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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 »
The Indian flag shown in the Indian government office is upside down. The correct order of the flag is saffron at the top and green at the bottom. See more »
Albert Brooks is sent by the US government to India on a mission to find out what makes muslims laugh. Why India? Yes there's a lot of muslims there but most of the people Brooks meet seems to be Hindus. No matter what they are they don't think he's funny. And he isn't. Not in this movie.
Initially, most of the jokes are based on how badly planned his trip was. He gets to fly business class instead of first class. Nobody comes to pick him up at the airport so he has to take a cab. His office is small and has no computer, etc. Funny? After that, there is a slightly amusing scene where he has a conversation with his secretary, Maya, and they don't know when the other is joking or not. "Was that a joke?". According to his plans, he was supposed to go to Pakistan, but he doesn't get a visa, so he has to cross the border illegally in order to spend a couple of hours there with some would be comedians. This makes Indian and Pakistani intelligence agents suspicious, and there's almost a political conflict. Brooks realises he has failed and goes is sent back to the US. The End. His wife, unaware of his failure, thinks he's a big hero. The political subplot about the conflict Brooks almost caused, is tied up by means of on-screen text before the closing credits. The main plot also goes nowhere. I'm not sure what Brooks tried to do with this movie. It's not laugh-out-loud funny, and it doesn't work as a dark comedy nor as a satire. Unfortunately, with this movie, real-life Brooks ends up like on-screen Brooks: trying, but failing, to be funny. "Is that the joke?". I'll never know.
So what we have here is a movie with no real laughs and a premise that could be funny, but goes nowhere. Too bad, really, because I expected this movie to be much better. Not recommended to waste money on.
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