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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Larry Charles
Produced by Bill Maher
Jonah Smith
Palmer West
Written by Bill Maher
Starring Bill Maher
Cinematography Anthony Hardwick
Editing by Jeff Groth
Christian Kinnard
Jeffrey M. Werner
Studio Thousand Words
Distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment
Release date(s) Toronto International Film Festival:
September 6, 2008
United States:
October 1, 2008 (limited)
October 3, 2008
United Kingdom:
April 3, 2009
New Zealand:
May 3, 2009
Running time 101 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $2,500,000[1]
Gross revenue $13,136,074[1]

Religulous (pronounced /rɨˈlɪdʒʊləs/) is a 2008 American comedy/documentary film written by and starring political comedian Bill Maher and directed by Larry Charles. According to Maher, the title of the film is a portmanteau derived from the words "religion" and "ridiculous"; the documentary examines and satirizes organized religion and religious belief.[2]



A range of views on the various world religions are explored as Bill Maher travels to numerous religious destinations, such as Jerusalem, the Vatican, and Salt Lake City, interviewing believers from a variety of backgrounds and groups, including a former member of Jews for Jesus, Christians, Muslims, former Mormons,[3] and Hasidic Jews.[4][5][6] He travels to Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park, London and satirically preaches Scientology beliefs.[7][8]



Maher stated he used a fake title for the film to obtain interviews: "We never, ever, used my name. We never told anybody it was me who was going to do the interviews. We even had a fake title for the film. We called it 'A Spiritual Journey.' It didn't work everywhere. We went to Salt Lake City, but no one would let us film there at all."[11] Creationist Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis, who appeared in the film,[10] was critical of what he called Maher's "deception" to obtain the interview.[9][12]

The documentary was produced by Thousand Words and distributed by Lions Gate Entertainment. Originally slated for an international release date coinciding with the Christian Easter holiday 2008 (March 23), post-production delays resulting from a screenwriters guild strike pushed the release date back to at least July 11, 2008.[13] The film was eventually released on October 3, 2008.[14]

Box office

Religulous had an opening weekend take of $3.5 million from an early October 1 release in Los Angeles and New York City and also a limited 502 theater release, averaging $6,972 per theater making it #10 in the box office that weekend. Its per-screen receipts were almost three times those of a competing film to which it has been compared in the media, the politically conservative An American Carol,[15][16][17][18] which edged out Religulous to finish at #9 over the same weekend, but had a per theater average of only $2,325.[19][20] Only the #1 movie, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, at $9,020, had a higher per-screen average than Religulous.[21][22]

For the second weekend, Religulous had a 35.5% drop in box office receipts and dropped to #13 with a gross of $2,200,000 at 568 theaters for a per screen average of $3,873.[23]

To date, Religulous has grossed over $13 million after having a production budget of $2.5 million. It is currently 7th among the highest grossing documentaries in the US and is the highest grossing documentary of 2008.[24]


Reviews for Religulous were generally positive, but with some mixed to negative reviews. The film received a "Fresh" rating of 70% from Rotten Tomatoes based on 139 reviews,[25] and a "mixed" score of 55 out of 100 at Metacritic based on 29 reviews.[26] Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film a rating of three and a half out of four stars, and wrote: "I report faithfully that I laughed frequently. You may very well hate it, but at least you've been informed. Perhaps you could enjoy the material about other religions, and tune out when yours is being discussed. That's only human nature."[27]

Robert W. Butler of The Kansas City Star gave the film a rating of three stars, and commented: "The film is one-sided, less a measured argument than a bunch of rants and barbed observations. But it’s also very funny, which trumps everything else."[28] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a rating of A-, and wrote: "The movie is funny as...well, hell."[29] The Canadian Press said the movie "delivers a laugh-out loud attack on the most sacred of cows."[30] Christie Lemire, of the Associated Press, wrote: "If you're an atheist or an agnostic, you'll be completely on board and happy to tag along with Maher as he travels the globe asking people about their faith - everywhere from Jerusalem to the Vatican to Amsterdam, where he finds not only the Cannabis Ministry but also a Muslim gay bar (with two people in it)."[31] John Anderson of Newsday wrote: "much that's funny, insightful and thought-provoking. But it certainly doesn't give the religious a lot of slack."[32]

Rick McGinnis of Metro gave the film low marks, concluding that "Maher is preaching to the choir with an undisguised dishonesty that only the true believers will forgive."[33] James Berardinelli wrote, "If the subject of religion is as important to Maher as he claims during his end comments, then he should have followed those words with actions and made a movie that's more than a sum of inauthentic interviews, ranting attacks, and obvious observations. The choir may hum along with Maher but the rest of those watching this movie will be singing the blues."[34] Nick Schager of Slant Magazine called it an "atheistic wannabe-dissection of modern faith."[35]

