October 3, 2008

Maher is Smug in ‘Religulous’

By Jeff Vice Deseret News

RELIGULOUS -- ** -- Documentary feature examining religious beliefs; narrated by and starring Bill Maher; rated R (violence, profanity, vulgarity, drugs, slurs, brief sex, brief nudity)

"Religulous" is an effort by comedian/pundit Bill Maher and "Borat" filmmaker Larry Charles to disprove most of the ideas and concepts behind organized religion.

Instead, it only proves one thing: that Michael Moore is no longer the least subtle documentarian working in film today.

The film is basically 100-plus minutes of Maher making fun of others for their beliefs, including members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, he does nothing to prove his own points and contentions.

And yes, the whole thing is every bit as tiresome as it sounds.

Maher, the product of Jewish and Catholic parents, purports to be examining organized religion from the perspective of "I'm skeptical, please convince me."

So in the Deep South he goes to a trucker chapel and looks at televangelism as well as an amusement park that features "attractions" and shows based on the crucifixion and other biblical history.

In Amsterdam, he participates in unique "services" for a radical church that's based on marijuana smoking and looks at recent unrest in the Netherlands that's been linked to an influx of Muslims.

He treats almost all of this with his trademark brand of smug condescension and dismisses most of the opposing commentary with snarky one-liners. And he's clearly not interested in presenting a balanced report. Only the most ridiculous and unreasonable interview subjects are shown.

Also, most of Maher and Charles' efforts go toward attacking Christianity. What, were most of the Eastern religions considered off-limits?

(By the way, for good measure, they also bash Scientologists and LDS Church members. Not because there's a point to that. Simply because they can do it.)

"Religulous" is rated R for some disturbing violent imagery (war footage and crucifixion re-creations); strong sexual language (profanity, slang and other suggestive talk); drug content and references (marijuana and other hallucinogens); derogatory language, including slurs based on sexual preference; brief sexual contact (clips from so-called "adult films"); and brief male and female nudity. Running time: 101 minutes.

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