Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World | Chicago Reader

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World

For the first time since his brilliant debut feature, Real Life (1979), Albert Brooks plays a semifictional character named Albert Brooks, this time a guy who heads an ill-conceived State Department mission to discover what makes people in India and Pakistan laugh. Questioning and mocking himself, he combines personal worries about his dwindling career as a comic performer with more general ones about this country's lack of smarts when it comes to the third world. Filmed mainly in Delhi, this provocative comedy couldn't be more up-to-date. As usual, Brooks's penchant for realism involves filming from a distance in extended takes and sometimes challenging the viewer to accept him as both an identification figure and a fool—though a softening of his usual obnoxious persona confuses matters a little. With Sheetal Sheth and Fred Dalton Thompson (also playing himself). PG-13, 98 min.

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