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Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

Director:Albert Brooks
Cast:Albert Brooks
Release Date:2006

Opens Jan. 20 at the Charles Theatre

By Joe MacLeod | Posted 1/18/2006

Arrgh, this flick is like holding a mirror up to a mirror, trying to see way clear to the back, but maybe it’s supposed to be that way with past-postmodern comedy master Albert Brooks (The In-Laws, The Muse, Lost in America) as he portrays, well, Albert Brooks, a comedian/writer/actor/director who could kinda right this moment use something to do, and it just so happens the Government of the United States of America, personified by creepily comfortable actor/former real-life U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson (lotsa army movies, television’s Law & Order) needs someone to help Us find out what makes the Muslims laugh, and we’re talking about Muslims as in the Muslims who are Over There, in this case India and Pakistan, and yeah, not Arabs, Muslims. So if you’re familiar with the Albert Brooks sub-audibly low-key styleless style, you might be thinking, Heh, maybe ol’ Albert is not exactly their first choice, chuckle-chuckle, and then there’s more of Brooks’ patented, seamless, effortless, banal, deadpan material oh-so-gently sliding the skewer in, so as almost not to notice it piercing the skin of bureaucracy, the general myopia of Our Government and We the People ourselves in re: the Rest of the World, and comedy-man Brooks himself in his self-directed, self-deprecating attempts at research.

Look, sometimes movies are all about your expectations; we’re talking here about one of those filmed comedy entertainments where you say to yourself, “Hey, that was funny,” as opposed to laughing out loud, and you narrow your eyes a bit, the better to absorb the stereotype-using but not stereotype-abusing comedy-math nuances of each exchange as our touristy Mr. Brooks attempts to secure an office in India and get to work on the 500-page paper required by his government in re: the Muslim humor sensibility, and you cock your head to one side in the manner of the archaically iconic RCA Victor canine because you so want to Get It, because this is an Albert Brooks movie with his big soft face, and he knows comedy when he makes it, and so you should, too, because you’re down in front for the new Albert Brooks, and he’s not just getting paid here, like with those In-Laws deals, but that’s OK, and you’re ready to not piss your pants as you don’t convulse with laughter, but you will have so much to discuss later with folks who remember those great Saturday Night Live shorts, or even Real Life, but unfortunately with some people who say “Who’s Albert Brooks?” or even “Oh, yeah, The Producers, right?” No.

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