Release Date: Oct. 3
Director: Larry Charles
Cinematographer: Anthony Hardwick
Starring: Bill Maher
Studio/Run Time: Lionsgate, 100 mins.
Bill Maher wages snarky crusade on organized religion
Following in the heretic spirit of Christopher Hitchens, Bill Maher shows off his agnostic angst in this barbed documentary analyzing the logical shortcomings of the Abrahamic faiths. Directed by Borat helmer Larry Charles, the duo goes cross country, interviewing religious figures and visiting such institutions as a trucker chapel and the center for Cannabis Ministry. Unlike Charles’ last project, there’s no comedic caricature to deflate the tension between predator and interviewee—just Maher’s deadpan oratory pitted against street-level defenders of the faith. While entertaining, the philosophical merit gets lost as Maher’s contempt for the Church reveals him to be as fundamentally biased as those he interviews. To the filmmakers, Christianity, Judaism and Islam have only led to genocidal violence and ignorance; they neglect the humanitarianism and relief work of Mother Teresa and religious NGOs. It’s an unfortunate perspective, as Maher’s rhetorical skill in exposing the hypocrisy and inconsistency of conmen like faux-messiah Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is more than hilarious—it’s socially responsible. But the majority of his targets aren’t leaders or spokesmen—they’re strawmen dissected on camera with a merciless judgment fit for the deities on trial.