Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sue's Reviews: Comedy and Tragedy?

Last night, my sister hosted an event for people to go check out "Searching for Comedy in the Muslim World" by Albert Brooks. I had heard a bunch of soundbites on NPR and was really wanting to see it.

The basic premise is that Albert Brooks plays a character named Albert Brooks, loosely based on himself. Albert is a struggling actor/comedian and is approached the State Department to go to the Muslim world and find out what makes them laugh. The president has decided this will help them to figure out the Muslims and what makes them tick. So Albert heads over to India with 2 guys from the State Department, and hires an Indian assistant. Then they go to work trying to find out what makes people laugh over there, and nothing seems to really do the trick. Albert inadvertantly sets off an international incident, and must return home.

It opened to mixed reviews and honestly, I have to say, my own reaction was pretty mixed. Parts of it were pretty cute, and parts of it were just not that fantastic. I think they played a lot of the great clips on NPR so I had heard them. Really the only new scene that I thought was drop dead hilarious was when he goes to Pakistan by secretly crossing the border and the Pakistanis get him stoned.

Otherwise, all his jokes not only fell flat on the Muslims, but on much of the audience. At many points, my sister and I and our friend Robert were the only people who were really laughing. Of course, I don't know much about Albert Brooks and his comedy--a lot of people don't seem to like him. I can't say for sure if it was his best work or not.

I give Albert Brooks an A for effort, and a B+ for the result. The end came rather suddenly, almost as if he ran out of material... I think it could have been a lot funnier.

Afterwards we pulled the old NYC 2-for-1 special, although my sister later wimped out and got a ticket, and decided to check out "The Squid and the Whale." While I was waiting for her to come back and hang out, I was able to catch about 15 minutes of "Transamerica." Glad I didn't waste my $10 on that one. It looked incredibly strange, I must say. Felicity Huffman WAS pretty amazing, nonetheless.

But back to "The Squid and The Whale."

Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels are married writers with 2 sons, living in Brooklyn in 1986. Their marriage is not working, plagued by infidelity (his and hers) and narcissitic intellectualism (his). When Mom's career takes off and Dad can't get a book published, their relationship finally dies and they decide to divorce.

This sets the 2 boys on a downward spiral. The older boy, desperate to be brilliant and detached like his father, experiments with sex and plagiarism, while the younger boy becomes a raging alcoholic and "abuses himself" in different parts of the school.

This movie too ended rather abruptly, and we were left to wonder what the heck happened.

A solid C-.

Maybe I just don't get independent film. I keep going to all these things and then I leave and I think, "Huh. What the hell?" The only good one I've seen recently was this fall's "King of the Corner."

0 pearl(s) of wisdom: