Albert Brooks's Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World is receiving even harsher criticism than the Christian film, and not at all because of the use of the other religion's name in the title. Brooks once claimed that Sony refused to distribute the movie because of the title, a claim that Sony denied. Critics are suggesting that the studio correctly decided to cut its losses. The film starts off well enough, the critics agree, as Brooks is supposedly hired by a presidential commission to find out what makes Muslims laugh. In fact, Jack Mathews writes in the New York Daily News, "There are funny ideas laced throughout, but they are rarely fleshed out into something more than a spasm of whimsy." Several critics give Brooks their blessing, however -- among them Claudia Puig in USA Today, who writes: "The comic actor/director's most humorous movie since 1996's Mother is filled with witty social observations and silly laughs. It runs out of steam in the final 15 minutes. But anyone who can mine so many laughs from the world in which we live since 9/11 deserves applause." And Kevin Crust in the Los Angeles Times comments that the movie "is not Brooks' funniest film, but it possesses his trademark wry humor and is slyly observant. At first glance, it would appear not to have much to say. But Brooks, a low-key comedian, has a fondness for the broad, high-concept set-up that masks the subtlety of his satire."



01/20/2006