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The American senate, in order to improve it's fast declining global image, asks comedian Albert Brooks to write a 500 page document about what makes Muslims laugh in India and Pakistan. Bidding adieu to his wife and young daughter,and accompanied by two government bureaucrats, Albert opens up an office in New Delhi, hires a pretty Secretary, Maya, and goes around asking people at random as to what makes them laugh. He finds that people generally look at him suspiciously and refuse to answer any questions. He then decides to go public and stage a comedy show, the suggested place for the publicity is old Delhi. Accordingly the four re-locate, book a school auditorium to seat about 400 people, go around the city distributing leaflets, inviting the general public to attend the show. They get a houseful response, however, Albert's comedy act fails to impress. He then decides to try his hand in Pakistan, only to be told that he cannot get a visa for another 14 days. He decides to enter ... Written by
Sony Pictures Classics was originally going to distribute the film in the USA but chose not to, citing controversy over the film's title, which they wanted to change. Warner Independent Pictures then picked up the film for US distribution. See more »
Indian General is wearing Pakistani uniform. See more »
Man in Temple:
[giving example of what makes him laugh]
Okay. Laughter is a very serious business, I suppose. Ah, we put it this way. When suppose this gentleman... he is my friend. He takes me for a ride. He takes undue advantage... of my innocence, you can say. I am an emotional fool. He is trying to make me fool, but, I am not - a fool. I allow *him* to make me a fool. You know? Just be ignorant. I just trying to... pretend that okay: I know nothing about him. I know, ah, nothing about the, you know, game ...
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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 the 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!
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