LOOKING FOR COMEDY IN THE MUSLIM WORLD
starring Albert Brooks, John Carroll Lynch, Sheetal Sheth, Fred Dalton Thompson
written and directed by Albert Brooks
WHY WE FIGHT
directed by Eugene Jarecki
by Walter Chaw The most frustrating thing about Albert Brooks's crushingly boring, infuriatingly unfunny Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World (hereafter Comedy) is the possibility that such was the intention all along. 'Lost in Arabia' (well, India and Pakistan--let's not get crazy, here) finds Brooks doing a high-wire act with post-modernism--the same one he's been doing his whole career, as it happens. At some point, though, it's fair to wonder how long you can push self-awareness before it finally flies apart in a storm of narcissistic deconstruction. Mull over, if you will, a moment where Brooks (as Brooks) recreates one of his classic gags--involving the world's most ironically-tragic ventriloquist--in the middle of an interminable stand-up routine staged in a New Delhi auditorium, closing his act with the dummy (the wooden one) drinking a glass of water. It's Brooks, and Brooks's film, in microcosm: a man who returns the term "mortification" to ritual and religion while being incapable of subsuming the belief that he's still the smartest guy in the room. The trick of Comedy is that in making a movie that isn't very funny about a man who isn't very funny in the middle of a gulf of cultural misunderstanding that's especially not very funny, Brooks hopes to draw a corollary between how the troubles of the world boil down to everybody's inability to communicate. As revelations go, it's not earth-shattering. Guess it goes without saying that it's also not worth the effort to get there.