Archive for Bill Maher

Our Maher Who Art in Heaven…. Religulous (dir Larry Charles)

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , on April 5, 2009 by cultfriction

Award-winning Maher reflects on his own religious upbringing and travels to Jerusalem, Egypt, London, Amsterdam, The Vatican and across the United States exploring the role of religion in today’s society. Along the way he talks to believers, non-believers, religious leaders, self professed messiahs, atheists, extremists, politicians, agnostics, academics and the average man on the street looking to lift the lid on their beliefs.

This is ultimately a film about doubt! Yes my friends Bill Maher has taken it to the mountain top and shouted it loud.When released in America in the fall of 2008 it was amid the Presidential election and the appointment of one Sarah Palin as Republican VP Candidate. With the benefit of hindsight we can relax (we hope) with the election of Barack Obama but a mere few months ago there existed a very real possibility that someone such as Palin was about to be a mere heartbeat away from the highest office in the land. “What scares me is that people who run this country believe in talking snakes!,” Maher exclaims at US Senator Mark Pryor. ” You don’t have to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate.”

Religulous takes apart the Jesus franchise (amongst others) and holds it up to the light for what it really is. Although the film takes shots at Judaism and Islam it leaves out others such as Hinduism, Buddhism. Maher explains why he thought Religion was a subject he had tackle. “Since starting on Politically Incorrect in 1993, it has been my pleasure over the last decade and a half to make organised religion one of my favourite targets.  I often explained to people, “I don’t need to make fun of religion, it makes fun of itself.”  And, then I go ahead and make fun of it too, just for laughs. “

With religious fanatics like George Bush and Osama bin Laden now taking over the world, it seemed to me in recent years that this issue — this cause of debunking the man behind the curtain — needed to have a larger, more insistent and focused forum than late night television.  I wanted to make a documentary, and I wanted it to be funny.  In fact, since there is nothing more ridiculous than the ancient mythological stories that live on as today’s religions, this movie would try to be a real knee slapper.  Unless, of course, you’re religious, then you might not like it.” 

Who could I get to direct me on such an epic quest?  In reality, there was only one man, and his name is Larry Charles.  I hope that together we fulfilled that quest.  Which really isn’t that hard, considering that comedically speaking, the topic of religion is pretty much hitting the side of a barn.”   

Towards the end Mahers message gets a little preachy as he turns from doubter to die hard atheist however it highlights for him the evils of religion. There are moments where Maher sees the good in faih yet these are few and far between. The film is cleverly edited for real laugh out loud moments that highlight the absurdities of religion. 

Overall this is a very funny film with very little flaws. So to wrap up here are my top five moments in the movie (Warning Spoilers Ahead)

5) Upon realising who he is, staff members of the Holy Land Exprerience (a Jesus Theme Park in Orlando Florida) get very angry! 

4) The Iman who has Led Zeppelins Kashmir as his ringtone which interrupts the interview.

3) Maher’s innuendo laden exchanges with Pastor John Westcott, a formerly gay minister who can exorcise homosexuality.

2) Ferre van Beveren, head of the Cannabis Ministry, (a religion devoted to getting high) is so wasted he doesn’t realise his hair is on fire.

1) A disguised Maher in speakers corner preaching the beliefs of Scientology.

 Religulous opens nationwide April 3rd 2009.