Big question: "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" tackle our stormy political climate with a smirk. Can Albert Brooks handle the humor without just fueling the friction?
Catch it: This smart satire masterfully manages its post-9/11 undercurrent of sly, left wing disapproval. When the U.S. government sends Brooks to India to investigate what Muslims find funny--as if this will help Americans understand their perspective--the film becomes a hilarious poke at the Middle East, Hollywood, and, with hysterical poignancy, Washington, D.C.
Skip it if: You're hoping for a complex analysis of what makes Muslims chuckle. All Brooks learns is that he's the world's worst ventriloquist.
Bottom line: "Looking for Comedy" takes a cunning jab at U.S. foreign policy by sending someone overseas for no justifiable reason. It also uses Middle Eastern stereotypes only to question what could be accomplished by foolishly sending Americans into a world we don't comprehend.
Bonus: Brooks, after getting stoned along the Indian-Pakistani border in the middle of the night, declaring, "I've never seen dirt that brown!"
`Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World'
Written and directed by Albert Brooks; cinematography by Thomas Ackerman; production design by Stephen Altman; music by Michael Giacchino; edited by Anita Brandt-Burgoyne; produced by Herbert Nanas. A Warner Independent Pictures and Shangri-La Entertainment release; opens Friday. Running time: 1:38. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for drug content and brief strong language).
Albert Brooks - himself
Stuart - John Carroll Lynch
Maya - Sheetal Sheth
Mark - Jon Tenney
Fred Dalton Thompson - himself
Emily Brooks - Amy Ryan
Penny Marshall - herself