First Hit: I liked the premise and the questioning of religions and belief. It’s something I’ve done a lot of over the years.
To see a film that dares to ask bold questions to believers of different faiths was refreshing and poignant. Bill Maher takes on religions and the beliefs (stories) that make up aspects of various religions.
On one hand I thought many of the questions were direct and insightful and on the other hand many times the questions came with a smugness that reflected his lack of listening. There was a lack of earnestness to his probing as if he already knew the answer. Yet there were times I could sense his real curiosity as to why some people believed the way they believed.
There are moments in the film that made my eyes role, like the daily re-enactment of the crucifixion at a religious park in Florida, and there were parts holding my curiosity, like when he was at the Dome of the Rock.
What didn’t work overall was that Maher didn’t let people finish sentences; he was condescending and rude to a number of his interviewees. He didn’t let people develop their stories and his eye rolling at times was very tiring. Many of Bill’s own questions about people’s beliefs are one’s that I’ve held, yet he demeaned himself and this film by his own prejudices. Real curiosity would have gone a long way.
Overall: I liked this film in numerous ways but as it wound down I felt that Maher cheated himself and us to an honest inquiry about others and their beliefs.