No need to panic; despite the plethora of negative reviews about this movie and its surprisingly simple quest to interview pious followers of a handful of deities, positive reviews actually exist.
You won’t be able to see it at Provo Town Centre, however. Movies need to make money, and, recently, people’s interest and dollars are more invested in Chihuahuas.
You see, for me doubt is very important. It’s when we start doubting what we’ve been told that we begin to find alternative points of view, which is a completely productive concept. Therefore, doubt can let us see both sides of an issue.
Bill Maher, the funny yet heavily armed and witty agnostic, who turns out to be quite a know-it-all, depends on doubt for his arguments with the religious.
He’s only pointing out the obvious, such as how he’s worried that we have people running our country who believe in a talking snake. He asks a Christian lady, If the Jack and the beanstalk story had been put in the Bible and Jonah and the whale taken out, would she think Jonah’s story was crazy? He talks to an ex-gay evangelical who believes all gay people are unhappy and confidently states, “No one is born gay.” Maher’s reply: “Have you met Little Richard?”
He continues on to less funny topics such as the religiously motivated murder of Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh — a crime committed in response to his film about abused Muslim women. This trend toward the depressing continues when he addresses a belief held by various religions, that there will be no rapture to heaven until the end of the world, which necessarily includes destruction, chaos, and, of course, annihilation of the non-believers.
He gets kicked out of the Vatican but is able to speak to a high priest who pretty much agrees with everything Maher has to say, adding that in a poll done on Catholics to see who they pray to in certain situations, Jesus was straggling behind various other saints.
Unfortunately, Maher gets kicked out of Temple Square by “Mormon fuzz,” and sadly, he fails to speak with anyone except disgruntled ex-Mormons who look like they might have met Maher at a club somewhere downtown the night before. He does, however, poke fun at the LDS garments, or “magic underwear” as many non-members call them.
You might even feel that some, more than others, deserve Maher’s comedic punishment — like Mr. Jesus Miranda, who believes he is actually the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Not surprisingly, he has hundreds of thousands of followers who worship him and pamper him with riches and praise.
Maher tries to point out that since God does not talk to people, when they attempt and fail communication, they tend to fill that empty space with human ideas, and humans, as we all know too well, can be idiots. He never fully comes out and claims he’s an atheist, however — but that’s because he’s not selling you atheism, just doubt. He’s pointing out contradiction and hypocrisy in religion and the danger that this can cause, especially in these uneasy times.
I recommend this movie for those who don’t mind questioning themselves and possibly laughing while doing so. In Utah, Religulous is playing only in Broadway Centre Cinemas in Salt Lake City.