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RELIGULOUS, 2008
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RELIGULOUS
Movie Review
Directed by Larry Charles
Starring Bill Maher, Religious Groups
Review by Eli Manning



SYNOPSIS:

Borat director Larry Charles follows host Bill Maher as he travels the continents interviewing various subjects about God and religion.

REVIEW:

Never have I been to a movie where there was almost as much chatter happening from the audience than there was happening on the screen. Religulous is a film that will definitely get people talking. So much so, many couldn't even wait until the film was over. This is an important movie too because the topic of organized religion needed to be presented (finally) to a large population and to show people how silly it really is.

Our host and guide Bill Maher just stays on the topic of why people believe in certain things. That's his thesis statement: WHY?

And perhaps on his journey some people can convince him to reevaluate his atheist status. But like most documentaries, his thesis statement is already answered before the cameras even begin rolling and the footage leading up to his conclusion will back up his answers.

Maher easily could of gone further in organized religion. Manly how very corrupt is it and in many ways how most of them are high-volume setups of a pyramid scam where the lower chapters always pay up to the billionaires on the top. Or how many of these organizations use cult like methods to convince people when their weak to join them or else 'they will burn in hell'! But Religulous doesn't even begin to touch those even more sensitive issues. They just want to know how we got to our present time in our evolution (sorry religious believers) and what religion means for man in the future.

How did we get here? Maher tries to answer those questions and sets off all over the world to historic places to talk to people who really control the religious power.

Comedy is used in Religulous to tame the sensitive issue that this is. And it's really a funny movie. It doesn't resort to Michael Moorish ways to manipulate facts to serve their agenda. Yes, this film was edited to serve their purpose, but it's style is very freelanced. There is no voice over in this film, but just Mr. Maher in his car talking about his own perspectives on religion from his past and the many people he interviews. It's as genuine as a documentary can be.

There were many moments where they easily could of gone farther and embarrassed their interviewers in the editing room, but they decided against it. They didn't want to poke fun at people and their beliefs, but just find out answers. And when you talk about something that is so emotional for many people, comedy easily comes into the equation.

The way director Larry Charles films Religulous is unique as well. He always makes sure that we know that it's a documentary that's being filmed by showing random shots of the crew and/or boom pole while Maher is doing his commentary or interviews. It serves as a way to tell the audience to not take this film too seriously because it doesn't want to be like organized religion. The crew and Bill Maher are a just group of guys who are all raised in religious families and really never got it. It's that simple. So they set out to see why they didn't get it and why religion is so mainstream and a part of our world in such a profound way.

There are many answers to how religion evolved in our world. Bill Maher made a stand-up comedy career on this topic. He even

concedes that he even makes pacts with God at times. He tells a story of how when he quit smoking, he would tell God that if he helped him, then we would do so and so to thank him for it. That story is probably the analogy of why religion exists. There is an instinct inside many of us that tells us that we are not the highest being and that we need help from the world. Many of us believe in something bigger than us, and that's how organized religion became to be.

The problem that Religulous tries to make about organized religion is that it's facts are always manipulated to serve people, the leaders tend to make stuff up to serve their own purpose, and religions like say Christianity use beliefs as truths and try to tell people that the Bible is an accurate history book.

But the main overall plot of Religulous is the filmmaker's frustration of how organize religion sticks their noses in things like government where it doesn't belong. Everyone has beliefs and ideas of who they are and why we're here, but running a government has nothing to do with this. And Maher states throughout that religion could be the end of us. Meaning that the craziness that our world is about organized religion could be that the high powers that be (the government leaders, not God and Jesus) take actions that effect the death of all of us. It's already happening in small ways, and if we keep going where we are going, then we could be in a lot of trouble.

Bottom line, Religulous is a funny movie that explores that almighty issue of our current times.

This is a lack of buildup during the middle of the film where the overall thematic of the piece seems to lag. The audience forgets for a bit what this film is really trying to say. They interviewed over 50 people so I guess there was so much happening, we forgot who was who at times.

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The best part of this film is the 3rd act climax which leads to Maher's overall summary of what he's experienced. It's a nice wrap up to the maddening subject that is.

Overall, please see this film. In this review I couldn't help but tip my hand that I believe everything they said in Religulous. It's just who I am. But I do wonder what people who have a great faith think of this film, or if they would even see it.

I am not an atheist. I do believe in a higher power of some kind. I just know that it's not what the many religions of our world say about it. And I think I'm not alone in that feeling. If you understand business, you know that these are the corporations that you should be worrying about. Starbucks tries to sell you coffee. Religions try to take your soul and a lot of your money too.

3 1/2 stars out of 4. Must see film! center>

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