Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Bill Maher, Tal Bachman, Jonathan Boulden, Steve Burg, Francis Collins
Director: Larry Charles
Genres: Comedy, Documentary
COMEDIAN & TV HOST BILL MAHER TAKES A PILGRIMAGE ACROSS THE GLOBE ON A MIND-OPENING JOURNEY INTO THE ULTIMATE TABOO: QUESTIONING RELIGION.
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Lenka S. from DANVILLE, PA
Reviewed on 11/6/2018...
The documentary has spunk. Bill Maher does not shy away from asking about controversial issues and hard facts, He does so with light heart, and great care not to offend, despite the fact, that the interviews are full of his signature irony, sarcasm and his "rolling eyes".
The people he interviews are in "high moral standing" in the communities, representing various religions. They are either downplaying, deflecting, or plainly denying any facts that make them feel uncomfortable. Which proves Bill Maher's point perfectly, as he leaves it to them to ridicule them selves.
Despite the above being true, I cant quite decide if this is a documentary or comedy. It is a bit of both, but neither. As in, as a documentary it lacks any depth. All the information Bill Maher presents is common knowledge, I think. And much of it can be googled with much more detailed results. Though he presses for answers, he never goes more deeply into the issues he raises, and just lets the viewer laugh at the absurdity of the answers.
As a comedy, it is funny, yes. But important issues are raised, that are meant to be taken seriously, and should bring new understandings, which the absurdity of the answers, make it impossible.
I have learned nothing new, and likely can hold up better in a debate, then he does. But at the same time, I might be worng assuming that the population in large, has as wide understanding of many of the religions out there, as I have acquired. In which case I would say the movie will likely be very informative to those viewers that have not been exposed to much of the world... yet. It might also be a good movie to use in education.
0 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Christine A. (WriteReviseEdit) from ROCHESTER, NY
Reviewed on 3/18/2015...
Bill Maher is entertaining, as usual, in "Religulous" and uses the film as a vehicle to probe into various means of celebrating religion of various kinds in various locales worldwide. Some of it's hilarious. Some of it's revealing, but more in the sense that it tells you something about Maher's character - and offers a glimpse at him in a more relaxed state than you'd see him in on his TV show. I enjoyed it, though I don't know that I'd need to watch it again and again and again to be left with the message Maher is sending.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Andrea L. from WINDSOR, VT
Reviewed on 6/19/2012...
He is not really seeking to understand christianity or asking questions. He approached his movie with a lot of sarcasm, poorly researched notions, and insinuation. He is not a skeptic, he is a closed-minded comedian. I came to the movie with an open mind at least.
4 of 7 member(s) found this review helpful.
Josh L. from KNOXVILLE, TN
Reviewed on 8/13/2009...
Two things. One: Bill Maher is a smug, fiercely cynical, hyper-intellectual elitist who often abuses those he interviews simply because he possesses the faculties to do so—and, of course, because it amuses him. And, two: I love that. Of course, I understand that Maher’s approach is often counterproductive, but I also understand the inclination, nay, the need to eviscerate those whom you feel represent a failing in the culture or even a single obstructive who seems bent on stagnating—dare I say it—human evolution. That is what I find so engaging about Maher’s standup, as well as his television shows. Like Bill Hicks before him, Maher is good at extinguishing—and sometimes setting—cultural fires. I know that Maher has just as many detractors as proponents, so if he’s already on your shit list, you can probably stop reading now.
In Religulous, Maher sets out on a quest—along with director Larry Charles (Borat)—to figure out why so many people still believe in constructs that Maher (along with 16% of the American population who designated themselves as “unaffiliated” in a recent Pew Forum poll) thinks is a bit last millennium. But, let us not mince words here. Maher isn’t really out to gain understanding; he’s already made up his mind, the jury is no longer out for him.
Maher grew up Catholic, but has a Jewish mother. And, as someone who is also a religious mutt—though, I must interject here and say that, according to Talmudic law, Maher and I are both Jews regardless of daddy’s cockeyed beliefs—I can certainly identify with his earlier who am I? struggles, which eventually led to his current belief structure. While I believe that Maher prefers the more lenient agnostic designation, he has little patience for the faithful. Throughout the many interviews in the film, Maher consistently interrupts and takes potshots at his less-informed interviewees for his own devilish amusement. I took a kind of guilt-free (possibly even sadistic) pleasure in watching Maher duck, weave, dance around and then go for the knockout. It’s like watching Ali box.
