"Religulous" movie review

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
A review on the movie "Religulous."

Submitted: April 06, 2009

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Submitted: April 06, 2009

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Sixteen percent of Americans are unaffiliated with any religion. Those 16 percent will probably find “Religulous” to be well researched, compelling, brilliantly executed and funny. The other 84 percent will probably take offense to Bill Maher’s comparison of Jesus to the Seth (Jonah Hill) from “Superbad,” among other things, as the stand up comedian attempts to figure out how otherwise rational people can be religious.

Now all documentaries are made to prove a point. It’s a well believed myth that documentaries are pieces of educational, objective non-fiction that serve strictly to inform. The point of “Religulous,” directed by Larry Charles (“Borat”), is to promote doubt and to question “How can smart people believe in a talking snake, people living to be over 100-years-old, and the virgin birth?” Maher also questions how the United States came to be a Christian nation when the founding fathers were plainly against Christianity. Thomas Jefferson is even quoted as saying “Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.”

With both Catholic and Jewish roots, Maher is extremely well educated on different religions, which is what makes the documentary so compelling. He’s studied the Old Testament and the New Testament and is able to stump everyone he interviews—senators, reverends, scientists, truck drivers—with biblical contradictions and scientific evidence. In one scene, Maher interviews an ex-homosexual who says that there is no scientific evidence that homosexuality is genetic. Rather than have Maher refute the statement, the movie then cuts to a brief interview with the scientist who discovered the gay gene before returning to the interview with the ex-homosexual.

In addition to biblical and scientific contradictions, Maher also compares different religions. A man preaching scientology is shown with Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” playing in the background. An observer walks up and puts a balloon hat on his head. Tom Cruise is shown jumping on a couch on the Oprah Winfrey show. The Mormon religion is also observed, complete with brief pornographic images of Mary and God together. The point? Aliens inside of people and “special underwear” are crazy concepts, but people believe just fine that Jonah lived inside a whale, I’m sorry, a large fish, for three days. The United States is one of the most technologically advanced industrial societies and even considered a unipolar hegemon in the world, yet more U.S. citizens doubt evolution than most other countries except Turkey.

Several times during the film, we see people walk out on interviews because they don’t like that Maher is challenging the word of God. But that’s just the point; he’s challenging it, not threatening it. If there was legitimacy to religion, then those that he interviewed would be able to defend it, but they can’t. And if there were any reason to it, than people would be swayed by Maher’s arguments, because they are reasonable. But my bet is most people who went into the movie having faith will also leave the movie having faith. When Maher is interviewing a Catholic priest in the Vatican City, he asks him “How do you convince people of what’s the truth?” The priest answers, “You don’t. Forget it. You just have to live and die with your stupid ideas.”


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