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Allah Made Me Funny
Allah Made Me Funny 2 out of 4

star2-0

Or, rather, Allah Made Me Not Funny. This concert film directed by Andrea Kalin spotlights the stand-up comedy of all-American Muslim dudes Mo Amer, Azhar Usman and Preacher Moss, and each comic's 20-minute-or-so run on stage is bracketed with a collage of banal snippets from their lives. As documentary, the film is useless: Rather than shine a light on the struggles of these men to live out their faith against much adversity and how that adversity shapes their craft, the behind-the-scenes footage focuses largely on unenlightening chats with family and their sitting behind computers trying to organize their routines. (Because of this lack of significant personal insight, their screechy likening of horses to black people in the opening scene comes off as a desperately and glibly unearned observation.) As comedy, the film is hardly better. In the style of Margaret Cho and Carlos Mencia, these men spit out highly politicized routines about the nexus of race and religion but never risk Cho and Mencia's vulgarity. This means they're also not as frequently off-putting, but they hardly bring anything new to the table, though the laughter from the audience (which I suspect may have been exaggerated in post-production) might suggest otherwise. Mo Amer is the funniest of the three but offers no rationale for why his daughter has a Latino surname (was this a decision to protect the girl from discrimination?), and as such his routine lacks for poignancy. And though they are at their canniest when they focus on how Bush's War on Terror has affected their lives (and perceptions of Americans abroad), these men could benefit not only from more personal revelation but less predictable modes of presentation. Of course, because they are pioneers of sorts, I'll give them a second chance to win me over.

Director(s): Andrea Kalin Cast: Mo Amer, Azhar Usman, Preacher Moss Distributor: Truly Indie Runtime: 83 min Rating: NR Year: 2008

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