This is not to say that Maher presents unfair or even petty arguments to those interviewed. Far from it. In fact, this is one of the more fascinating aspects of the film. Except for the occasional comedic deviation at someone’s expense, Maher mostly quotes their own scripture back to them and then asks questions. Yet, astoundingly, Maher is often met with ire, silence and even offense when one of the faithful cannot explain or even respond to the words in their own holy texts. And Maher isn’t just plucking backwoods yokels away from their ’shine stills. No, the film presents a varied group, from the members of a truck stop congregation to Francis Collins, one of the brilliant minds behind the human genome project. Maher even travels to Israel and Vatican City, not to mention the Creation Museum in Kentucky—possibly one of the scariest places I’ve ever seen—in his search for perspective.
Religulous is one of the funniest and most relevant documentaries I’ve seen in some time. I have a genuine affection for Maher, or, more accurately, for blunt, well-informed culturists who dispense with political and social pleasantries when addressing a world gone mad. That’s a healthy thing, isn’t it: a good, swift pimp-hand to the cheek in order to knock some perspective into us? Unfortunately, given Maher’s approach, Religulous will probably only reach those staring out over the precipice of doubt. As such, the film may prove as nothing more than a fine exorcise in preaching to the choir. But, even so, what an excellent sermon.
5 of 7 member(s) found this review helpful.
A Review to Span Viewers of All Types
Stephen | NC, USA | 02/05/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I watched this movie during a very key time of growing out of my Christian upbringing. I needed this movie to be able to laugh at not only how ridiculous religious dogma is, but to laugh at MYSELF for having once believed something that brought so much grief to my life. This movie was a breath of fresh air and a great stepping stone from a Bible-based upbringing here in the, "Bible belt." For this alone, I give the movie 5 stars. If you're teetering on the edge of belief and non-belief, this movie should pretty well give you the confidence to finally lean to one side or the other. Laughter and Bill Maher's predisposition aside, these people make their very own beliefs look ridiculous.
Highlights for me include parts like this one guy who claims he knows God because of the many, many miracles he has experienced; yet, when Bill asks him to give examples, the guy is unable to intially give any. In response, Bill questions how significant these miracles could've really been if the man is unable to recall even ONE when asked! When the man finally does come up with an example, it's incredibly laughable and you're left thinking, "wow, this guy should've kept his example to himself!" Granted, the man may have very well come up with his example just seconds after saying, "I don't know," but here again, the example he did give is preposterous.
Touching back on something I said in the first paragraph, this film also gave me permission to laugh at myself. Like many who lose their faith when they broaden their world view, this film was a resounding, "ahhhhh," when I realized issues like injustice and suffering don't fit in the equation of faith in the Judeo-Christian God for a reason.
Without going into a diatribe about how selflessly selfish I find many religions to be, suffice it to say, I have finally broken the divisive chains of ignorant and ill-founded faith. The ties that binded me were typical of many religious moderates; fear of death, desire to see loved ones beyond life, personal divine guidance and support through hard times, et al. I lived my life in a superstitious and indoctrinated fashion that narrowly shaped my world view and when I dared to step out of this narrow world view, the questions I asked were usually satisfied with cliche ignorance such as, "God has a plan for everything" or, "my feeble human mind cannot possibly comprehend God's plans!" Rubbish! Now I see this world for exactly what it is and I have been humbled 10-times beyond that of what religion ever did. But I digress...
Back to the movie, Religulous isn't for those of you who are intellectuals well-versed in the thoughts and works of people like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. You may get a number of chuckles but the underlying message (the one in which Bill ends the film with) is exactly that of religion being a detriment to humanity. You will more than likely wish Bill had taken the message a bit deeper, but because I saw this movie at the point I did in my shedding of religiosity, I stand as an example of person who found this to be exactly what I needed to solidify the ground beneath me during my leap from faith to rationale.
