Mar 8, 2011

Overrated films part 29

It was strongly recommended to me by various friends and family to see Religulous. After being hounded for my opinion on it I finally took a friend to see it. Later I reported my opinion to those who cared and some were genuinely surprised by my enjoyment, or lack thereof, of Maher's film.

'Religulous' is a documentary, or it could be better called a vanity project, for Bill Maher, the outspoken host of HBO's Real Time. In it Maher travels the US and abroad interviewing and often times ridiculing his subjects who all have one thing in common, they're devout in their religious faith.

It's clear from the start that Maher is an agnostic who feels everyone else should be. That's not a criticism nor would I call him arrogant for his world view, but one is left to wonder just how much depth he's given to educating himself concerning the world's big three faiths. He often asks questions that only a child at Sunday school would. When speaking to a priest at Vatican City about his confusion regarding the Holy Trinity the man of the cloth responds with the age old answer of how water also exists in three forms. In a surprising admittance regarding his sophomoric view on the Bible, Bill had no answer to that. Seriously he couldn't think of a response, witty or otherwise, to one of the oldest and lamest explanations regarding one of the most complicated mystery of Christianity.

Maher often ridicules his subjects with devious glee, which would be entertaining if most of the participants in the film were anything other than emotionally inept. I couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for some of the folks he interviewed. As the friend who watched it with me commented, it was like watching someone poke fun at the mentally disabled. The majority of folks he spoke with gave the audience the impression that they were just not prepared to engage in a debate with the likes of Maher. Unsurprising to most, gotcha journalism doesn't exactly give people the chance to have a rational, well educated discussion. He catches his guests, makes laughs at their expense, and repeats the same formula for the entirety of the documentary.

A lot of my friends really enjoyed this movie, as well as many critics. Most of them had the same religious views as Maher and if they spoke honestly they'd probably admit the only reason they liked this film is because they finally felt they had a guy in their corner battling the forces of the unreasonable. The religious and the non share a common cross if you will. Both feel persecuted for their faith or lack thereof. If I were to outline why it would make for the longest blog post in the history of One Bad Apple.

Most of the interviews are hardly enlightening nor even that interesting and, sadly, weren't funny. For someone as smart and entertaining as Maher is this movie showcases few of his talents. A lot of it is information you are already well aware of, but if you feel the need to be preached at by an agnostic who holds disdain for anyone who doesn't think like him then this is the film for you.

Wanna see a film reviewed by Wiwille? Drop me an email or comment and you'll see it soon on One Bad Apple. Rules are posted here.

"Being snarky and smug doesn't equate to providing insight, and there's more than one occasion when the filmmakers lose sight of this in their zeal to spread the Gospel According to Maher." - James Berardinelli


Sparkling Red said...

Thanks for confirming my suspicions about this film so that I won't waste my time watching it. Ignorant, arrogant posturing is equally unhelpful whether it's coming from religious people or non-religious people. I've even heard a convincing case made that atheism is a religion, since the absence of God/a god/gods is just as impossible to prove as the presence of such, therefore it is as faith-based as any other religion.

Miss Ash said...

I remember when this came out I had wanted to see it, now I don't think I'll bother. I'm not a big fan of Mahers to begin with.

WV: whories tee hee

Greg Saum said...

We watched it a few months ago, and were entertained for about 10 minutes. Then it got really stale, and it became clear that the film was going to be a shallow insult-fest instead of an intelligent conversation on religion. A huge missed opportunity on the part of Mr. Maher.