Wednesday, August 30, 2006

LOOKING FOR COMEDY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim WorldAlbert Brooks Directed by Albert Brooks
Starring Albert Brooks
Reviewed by Byron Merritt


SURPRISING THUMBS UP!

A SURPRISING THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING!

LOOKING FOR COMEDY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD is a thinking man’s comedy. If you’re of the 40-YEAR-OLD VIRGIN or DATE MOVIE crowd, please avoid this film and spare us your "It just ...sucks" review.

If you’re an Albert Brooks fan, you most certainly will enjoy his deadpan delivery and hyper-worried state that we came to enjoy during DEFENDING YOUR LIFE (I suspect this is why he was also cast as the father’s voice in FINDING NEMO). But enough about Brooks. Let’s see what this movie’s about.

Looking For Comedy opens with Brooks arriving for a casting call at Penny Marshall’s office (It’s noteworthy to mention that Albert Brooks plays Albert Brooks and Penny Marshall plays Penny Marshall). Everyone seems to only recognize Brooks as "that guy who played that fish in Finding Nemo." His career is grudgingly winding down.

But upon returning home a letter from the government appears in the mail. He is summoned to Washington by a panel of Senators to do a research project for them ("Our first choice, quite frankly, wasn’t available" they tell him when Brooks asks ‘Why me?’) And his job? Travel to India and Pakistan and find out what makes Muslims laugh. Oh. "And you have to write a 500-page report on it."

"500 pages? I don’t think I’ve ever written anything that long," Brooks protests. But he accepts the assignment and travels with two government men as his entourage and support crew. Once in India they bumble through getting an office and a secretary named Maya (the stunningly pretty
Sheetal Sheth). Now the hard work begins. Either people won’t talk to him or give him off the wall answers or give no answer at all. So Brooks decides to put on a comedy show at a local gymnasium only to have that fall flat, too.

To add insult to injury, war bells are ringing between Pakistan and India, bells that Brooks doesn’t help with by sneaking across the border into Pakistan one night in order to meet up with some future comedian hopefuls.

The thing that makes this film so funny is that it doesn’t try that hard. It just is. Brooks’ normal paranoia fits perfectly with the script and makes us laugh time and again at his overzealous fears. Also is the fact that it shows the complete ineptness of government in trying to understand another culture by sending someone to another country who has no knowledge of such a job. And they send him to India! Although there are a lot of Muslims there, it is mainly a Hindu country. An Arab nation may have been a better choice but obviously the government
higher-ups failed to do their own research before sending in an even-less-informed Brooks. Now THAT is subtle humor. If you "don’t get that", you should avoid seeing this flick. But if you enjoy that kind of subtlety, give Looking For Comedy a try. It’s a modern day and cerebral blast!

Click here for the Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World movie trailer!

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