In a review for The New York Times, Stephen Holden wrote that "the movie has the same loose, on-the-road structure" as Larry Charles' previous film Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and commented: "Much of Mr. Maher’s film is extremely funny in a similarly irreverent, offhanded way."[36] Claudia Puig of USA Today wrote: "those with a taste for irreverent humor and clear-eyed analysis will find it funny, enlightening and disturbing."[37] Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter characterized the film as "An often hilarious but relentlessly shallow attack on religious fundamentalism by humorist Bill Maher".[38] Louis Peitzman of the San Francisco Bay Guardian wrote that "It doesn't even matter that he goes out of his way to be offensive, as he's consistently funny enough to pull it off."[39] Scott Indrisek wrote at that: "Religulous earns many of its laughs from skillful editing, with Maher's interviews jazzed up by video clips".[40] Ben Kenigsberg of Time Out New York gave the film a rating of three out of six stars, and wrote: "The worst scenes in Religulous are appalling for their methods; the best are appalling for their information."[41]

Religulous received a 7.8 rating on[42]

DVD release

Lions Gate Entertainment released the film on DVD February 17, 2009.[43] Special features on the DVD include a commentary with Bill Maher and director Larry Charles, deleted scenes, and extended Bill Maher monologues from around the world that were either edited down or not included in the film at all.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Religulous - Box Office Data, Movie News, Cast Information". The Numbers (Nash Information Services). 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  2. ^ King, Larry (2008-08-20). "Bill Maher Discusses Religulous on Larry King". Larry King Live (CNN). 
  3. ^ Means, Sean (2008-10-02). "Review: Maher takes on religion but sounds like he's preaching to the agnostic choir". Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  4. ^ Schaefer, Stephen (2008-09-29). "Bill Maher takes politically incorrect look at faith in ‘Religulous’". the edge (Boston Herald). Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  5. ^ Powers, Thom. "Religulous: A Conversation with Bill Maher and Larry Charles". Toronto International Film Festival Group. Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  6. ^ Hemingway, Mollie Ziegler (2008-09-18). "Look Who's Irrational Now". The Wall Street Journal (Les Hinton). Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  7. ^ Moore, Roger (2009-10-01). "Movie review: 'Religulous' -- 4 out of 5 stars". The Orlando Sentinel.,0,4421023.story. Retrieved 2008-10-01.  4/5 stars
  8. ^ Slotek, Jim (2008-10-03). "Anti-religion film not risky enough". CANOE - JAM! Movies (Canoe). Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  9. ^ a b Ham, Ken (2007-02-07). "HBO’s Bill Maher and the plot to deceive AiG". Answers in Genesis. Retrieved 2008-10-04. 
  10. ^ a b Cusey, Rebecca (2008-10-01). "Maher takes on religion, but some interviewees cry foul". Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2008-09-31. 
  11. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (2008-08-07). "Bill Maher hates your (fill in the blank) religion". The Big Picture (Los Angeles Times). Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  12. ^ Fletcher, Jim (2007-04-16). "Creation Museum's 1st visitor? Bill Maher". WorldNetDaily. Retrieved 2008-10-04. 
  13. ^ Sciretta, Peter (2007-08-18). "Bill Maher’s Religion Documentary aims for Easter Release Date". /Film ( Retrieved 2007-09-10. 
  14. ^ Miller, Winter (2008-05-11). "'Religulous' shifted to October". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  15. ^ Phillips, Michael (2008-10-03). "For the right wing, 'An American Carol'". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Germain, David (2008-10-06). "Audiences adopt 'Chihuahua' with $29M weekend". Associated Press. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  20. ^ McClintock, Pamela; Tatiana Siegel (2008-10-06). "Political season hits its peak". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  21. ^ "Box Office Mojo Weekend Box Office October 3–5, 2008". Box Office Mojo (Box Office Mojo). 2008-10-06. Retrieved 2008-10-09. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ "October 10–12, 2008 Weekend". Box Office Mojo (Box Office Mojo,). 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  24. ^ "Religulous (2008)". Box Office Mojo (Box Office Mojo). 2008-10-19. Retrieved 2008-10-16. 
  25. ^ "Religulous". Rotten Tomatoes (IGN). 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-04. 
  26. ^ "Religulous - Lionsgate". Metacritic (CNET). 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-04. 
  27. ^ Ebert, Roger (2008-10-02). "Religulous". Chicago Sun-Times ( Retrieved 2008-10-02.  3.5/4 stars
  28. ^ Butler, Robert W. (2008-10-02). "‘Religulous’". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved 2008-10-02.  3/4 stars
  29. ^ Gleiberman, Owen (2008-10-01). "Religulous (2008)". Entertainment Weekly (Entertainment Weekly and Time).,,20230120,00.html. Retrieved 2008-10-02. 
  30. ^ "Bill Maher travels the globe challenging religious belief in 'Religulous'". The Canadian Press. 2008-09-20. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  31. ^ Lemire, Christie (2008-09-29). "Maher preaches to choir with religion film". The Salt Lake Tribune (MediaNews Group). Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  32. ^ Anderson, John (2008-09-28). "Bill Maher questions religion, God in 'Religulous'". Newsday (Newsday).,0,4460986.story. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  33. ^ McGinnis, Rick (2008-10-03). "Religulous (film review)". Metro. Retrieved 2008-10-06.  2/5 stars
  34. ^ Berardinelli, James (2008). "Religulous - A movie review by James Berardinelli". ReelViews Movie Review ( Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  35. ^ Schager, Nick (2008-09-20). "Slant Magazine Film Review: Religulous". Slant Magazine ( Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  36. ^ Holden, Stephen (2008-10-01). "Believers, Skeptics and a Pool of Sitting Ducks". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  37. ^ Puig, Claudia (2008-09-30). "'Religulous' mirthfully heaps scorn on the faithful". USA Today. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  38. ^ Honeycutt, Kirk (2008-09-04). "Film Review: Religulous". The Hollywood Reporter (Nielsen Business Media). Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  39. ^ Peitzman, Louis (2008-09-30). "Film listings". San Francisco Bay Guardian. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  40. ^ Indrisek, Scott (2008-09-30). "Maher's Believe It or Not". CondéNet. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 
  41. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (2008-10-02). "Religulous (2008)". Time Out New York (Time Out Group). Retrieved 2008-10-02.  3/6 stars
  42. ^
  43. ^ "Religulous DVD / Home Video". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved February 28, 2009. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Religulous is a 2008 documentary film directed by Larry Charles. It stars political comedian Bill Maher who travels to numerous religious destinations, such as Jerusalem, the Vatican, and Salt Lake City, interviewing believers from a variety of backgrounds and groups, including Jews for Jesus, Christians, Muslims, polygamists, Satanists, and Hasidic Jews.

