February 17, 2010

Rabid Rewind: Religulous

Title: Religulous
Starring: Bill Maher
Directed by: Larry Charles
Released: 2008

Dissidence doesn't jive when it comes to questioning the existence of a god. Doesn't matter which one, take your pick. But you gotta pick one, because if you don't believe in at least one, you're an infidel among the masses.

I like Bill Maher. Back when I was in college, the closest I came to being politically literate was watching episodes of Politically Incorrect. The guy had a great way of moderating a panel populated with both the reasoners and the raving lunatics. I've only had a couple of opportunities to see his HBO show, so it's a rare treat to see him at his most caustic and cogent.

Religulous is presented as a documentary with a flare for blending the pious with the punchline. Bill's an atheist--dirty word for the god fearing folk--and he travels a great portion of the globe asking questions about religion, gods, and faith. Where Sasha Barron Cohen had to dress up as a Euro trash homosexual to get a rise out of the religious right, all Bill Maher had to do was show up.

A lot of the humor in this DVD comes from what makes a lot of other things in life so damned funny, the blissfully ignorant and their illiteracy towards the ironic. Circular arguments abound, though there are a couple of instances where Bill is genuinely stumped by something poetic that's been put to him. And kudos to director, Larry Charles, for leaving those bits in, because they really help round out the whole performance.

Watching it once is good, but watching it again with the commentary of Bill Maher and Larry Charles is another fun experience. They don't talk about nuances of particular moments or arduous dilemmas they encounter during the film's production, but they do shoot the shit with a real sense of humor and definitely don't take themselves too seriously.

If you think the universe is only a few thousand years old, or you think Israel has no right to exist, chances are this film isn't for you. I don't think it's stopped you from pissing and moaning about it, though. No, this movie is for people who aren't afraid to laugh with and at religion.

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