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Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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).
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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?
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