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Overall Rating

Awesome: 13.95%
Worth A Look44.19%
Average: 20.93%
Pretty Bad: 20.93%
Total Crap: 0%

6 reviews, 7 user ratings

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Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World
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by brianorndorf

"Light Brooks, but still hilarious"
4 stars

A labored story doesn’t sour the fun to be had in Albert Brooks’s “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World.” For fans of the comedian, this is pure ego and unease, which is what Brooks was put on this planet to do. Maybe not his strongest work, but a nice return to form.

Struggling to find acting work, Albert Brooks is summoned to Washington to take a secret meeting. There he’s handed an opportunity to travel to India and Pakistan to figure out what makes Muslims laugh, and to follow it up with a 500 page report. Unsure, but up for adventure, Brooks takes the job, and armed with two government agents (Jon Tenney and John Carroll Lynch) and a local assistant (a movie-stealing Sheetal Sheth), he sets off to see what tickles people in a section of the world not known for its sense of humor.

When we last heard from Albert Brooks in a writing/directing capacity, it was the 1999 misfire, “The Muse.” Now back to direct another film, Brooks has selected a topic for a comedy that is both daring and frightening in the same breath. “Muslim World” is not as heavy as it looks, and not as uproarious as it sounds. The film is Brooks massaging out a comedy knot, which results in probably the least urgent film he’s ever made. But it’s still Albert Brooks, and he can always get a strong laugh out of almost nothing.

“Muslim World” is a shapeless creation, mostly arranged as a fish-out-of-water journey where Brooks can wander through Indian streets and play off the locals for simple laughs. Typically self-involved, Brooks is basically conveying where his career is at these days, ingeniously incorporating both his own ego and the slowly escalating adventure of his “character.” There are hilarious digs at his own career (where “Finding Nemo” is his best known film), and plenty of time for the Brooks specialty: sarcastic complaints. Faced with a government that doesn’t comprehend any his needs and a country that couldn’t care less about his comedy, Brooks takes it all with typical hang-dog grace, always waiting for the best punch line, or, at the very least, the best reaction.

The film doesn’t really find a plot until halfway in, where we see governments from both Pakistan and India start to worry why an American comic is snooping around their countries asking odd questions. This material is introduced too late in the game to matter much, and, as seen by the abrupt ending, Brooks hasn’t a clue how to pay it off. He’s better with comfortable, story-free moments, such as one where he presents a stand-up show in India to a crowd that finds nothing he does even remotely funny.

There, up on the stage and under the hot lights, Brooks does what he was born to do: squirm. There’s just nothing more funny than that.

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originally posted: 01/20/06 15:34:08
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User Comments

5/03/07 David Pollastrini Boooooring! 2 stars
9/09/06 Phil M. Aficionado It just plain doesn't do anything except have an intriguing title; flat, shallow, boring 2 stars
3/28/06 Joe Schiappa okay 3 stars
3/28/06 Danny Johanson Good, but it can get really boring really fast 3 stars
1/25/06 Styopa Tendentious, predictable, patronizing (of the audience). Really straining to be amusing. 2 stars
1/24/06 Ole Man Bourbon A total failure, but a fun one. I guess quality talent goes a long way. AB fans only. 3 stars
1/21/06 Jim The Movie Freak Brooks can do no wrong although there is a slow patch here and there 4 stars
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  20-Jan-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 29-Aug-2006



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