Directed by Larry Charles
Comic-turned-pundit Bill Maher talks to the world’s most faithful.
Religulous “succeeds in being almost as funny as it is offensive,” said Joe Morgenstern in The Wall Street Journal. In this “provocation, thinly disguised as a documentary,” Bill Maher sets off on a pilgrimage that includes stops at Megiddo, Israel, and a Holy Land theme park in Orlando. The militant agnostic’s encounter with the world’s most devout is primarily played for laughs. But Maher often ventures into “serious cultural-political territory,” said Robert Koehler in Variety. The humorist cites George Carlin as an influence, and his “intensity and seriousness” here are reminiscent of Carlin in his prime. Maher “never engages in Michael Moore–style gotcha tactics,” but instead asks questions that spark “brilliant, incendiary” conversation. Maher enjoys playing the role of “devil’s advocate,” said J. Hoberman in The Village Voice. But he picks on easy targets, such as evangelical charlatans, rather than talk to learned theologians. He also ignores Eastern religions. As a result, Religulous comes off as more of a “one-man stand-up attack on religious fundamentalism” than a thorough examination of faith.