Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World DVD: Review By Evan "Mushy" Jacobs

Albert Brooks, like Larry David, understands comedy without trying to overstand it.
  • OVERALL
    3.5
    GREAT
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
Albert Brooks, like Larry David, understands comedy without trying to overstand it.
THE BAD
This movie seems to end too abruptly.
THE FEATURE
If you are expecting to see movie that places a "feel good" theme on East/West relations than Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World is not the movie for you. If you want to see Albert Brooks playing Albert Brooks being sent to India and Pakistan to try and find out what makes the Muslim people laugh (but never really getting anywhere doing it), than I think you will certainly enjoy this film. Taking small elements from a movie like Stripes (in as far getting India and Pakistan to go to war), throw a Curb Your Enthusiasm type attitude (minus the enthusiasm), and I think you get a fair picture in your head of what this movie achieves.

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World has a good beginning, a good middle and then it just ends. Albert Brooks' movies seem to do that. Just when you think you're going to get some grand epiphany, you find out that things really aren't as great as they seem, and that there really isn't anything that special at all about the central problem of whatever seems to be perplexing our main character.
THE EXTRAS
Additional Scenes

These have timecode on them and they play as one long chunk, but they're of very good quality. In fact, these scenes are some of the funniest I have ever scene that didn't make it into a movie. There's the American cab driver who has come to India because so many Indian cab drivers came to the US. There's a scene of Albert Brooks looking for his movies in video stores, and when he finds one store that has them they have confused him with Mel Brooks. There's others on here as well, and truthfully, I think they should have been in the movie proper.
THE VIDEO
Widescreen Version presented in a "matted" widescreen format preserving the aspect ratio of it's original exhibition. Enhanced for widescreen TVs. This movie, made independently, looks really nice. It doesn't have amazing shots or look like Lawrence of Arabia, but it certainly doesn't look like it was put together on a shoestring. Classically told and lit, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World is of all things, easy on the eyes.
THE AUDIO
Dolby Digital. English: Dolby Surround 5.1. This is one of those films where the soundtrack contributes the soft feeling of the movie more than anything else. While they don't use it as another character, it does have a hand in creating a mood and not letting the viewer fall completely into the psychosis of Albert Brooks.
THE PACKAGE
On the front cover, Albert Brooks stands in front of the Taj Mahal holding a microphone. After you see the movie you will understand how this plays into the film. The back offers up 4 shots from the moive, a description of what Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World is about, a Special Features listing, a cast list and technical specs. While I don't agree with Jeffrey Lyons "Brilliantly incisive" blurb on the box, I think this packaging gets the point of the movie across quite simply.
THE FINAL WORD
There is only one scene (albeit a long one) where Brooks takes the stage in an attempt to perform a traditional stand-up routine. I honestly didn't think this was that funny and like the tone of the film, I kept waiting for the "Ah-ha" moment. I have come to realize that not providing that moment is simply part of Brooks' style. He doesn't set out to try and give the viewers a universal truth. It seems like he is more concerned with the journey than it's overall effect.

As a result, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, Lost in America and his other films seem a tad uneven, when maybe it's just his different interpretation of the medium that throws us?

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