The Muslims Are Coming!: Film Review
Muslim-American comedians tour Red states in this comedy concert documentary.
Sporting a title bound to strike fear in the hearts of bigots, The Muslims are Coming! chronicles a tour of Red State cities undertaken by a group of Muslim-American stand-up comics. But this is no simple group comedy concert film a la The Original Kings of Comedy or Blue Comedy Collar Tour: The Movie. Rather, it attempts to explore the discrimination inflamed after 9/11 that was faced by American Muslim. Although not wholly successful in its sociological aspirations, the film does provide both considerable laughs and food for thought.
Co-directed by comedians Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah, the film includes generous excerpts from the routines performed by them and their cohorts. Traveling to cities located throughout the South and Southwest, they clearly knew they were in for a bumpy ride.
“It’s a one-way trip,” Obeidallah jokes.
After an amusingly peppy theme song played during the opening credits, the film begins with a barrage of news clips featuring various media pundits and ordinary citizens spouting anti-Muslim venom. But with some exceptions, the reactions garnered by the comedians during their consciousness-raising tour are more positive, such as when Salt Lake City passers-by take them up on their offer, advertised on signs, to “Hug a Muslim.”
One of the more illuminating segments features audience members participating in a “Name That Religion” trivia contest in which they’re asked to identify whether the source of particularly hateful religious passages are from the Old Testament, the New Testament or the Koran. Not surprisingly, most of them, guessing the Koran, fail the test.
The film wanders at times into trivial territory with scenes depicting Obeidallah’s fruitless searching for Snapple drinks and Farsad’s unfortunate attempt at shooting a gun at a firing range. And it delves into all-too-familiar terrain with segments devoted to the aftermath of 9/11 and the controversy over the Ground Zero Mosque.
But it nonetheless makes its important points in entertaining fashion, and the onscreen commentary by a gallery of figures including Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow, Lewis Black, Aasif Mandvi, Janeane Garofalo, Soledad O’Brien and David Cross is both thoughtful and funny.
Opens Sept. 20 (FilmBuff)
Production: Vaguely Qualified Productions
Directors/producers: Negin Farsad, Dean Obeidallah
Executive producers: Gregory Rae, Sawsan Asfari, Maya Sanbar Jamo
Director of photography: Blair Johnson
Editor: Andrew Mendelson
Not rated, 84 min.