I expend a lot of pixels singing the praises of people like Judd Apatow and Adam McKay, but one of the funniest and ballsiest people in the business often goes under the radar. I’m talking about the genius of Larry Charles, who has been instrumental in things ranging from Curb Your Enthusiasm to Entourage to The Tick to Borat, and plenty more inbetween (my dad would want me to mention here that he directed Masked & Anonymous, the bizarre Bob Dylan movie I still haven’t watched).
Now Larry Charles is teaming up with Bill Maher to take potshots at that most sacred of cows: religion. It’s the 21st century and the insane superstitions of ancient religions – which Charles characterizes as more like an “obsessive compulsive disorder” – dominate our lives and our global stage.
The movie, which is to be narrated by Maher, has apparently been filming already in locations such as a Muslim gay bar in London, Vatican City and various temples. Charles is selling the as yet untitled movie at the European Film Market in Berlin, where it’s already piqued the interest of some buyers, but Charles is demanding total secrecy from all who read the outline memo he is presenting. Interestingly, the first people to buy the movie come from the Middle East. Hope they can afford bodyguards.
I can’t wait to find out more about the film. We’re entering a new Dark Ages, where science and freedom are under constant attack from all the major religions. Christian, Jewish and Muslim fundamentalism are the biggest threats to the future of humanity, and the first step in stopping these nutcases is exposing them as ridiculous. Larry Charles is setting himself up to be one of the most interesting and bravest commentators on what he sees around him, and between this and Borat, he’s shining lights on very unpleasant aspects of our world – and making us laugh at them.
What’s going to be the most fun is when the lunatics get up in arms about the movie. The best are the ones who hold patently irrational beliefs in invisible beings and people who come back from the dead and ludicrous conceptions of virgins in the afterlife and then pretend that they’re moderate – and they’ll be the ones getting very angry at the movie, by the way. Not as angry as the people who will threaten to kill Charles and Maher (and you know that this will happen. Nothing speaks of being secure in your own beliefs like having to kill anyone who disagrees with you), but these people who straddle the fence between living in and enjoying the fruits of the age of reason and wallowing in ignorance are the ones who get all pissy on message boards and in emails to me.
I don’t know what the actual status of the film is – like I said, it’s been filming, but it may yet have some time to go before it’s ready for release. In his memo to buyers, Larry Charles only says "Coming soon to a house of false idols near you."