Sunday, September 03, 2006

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World: Grade B


Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

Albert Brooks: writer, director, star

This movie starts out hilariously, with AB as an out of work, second-tier American comic who is hired by the US Government to go to India and Pakistan and find out what makes Muslims laugh. The humor is extremely subtle at points, sarcastic, ironic, and with some wonderful digs at politics and Hollywood. At about the halfway mark, when he gives his first stand-up performance in India, his show bombs, and the movie starts going south. The jokes in his act are so stupid and inappropriate that even a nine-year old could do better. Why does Brooks take the movie in that direction? Was he afraid to not offend Middle-easterners by showing they do not appreciate American humor? Or was he afraid not to offend Americans by presenting a kind of humor they couldn’t understand? The solution he chooses, to make fun of himself and drop the movie’s story line altogether, is veryunsatisfying.

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