fringe elements wherever he can find them. There’s no question that he’s serious in his endeavors, and for a while following him feels like it’s going to lead somewhere.

Alas, it doesn’t. Unlike "Borat," or even a Moore film, “Religulous” is a dead end. In the last quarter, the laughs peter out as we realize the exploration is pointless. The film concludes with a long, very not funny, tedious speech by Maher — in which he rails against religion — that should clear theaters before the credits start rolling.

Right now you can see a trailer for "Religulous" on LionsGate’s Web site. Interestingly, it’s linked another site called Obviously, a parody site designed just for the film, is registered to an unknown group in the Cayman Islands. It features the quotes of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, videos from the Church of Scientology Web site and a link to a Christian yoga video collection starring (whatever happened to) ‘Northern Exposure” star Janine Turner.

“Religulous” is a tough call. Will audiences flock to theatres to see it? That depends on just how many atheists there are at the popcorn stand. Maher’s point, that the world would be a better place without any religions, that wars would be eliminated and there would be universal understanding, comes across simultaneously as utopian and cynical.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Apparently you have seen the movie.

I am always puzzled when people of faith become disturbed about someone's challenges to faith. Particularlywhen they allow themselves to be disturbed by a comedian.

Maher is no different than anyone else who has challenged the basic tenets of religion.

Perhaps it would be wiser to view such people as a springboard to discussion, rather than as recruiting converts to an absolute position that many will espouse?