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Albert Brooks
Albert Brooks, Fred Dalton Thompson, Penny Marshall, Victoria Burrows, Paul Eric Jerome, B.J. Ward, Lynda Berg, Steve Kramer
Writing Credits:
Albert Brooks

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World is the hilarious story of what happens when the U.S. Government sends comedian Albert Brooks to India and Pakistan to find out what makes the over 300 million Muslims in the region laugh. Brooks, accompanied by two state department handlers and his trusted assistant, goes on a journey that takes him from a concert stage in New Delhi, to the Taj Mahal, to a secret location in the mountains of Pakistan. Written and directed by Albert Brooks, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World is a funny and insightful look at some of the issues we are dealing with in a post-9/11 world. The comedy also stars Sheetal Sheth, John Carroll Lynch, Jon Tenney, and Fred Dalton Thompson.

Box Office:
$10 million.
Opening Weekend
$429.223 thousand on 161 screens.
Domestic Gross
$887.416 thousand.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $27.98
Release Date: 8/29/2006

• Additional Scenes
• Trailer


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Looking For Comedy In The Muslim World (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 23, 2006)

With the title Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, Albert Brooks’ latest release seemed destined to stir up controversy. Instead, it generated a collective yawn. The flick never appeared on more than 161 screens in the US and it earned less than $1 million. No particular rose up around the movie. It just came and went without much of a sound.

Perhaps that’s because Comedy never does anything to earn a real reaction. With his career in a holding pattern, comedian Albert Brooks (himself) gets an invitation from the State Department to join a special group. The president thinks the best way to understand people is to find out what amuses them, so a project will head to India and Pakistan to discover what makes them laugh. Despite no pay attached, Brooks agrees to go – largely because they promise him the Medal of Freedom.

Along with State Department bureaucrats Mark (Jon Tenney) and Stuart (John Carroll Lynch), Brooks heads to India. He hires Maya (Sheetal Sheth) as his assistant and begins his task. Frustrated when he discovers there are no comedy clubs in that part of the world, Brooks decides to put on his own show to see what flies. The movie follows his efforts as well as suspicions on the side of local authorities.

Given the status of international affairs, one might expect a mix of political barbs from Comedy. One won’t get that, however, as the film remains resolutely apolitical. Sure, it mocks the inefficiency of government operatives, but even those elements lack bite. Otherwise there’s a minor theme related to tensions between Pakistan and India, none of which amount to anything more than a cheap plot device. This is a kinder, gentler film without any form of agenda.

I thought I’d appreciate that fact, but in truth, it makes Comedy feel toothless. The movie didn’t need to be a screed in either direction, but some kick would have been nice. As it stands, it suffers from an oddly blasé tone that means it feels neutered.

It doesn’t help that Comedy tries to stretch a sketchy concept into a feature film. Sure, the idea is funny, but Brooks can’t come up with enough material to fill almost 100 minutes of footage. Because of this, some sequences go on for far too long. For instance, the big standup scene just never wants to end. A little of that would go a long way, while a lot of it gets tedious and self-defeating.

That’s the big problem here: Brooks just doesn’t know when to quit. Look at the gag about outsourcing. Whenever Brooks visits his office, we hear Indians answering phone calls for various American companies. This proves moderately amusing the first time; it’s not exactly a clever joke, but it offers some humor. Unfortunately, Brooks goes to that well over and over, with decreasing returns each time.

Searching for positives, I like Sheth’s sweet, understated term as Maya; she turns a minor character into a memorable, likable personality. And at least Comedy acts as a rebound from recent Brooks duds like The In-Laws and The Muse.

Unfortunately, that’s more of a slam on those duds than it is an endorsement for Comedy. I find it hard to dislike the film, as it presents a few good laughs and always remains inoffensive and mildly entertaining. It just doesn’t keep us going for its full running time. This would’ve worked much better as a short cable TV special than as a feature-length film.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus D+

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Some parts of Comedy looked great, but the overall impression remained too flat for it to merit a grade above a “B-“.

Many of the concerns resulted from sharpness. Too much of the film came across as somewhat dull and soft. Granted, a lot of it seemed just fine and presented accurate and well defined images, but the fuzzy parts occurred too frequently. I saw no problems with jagged edges or shimmering, but some light to moderate edge enhancement marred to presentation with relative frequency. The image lacked any source flaws, as I noticed no specks, marks, or other concerns of that sort. However, the movie looked a bit grainier than expected.

A film with a pretty bright palette, Comedy usually presented distinctive tones. The colors occasionally came across as a bit runny, but they mainly seemed positive. Most of the various vivid hues were tight and bold. Black levels appeared nicely dense and deep, while low-light shots offered acceptably good clarity and definition. A couple of night shots tended to be a bit dense, but this wasn't a major concern. Ultimately, Comedy consistently remained watchable but erratic.

While Comedy’s Dolby Digital 5.1 mix sounded good, it lacked the scope to earn a high grade. The soundfield remained fairly limited through most of the movie. Elements focused the front speakers. Music managed to get decent reinforcement from the rear, and a few bigger sequences broadened to the surrounds. For example, street scenes added life, and Albert’s trip in a scary elevator made nice use of the back channels. Otherwise, the fronts dominated. They offered good localization and movement, though. The forward speakers presented a fairly natural soundfield, but it still wasn’t terribly involving.

At least audio quality seemed solid. Dialogue always sounded natural and distinctive, and I noticed no issues connected to edginess or intelligibility. Effects stayed minor for the most part. Nonetheless, the various elements sounded accurate and life-like. Music fared quite well. Those aspects all seemed vivid and lively, with clear highs and nice bass. Across the board, low-end response was firm and rich. Overall, Comedy lost points due to its lack of ambition, but it sounded good enough to earn a “B-”.

Don’t expect a lot of extras here. Other than the film’s trailer, all we get are four Additional Scenes. These run a total of four minutes and 30 seconds. We get more of the cab ride from the Indian airport (1:35), Brooks’ attempts to find his movies in various Indian video stores (0:40), Brooks, Maya and Stuart at lunch (1:42) and the flight home (0:33). All are decent, but only the cabbie sequence stands out as moderately memorable. It presents a New Yorker working in India, a funny twist that might have benefited the final flick.

Occasionally amusing but generally lackluster, Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World fails to live up to its potential. The movie delivers no bite and comes across as a concept stretched too thin. The DVD offers decent picture and audio as well as minor extras. Albert Brooks fans may want to rent this one, but that’s the most I can recommend.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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