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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 »
As stated by Sen. Thompson at the meeting where the trip is planned, there are 150 million Muslims in India. But when Brooks and his helpers take to the streets inviting people to the comedy show, they hand out flyers at random. Since India is predominantly Hindu, most of the audience is going to be Hindu, not Muslim, contrary to the premise and the title. 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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A previous reviewer implied that this film was a "thinking man's comedy," but I fail to see where the thought provocation is in this one. I've always considered Al Brooks to be a hit or miss comedian. His Woody Allen-esquire neurosis and laid back delivery work great in some movies but fail miserably in others. Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World unfortunately fails to hit the target and is ranked among Brooks' great misses.
The plot is original (which, in itself deserves merit these days), basically showing Brooks playing himself and recruited by the US government to travel to India to write a report on what Muslims find funny. Assigned to a small office next to an Indian telemarketing/help desk boiler room, he ventures out repeatedly to interview pedestrians and promote a comedy show which he and an assistant hope will generate material for his report.
The film is segmented into a few phases which all sort of fall short of funny. The set-up led me to believe that a very funny movie were in store, but as the story continued and the characters arrived in India, the movie began to drag. A few chuckles could be had by the observant viewer but I wouldn't expect any gut-busters. The humor kind of borders observational and situational, but mostly I found the jokes to be tired and forced, e.g. Brooks struggling through the language barrier while interviewing ethnic Indians and Muslims to be his assistant.
As the story progresses to his presence in India and surreptitious venture into Pakistan being confused as espionage, the laughs come to a halt and one feels that an over-arching cultural message may be presented. It never does, and the climax comes so abruptly with an ending text scroll that I was less concerned with resolution to the story and more concerned with wondering if they ran out of money and had to end production.
This one was a real stinker. As I wrote, laughs can be had if you pay attention, but I predict it will be quickly forgotten as another Brooks misstep.
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