With that being said, if you identify at all with how I have portrayed a part of myself to have been, I *HIGHLY* recommend this film! If you've seen this film and you're looking for a much more in-depth explanation or rationale of the message Bill ends the movie with, I recommend the following things to you:
1 - "Root of All Evil?" Documentary by Richard Dawkins: http://richarddawkins.net/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=3&products_id=7 (One of the most engaging and definitive documentaries on the ill-founded grounds of religiosity and spirituality as defined by the superstitious and dogmatic today)
2 - Sam Harris' Lecture on Religion: http://rapidshare.com/files/175676905/Sam_Harris_-_The_View_From_The_End_Of_The_World.mp3 (This is a VERY informative and engaging lecture. Sam's calm, cool and collected disposition - with his effective use of the English language - really drives his point home)
3 - "Jesus Camp": http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Camp-Becky-Fischer/dp/B000KLQUV2/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1233848044&sr=8-1 (If you want to see just how messed up it can get with the Christian fundamentalists raising children, watch this documentary)
4 - "Who Wrote the Bible?": http://atheistmovies.blogspot.com/2009/01/who-wrote-bible.html (An excellent documentary regarding the creation of the Bible)
And with that, I will end this review. Apologies for weaving in and out between reviewing this movie and divaricating off into other topics, but I wanted to write something relevant to the whole topic and give people who want to dig further, a place to start. Thanks for reading.
PS - I forgot to mention the obvious: If you're religious, you will get from this movie exactly what you expect to get out of it: Being offended. If you're religious and you're watching this movie merely to see a bully supposedly picking on poor little innocent religious people, then prepare to walk out of the theater pissed off and having completely missed even the most obvious of notable points made in this movie."
Steven Stewart | Liverpool | 12/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Now for a documentary movie, this has to be one of the most entertaining of its kind and there's no doubting it's because of Bill Maher. In this he sets out around the world to question those who believe in religion on a literal basis. Those who believe in Jesus (literally), those who believe in the garden of eden (literally) and also believe in the stories of Jesus (literally) despite no evidence and huge inconsistencies.
Bill appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to advertise this movie a couple of months ago. He cleared up the fact that he's not saying people are stupid for believing in God, he's just questioning those who believe in religious stories on a literal basis despite no proof. He goes around the country and indeed the the world to question important figures in the religious world.
What he does is he manages to expose those who hold beliefs that they simply can't back up. Predictably some of the lower level figures and believers react badly to Bills probing questions and decide not to continue the interview. Quite surprisingly a lot of higher up figures keep to the interview, acknowledge the probing questions and even a vatican priest states a lot of the Bibles stories and threats are nonsense.
Although this film is meant to be a comic film, it actually exposes a lot of serious flaws in religion and exposes the heights of desperation that people have when seeking out something to believe in. Some people may just see it as a film that pokes fun at religion, and those people would be the religious nuts who blindly believe. However, those with legitimate thoughts will see that it's a film that, yes pokes fun at religion, but in an open minded way and just seeks to question those who don't like being questioned.
A highly enjoyable documentary which I would recommend that anyone buy on DVD upon its release."
Agnostics And Atheists Unite!
Chris Luallen | Nashville, Tennessee | 10/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"More than any in recent memory this is the movie I have been waiting for with great expectations... and it doesn't disappoint. No holy cows are spared, as Bill Maher ridicules Christianity, Islam, Judaism and a few smaller religious sects in the name of rationality and intelligent doubt.
The film is a documentary largely carried out through a series of interviews conducted with religious leaders, believers and a few skeptics. Highlights include an interview with evangelical, and none too bright, Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor and a Jews for Jesus believer who hopes that the end of the world will occur in his lifetime. The laughs are side-splitting and they just keep on coming throughout the movie.
One thing I particularly enjoyed about this theater going experience was how the audience seemed to bond through the shared moments of laughter. Living in the South, those of us who are not religious are vastly outnumbered by the fundamentalists that this film so joyfully satirizes. So to feel that sense of camaraderie with my fellow skeptics was a wonderful feeling. As Maher says, it's time to come out of hiding and let our voices be heard!"