The title melds the words "religious" and "ridiculous" and the film, the brainchild of humorist Bill Maher and "Borat" director Larry Charles, pulls no punches in its attack on organized religions and their cultural impact.
Should Bill Maher and co. antagonize the world by releasing a "documentary" of religious ridicule during this election, giving Christians, among others, more reason to find Maher and co. to be people one would not vote for?
[B]ill Maher's anti-religious documentary Religulous unspooled today, to generally raucous applause....
Republicans have traditionally thrown out a lot of red meat at this time of year," said Maher. "Sarah Palin, by the way, throws out actual red meat. She actually snarls! I mean, I hate to give money to a politician, I don't often do it, but after her speech I wrote out a cheque to Obama pretty quickly."Sitting next to Maher, [director Larry Charles] added. "I don't think it's our responsibility, necessarily, to hold this back in order to, in an abstract sense, not affect that election. If we can sort of create a little more debate before the election, it might actually help defeat McCain and Palin. So I can make a case for that scenario, as well," he said, and then continued: "Republicans are, it's like an Apocalyptic ticket now. People who are not rabid right-wing Republicans, who are a little bit more moderate, a little bit more undecided, a little bit more ambivalent about this stuff, this movie basically says: This is what these people believe in, they want to destroy the world. You listen to Giuliani's speech, you listen to Palin's speech, they're talking World War III, very clearly."
Maher's approach is fair. He listens to what everyone has to say and thoughtfully considers every word. Then Maher goes for the jugular.
Is faith foolhardy? Absolutely says Maher
"How can you believe in a talking snake?" he asks. How can a man live in the belly of a whale or come back from the dead? And what about those Mormons? How can they believe that God is some real super-dude happily residing on another planet?"
The footage of Maher's off-the-cuff musings in his car about religion are no less light-hearted.
Once this religion-debunking duo heads overseas, however, the hilarity gives way to a darker tone.
From the stormy religious opinions he finds in Jerusalem to the radical Muslim problem in Amsterdam, Maher's quest for "truth" presents a force behind faith that he and Charles would unquestionably call frightening.
Yet nothing irks these filmmakers more than the issue of religion in American politics.
"My country is dumber than your is," Maher quipped before the Canadian press. "Only in America will you find politicians in a presidential campaign trying to out-love Jesus."
"A world without religion is clearly a lot safer than a world with it," says Charles.
Some may vehemently disagree with such commentary from a man sporting a ZZ Top beard and a pair of lavender Crocs dangling from his feet. But so what? Taking a little heat is worth it to these two anti-heaven crusaders.
The Enlightenment is still much with us, the Romantics of our time not understanding the point of it at all:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
PB Shelley, "Ozymandias."
Let's compare this to another poem to see who hates us:
In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter--bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart."
Stephen Crane, "In the Desert."
The mockers, the cynics, the sentimentalists don't get it at all. The hubris of today's trendy fashion is tomorrow's sand-bitten bitterness. And they hate you. It's a comedy. But not very funny.