Bill Maher: What happens in Gomorrah, stays in Gomorrah.

Bill Maher: Gay Muslim activists. That is a very rare job description. You guys have big ones.

Bill Maher: You know, Scientologists [sound of audience laughing]. And right, you're like, "Oh, yeah, that's some crazy shit. Okay." Jesus with the virgin birth and the dove and the snake who talked in the garden, that's cool. But the Scientologists, they're the crazy ones.

Bill Maher: See, this is my problem, is, I'm trying - I mean, you're - you're a Senator. You are one of the very few people who are really running this country. It worries me that people are running my country who think - who believe in a talking snake. Um...
Mark Pryor: You don't have to pass an IQ test to be in the Senate, though.

Bill Maher: There's more than one mosque in the world that used to be a church and before that was a temple. Because it's a lot easier to just change the sign on the top and say "under new management" than it is to change the whole building.

Bill Maher: Do you think it's possible that when we're on something like marijuana or mushrooms and we believe we're having a really spiritual experience that we're just high?

Bill Maher: Scientists line up overwhelmingly on one side of this issue. It would have to be an enormous conspiracy going on between scientists of all different disciplines, in all different countries, to have such a consensus.

Bill Maher: It seems that if God wanted to communicate something to the world - he's all powerful - he would just talk to the whole world. It always seems he picks out a prophet in private and tells them "Ok, you're the prophet. Now you go tell the rest of the world", so we just have to take it on faith.

Bill Maher: The irony of religion is that because of its power to divert man to destructive courses, the world could actually come to an end. The plain fact is, religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge having in key decisions made by religious people, by irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken. George Bush prayed a lot about Iraq, but he didn't learn a lot about it. Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It's nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction. Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it's wonderful when someone says, "I'm willing, Lord! I'll do whatever you want me to do!" Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas. And anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die, I promise you, you don't. How can I be so sure? Because I don't know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not. The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that's what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong. This is why rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you comes at a horrible price. If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence, and sheer ignorance as religion is, you'd resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife, for the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers. If the world does come to an end here, or wherever, or if it limps into the future, decimated by the effects of religion-inspired nuclear terrorism, let's remember what the real problem was. We learned how to precipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it. That's it. Grow up or die.

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