January 20, 2006, - 3:30 pm
By Debbie Schlussel
* If you’re “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World,” keep looking.
You won’t find much of it in the Albert Brooks movie of the same name. It could have been a lot funnier, but wasn’t. I thought I’d love this movie, but didn’t–even though it makes a lot of great points, as in, that the Muslim World is humorless. This movie certainly reflected that.
It’s about a comedian, Albert Brooks playing himself, who’s recruited by the government to try to figure out what makes the Muslim world laugh–an attempt to win them over (as if that’s possible; it ain’t, but for a brute-strength show of who’s boss). He is sent to India and Pakistan with two useless State Department flunkies. (India is home to 100 million Muslims, though the movie claims 150 million–wrong.)
Yes, there are a few good jokes. The Polish eye-chart one is great (I’m 100% of Polish-Jewish extraction, so, please, no Polish hate-mail).
Then there’s the great joke showing the Indian call-center answering calls for American insurance companies, department stores . . . even, “Hello, the White House, how may I help you?” Hilarious. But most of the movie isn’t hilarious. Not even close.
But for the anti-Semitic Indian Muslim asking for a job from the Jewish Brooks, the Al-Jazeera execs who want to hire him for a new reality show about a Jew living in an all-Muslim apartment building (“That Darn Jew”), and stoned Pakistanis who laugh at a comedy act that’s not funny, the movie is a bore.
As for the points the movie makes–besides that fact that the Muslim world is humorless–the film shows how dumb these silly State Dept. programs pandering to the Muslim world, truly are. They don’t work. In the case of this movie, Brooks’ search for humor brought Pakistan and India to the brink of war, and the program was discontinued.
A lesson for our country: Don’t use these stupid programs to try to pander to those who hate us. They laugh at this (that’s their “comedy”). The best thing they understand is a big, strong military kick in the butt, including guns, missiles, and bombs, if necessary. It works a whole lot better than “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World.” That doesn’t exist there.
* Also opening in a lot of theaters around the country (out already for weeks in limited release) is “Match Point,” which I reviewed here. Like I said, I don’t understand all the hype about it, since this Woody Allen is really a remake of Woody Allen’s “Crime and Misdemeanors“. Different continent, accents, professions. Same plot and ending.
Tags: Albert Brooks, Brooks, comedian, Debbie Schlussel, Department of State, India, insurance, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, Match Point, Pakistan, White House, Woody Allen