Bill Maher and Larry Charles bring the funny with this documentary that looks at religion and the absurdity that people let guide their beliefs and views on politics.
Now, I will say this right now, if you hold any religious belief’s this film might offend you, in fact, I can almost guarantee it, but if you are coming from the same state of mind as Maher, like I am, then this film will have you laughing while nodding your head as you move along with Maher through various religious landmarks and hotbeds around the world. The film consists of a mixture of interviews with everyday people, to extremists, to people in power over certain views on religion. The topics discussed are all the excepted, the “magic” of the stories, miracle believability, the science of it all, carrying out the word of the bible versus the word of Jesus, etc, etc… Maher simply goes around asking questions, and asking the interviewees to take them out of context and view them as if they were told to you from somewhere else besides the bible, would you believe it?
Maher is great at playing the devil’s advocate and he spends much of the film doing it here. Though, that is not to say that he will shy away from sharing his grounded and educated approach to all things religion. From born again Jews, fundamentalist orthodox Jewish priests who denounce the holocaust with Iran’s president, Scientology, Islam, Mormons, Catholicism, he goes after it all, and by only stating the facts of what these people believe in he gets laughs, and doesn’t even have to show people defend it.
I will say though, there are a few bits that just didn’t work; the Israeli who comes up with ways to get around the Sabbath was a bit dull, as was an Islamic rapper, but most of the time Charles and Maher do a good job of bringing the funny. Though, when it comes to the Islam portion towards the end, Maher’s views on Islam are a bit to generalizing, but he also wasn’t able to get an interview with many Islamic people that were overly accommodating. But, he does not take the moment to point out that just like in America, the people in power and voices of Islam that we hear are that of the ones in power and might hold an extremist view of the religion. Also by the end, Maher is basically making a call for arms for people to make a change and make their voice heard if they are not of religious affiliation, that we can not continue to let this world be destroyed over petty beliefs and that we should be more worried about right or wrong in politics on not trying to adhere to the ideas of ones religious beliefs.
The film in the end though is extremely eye opening at the fact that people are so blind to the absurdity of their beliefs and that they have no defense to their arguments outside blind faith. The film will offend many, but is a joy for those who see eye to eye with Maher, and simply hold the stance of “I don’t know?” when it comes to the higher questions of humanity and the unknown. But most importantly it opens your eyes to how crazy it is that the people in power across the world are driving many important decisions that could effect us all by their beliefs in ideas and stories that were formed by men simply pawing for a way for more power, which is exactly what these people that use religion as their defense are doing today.