Bill Maher’s “Religulous” is no revelation

I was so ready to let Bill Maher hit a pop fly with this one. I mean, I certainly can’t disagree with his thesis that the world is simply too small and overarmed to have religious nuts making all our decisions.

Maher’s funny at times, certainly a quick wit, but by the time the hour mark of the film rolled around I was ready to stop being lectured. He comes across as self-centered (I learned way more about his religious upbringing than I ever wanted to know), hectoring and certainly one who knows how to pick on easy targets and let the folks with the editing gear make them look even goofier.

Indeed, almost all his interview subjects seem to be complete boobs. There’s the pimped-out African American evangelical minister, the guy who plays Jesus at a religious theme park and the inarticulate radical Muslim rapper. Seldom does he sit down with respected theologians or, say, someone who works for a religion-based relief organization and puts his/her faith to good work. Also disturbing is that almost all his vitriol is directed against Christians and Muslims while Jews (with the exception of a completely bonkers Holocaust-denying Rabbi), Hindus and myriad other religions apparently get a clean bill of health when it comes to matters of religious extremism.

It’s easy for a smart guy like Maher to run intellectual circles around fundie nutcases. It would have shown infinitely more balls if he’d actually risked having an argument with a believer that’s his intellectual equal. Or if he’d have used a less-heavy narrative hand and let audiences make up their own minds. Those probably would have delivered far fewer cheap laughs but delivered a worthwhile documentary.

One thought on “Bill Maher’s “Religulous” is no revelation

  1. Good takes, man. I think I may have enjoyed this thing a bit more than you did, but we seem to have caught the same basic flaws. Often felt like an intellectual heavyweight fighting in the flyweight division. Sometimes almost backfired in that it felt like an unfair match and therefore, was less compelling viewing than it could have been with a more even battle of wits….

    I appreciate that docs like this exist, but wish it would have been stronger.

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