Holy Controversy: Religulous Reviews Hit Web

It is going to be quite fun watching film critics in the MSM tackle Religulous, the anti-religions (re: not anti-organized religions) documentary from director Larry Charles (Borat) and Bill Maher. Reviewing this film practically demands that one states his/her personal beliefs—sort of like with Iraq War docs, but, you know, bigger—and judging from two of the first reader reviews on AICN, Maher doesn’t leave much wiggle room: it’s the “you do” or “you don’t” proposition. And unlike Ben Stein’s Expelled, Religulous will have a much higher media profile when it’s released this October.

The first reviewer is an evangelical Christian who’s a fan of Maher’s canceled Politically Incorrect talk-show. While the film offered “chuckles,” the reviewer goes on to say that Maher’s take on religion(s) is ultimately one-sided. But isn’t that Maher’s point? There is no middle ground? Moreover, the reviewer took issue with the “mission statement” that Maher makes at the film’s conclusion (spoiler alert)…

“[Maher] dismisses all of Christianity based on the supernatural events in the Bible, which he says couldn’t have happened, and complains that it doesn’t present itself the way he personally wants it to. …The kicker is the ending. (MAJOR SPOILER – I guess): After 90 minutes of interviews, Bill states that all religion is evil and must be destroyed for the good of humankind. He comes to this conclusion based on the Koran’s and the Bible’s predictions of destruction of the world at the “end times” and feels that these religions want the world to be destroyed because God or Allah has ordained it.”

I wonder if “destroy” is actually said. The other review is from a “lapsed Catholic” who is neither a “believer” or “nonbeliever.” This reviewer expected a documentary that clowned people like Borat, but was struck by its seriousness. He says that Maher doesn’t victimize anyone, and even though he tends to “preach” his atheism, he doesn’t cut off the religious people he interviews in the film (including someone (not Seth Rogen) from the Church of Cannabis).

“All in all, I must say that I really enjoyed the film. If you are like me and go into this film expecting another “Borat”, you are either going to get more or less than what you bargained for, all depending on your perspective of religion (obviously). I will also say though, that if you are looking to be offended, the odds are pretty good.”

In a recent issue of TIME magazine, a cover story on Mark Twain delved into that man’s candid remarks on religion(s) and atheism, which sounded a lot like Maher’s today. Given the amount of time that has passed since Twain’s passing, I highly doubt this film will change the minds of any viewers over the age of 25.

Discuss: What do you make of the “spoiler mission statement”? How do you think the MSM will treat/review this documentary? How do you expect it to perform at the box office?

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