American comedy in Dubai

Guardian Unlimited

Middle Eastern settings are unsurprisingly writ large over the lineup of the second Dubai Film Festival this weekend. The Film festival, which has livened up the Gulf city’s cultural life, is seen as a venue for new filmmakers to present their often quite challenging fare to audiences of considerable ethic diversity.

Top of the bill is Albert Brooks’s satirical Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World, in which Brooks plays a man sent to Pakistan at the behest of the US Administration to forge a more harmonious post-911 world. Although the film sends up US policy and American ignorance about the region and its inhabitants, Brooks told Reuters news agency that its eye-catching title had caused Sony to pass on distribution rights for fear of arousing Muslim suspicion and reprisals.

Also screening are the Israeli-Palestinian co-production and drama Paradise Now, and a documentary about the Christian Lebanese Forces militia that slaughtered Palestinian refugees in 1982.

Comedy in the Muslim world?

Rediff India Abroad By Arthur J Pais

The script called for a shot of the exterior of the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi but writer, actor and filmmaker Albert Brooks, who says he had received ‘unprecedented access to mosques, temples and monuments,’ quickly discovered that his list did not include the embassy.

Brooks’s film, now known as Looking For Comedy In The Muslim World, did not even have a title during the shoot. Or, if it did, hardly anyone knew of it. For one thing, he was afraid the title would create controversies. The film, which also stars America-raised Sheetal Sheth, revolves around a comedian (Brooks) who has to spend a month in India and Pakistan, write a 500 page report, and tell Washington what makes the over 300 million Muslims in the region laugh. But he finds people aren’t opening up. He is also surprised to discover there are no comedy clubs in India or Pakistan. So, he decides to put on the first comedy concert in New Delhi. His problems continue. Continue reading

Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World By John Stossel

Sony Pictures got upset about a “bad” word. They demanded it be taken out of the title of a movie. The word is “Muslim.”

Give me a break. Do we have to be that sensitive? Or fearful?

The movie is “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World.” The writer and star of the movie, Albert Brooks, says he made the movie because he was concerned that, in the wake of 9/11, Americans hated even the word “Muslim.” “A part of me always thought,” Brooks said, “what are there, a billion-and-a-half Muslim people on this planet, and I never thought that all of them wanted us dead.”
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Funny choices

Los Angeles Times By Patrick Goldstein

Something’s wrong when a studio balks at a comedy this inspired.

Albert Brooks performs a stand-up comedy concert in "Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World." (Lacey Terrell)

In the days after the calamitous 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, there was a brief flurry of soul-searching in Hollywood, focusing in part on how much of a role our movies played in stirring Muslim rage against America. As innumerable cultural historians have discovered, many devout Muslims are horrified by the sexual innuendo and crass materialism in Hollywood films and music videos, not to mention Vanity Fair, whose salacious cover spread this month of Paris Hilton pretty much says it all when it comes to celebrating even the tawdriest members of our celebrity culture.
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From Albert Brooks, Discomfort’s a Joy

The Washington Post By Ann Hornaday

Is there an actor alive who can make discomfort as hilarious as Albert Brooks?

Woody Allen comes to mind, and indeed Brooks has often been called Allen’s West Coast obverse. But the comparison doesn’t do justice to Brooks as the original that he is. Happily, Brooks takes center stage in “The In-Laws,” a surprisingly sprightly remake of the 1979 movie starring Alan Arkin and Peter Falk. Here, Michael Douglas takes on Falk’s role of the high-flying undercover agent, but in the updated version Douglas is mostly a slick, loquacious foil for Brooks’s pained comedy, which gets only funnier as the film gets busier. As an anxious Everyman caught in a whirlwind of international intrigue and ever-escalating action, Brooks is a quietly molten core of hapless, and helplessly funny, midlife angst.
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Now, he leaves neuroses on set

New York Daily News By Nancy Mills

Father of the Bride Meets a Son of a …: Albert Brooks in ‘The In-Laws’
HOLLYWOOD — Albert Brooks is not pacing around his hotel room. He has two movies about to open — “The In-Laws” tomorrow and “Finding Nemo” May 30 — but angst is not piling up in little neurotic molehills.

What’s wrong with him?

“Having a wife and kids has more than mellowed me,” says Brooks, 55, who married multimedia artist Kimberly Shlain six years ago and is the father of a son (Jacob, 4 1/2) and a daughter (Claire, 3).
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Unlikely, and that’s the point

Los Angeles Times Calendar Section By Lewis Beale & Jennifer S. Altman

In “The In-Laws,” Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks
clown and carouse in the best tradition of comedy teams.

Abbott and Costello. Rowan and Martin. Hope and Crosby. Burns and Allen.
Douglas and Brooks?

Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks haven’t exactly joined the pantheon of immortal comic teams, but they give it their best shot in the Warner Bros. film “The In-Laws,” opening Friday. Based very loosely on the 1979 comedy starring Peter Falk and Alan Arkin, the movie features Brooks as an uptight Chicago podiatrist who, because their children are about to get married, becomes involved with wild and crazy CIA operative Michael Douglas.

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ReelWest Magazine Question & Answer

ReelWest Magazine

In 1971, a stand-up comic named Albert Brooks wrote an Esquire article about a non-existent school for comedians. Later, PBS hired him to make an information commercial for the same fake school. The show ran on the network’s The Great American Dream Machine. Brooks went from there to a season making short films for Saturday Night Live and wrote, directed and starred in the feature film Real Life.

Since then he has made six films of his own and has taken acting roles in 10 other movies including the recent My First Mister, which marked the directing debut of Christine Lahti. While promoting the film, Brooks talked to Reel West about Saturday Night Live, the on-set problems that arise when the director also acts and the reasons why he became a triple threat.
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Tribute’s Bonnie Laufer talks to Albert Brooks and Michael Douglas about starring in their new comedy, The In-Laws. Bonnie Laufer

B.L. So what took so darn long to get you two together in a film?
A.B I’ve got a terrible agent. (turns to Michael) What’s your excuse?
M.D. (laughing) I don’t now, I wasn’t the first person they thought about for a buddy picture…
A.B. Oh come on, I wasn’t Gwyneth Paltrow that’s why!
M.D. That’s true and I didn’t try to kill your dog or you or your sister.
A.B. Michael came to the conclusion that he should work with men too.
M.D. That’s true, you reach a certain age and it’s the only way to go.

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He’s plane nervous

Toronto Sun By Bruce Kirkland

HOLLYWOOD — Albert Brooks is taking the aftermath of terrorism as hard as anyone in America. In particular, the threats of more plane hijackings frighten him.

“I never gleefully ran on to a plane — ever,” he tells The Sun. “But I don’t feel so comfrotable doing anything right now. This is the beginning of something, not the middle or end of something. Our complacency is over.”

At home in L.A. with his wife, Kimberly Shlain, Brooks focuses on his two infant children, three-year-old Jacob Eli and one-year-old Claire Elizabeth.
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