Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World Movie Poster Image
Odd comedy sends Albert Brooks to South Asia.
  • PG-13
  • 2006
  • 98 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Main character behaves badly, repeatedly, while imagining he's doing right, by imposing his values on his hosts and making assumptions about what's "funny."

Violence

Some threat of war (missiles and guns deployed); Brooks accompanied by gun-toting Palestinian when he crosses border.

Sex

Brooks' wife shows brief cleavage; some belly dancers on TV, one job (apparently pre-op) applicant states he wants to be a woman.

Language

Some use of the s-word and "hell," one f-word.

Consumerism

Brooks stays at the Hyatt in New Delhi; running joke about the outsourcing work to India (references to Kenmore, Dell, Toys R Us, Harry and David); also references to Finding Nemo.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Minor drinking in a bar; Brooks smokes a cigarette during his (unconvincing) ventriloquist's act; Palestinian comedians smoke something to get high when he comes to visit them.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the film's comedy is premised on stereotypes and parodies, showcasing the protagonist's self-absorbed ignorance, and by extension, U.S. self-importance when dealing with "the Muslim World." Some jokes are potentially offensive ("Your mother thinks Muslim is a fabric"; a director says she doesn't want to "go a Jewish way" on her new movie) and some characters are obnoxious. Pakistani and Indian officials misread Brooks' activities, both sides thinking he's a spy for the other, and "resume armed conflict" at film's end (this is represented as a joke, in the background on TV). The film features some strong language ("hell," s-words, one f-word).

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written bytintin_in_arcata April 9, 2008

Why is there no Halloween in India? Because they took away the Ghandi!

This movie is pretty funny. I like Albert Brooks, mainly because a good deal of this movie is about people who do not like him. A lot of the movie isn't fu... Continue reading

What's the story?

In LOOKING FOR COMEDY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD, the State Department asks Albert Brooks to go to South Asia to find out what makes Muslims laugh. His trip is rife with the sorts of hijinks, awkward pauses, throwaways, and ba-dump-bump jokes that usually take up time in all of his movies.

Is it any good?

Despite its title, the quirky Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, like all Albert Brooks movies, is about his world. While the comedian journeys to India and briefly across the border to Pakistan in search of "comedy," the film's primary punch line has to do with the Brooks character finding that he resides in his own world wherever he goes.

When Brooks' show takes him across the Pakistani border, he meets with comedians who don't speak English. At the same time, administrations on both sides of the India-Pakistan border read his movements as espionage, mounting their missiles in anticipation of the other's strike. Brooks remains blithely unaware of his broader effects, emulating the nation he represents. And in this way, intentionally or not, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World makes its point.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the concept of humor as a means to make connections between cultures. How might discussion and entertainment help to work through differences? How does Brooks' comedy reveal the effects of arrogance and self-involvement, despite seeming good intentions? How does the movie use stereotypes to comic effect?

Movie details

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