The title of the film “Religulous” is a made-up word, a hybrid of “religion” and “ridiculous.” Essentially, “Religulous” is ridiculous without the “dick” – although with Bill Maher involved, there’s still plenty of dick to go around. The comedian/HBO host/novelist/squire of incredibly hot minority women adds documentarian to his list of titles with this film, a beating of the religious bushes to shake out why so many people are willing to place their faith in any number of faceless deities just to get through life. With “Borat” director Larry Charles along for the ride, Maher and a skeleton crew head all over the world to find out not whether God exists, but why so many people think He does. From mosques in the Middle East to trailer churches in America’s south, Maher preaches the gospel of “I Don’t Know,” a sort of anti-religion that states that while he might not be a believer, that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s an atheist either. Maher doesn’t know what to believe, and while staying true to his normal role of smug jackass, he also seems genuinely curious as to why the faithful are so darn sure that theirs is the right and only way. Sure, he pins them to the wall on a lot of the things they believe, but he’s also willing to hear what they have to say… and then he rips it apart for the cameras as soon as he’s back in the van. It’s a real tightrope between comedy and expose, and therein lies the rub… Maher and Charles gild the lily a bit too much for my taste. The pious attitudes and beliefs of some of the people interviewed are more than enough to hang them out to dry, and Maher’s willingness to listen, coupled with his parrying skills as skeptic and natural interviewer, turn up those disturbing falsehoods and astounding ignorances all on their own. Unfortunately, Maher and Charles also add captions, sound effects, film clips…basically a lot of window dressing to make the nutty seem even nuttier. I’m nitpicking here; the film is a comedy and the additional material definitely amps up the laughs, but its inclusion succeeds in dulling the points being made. Which is mainly that unquestioning belief is a dangerous thing, and is leading to an even further polarization of the pieces of our fractured world. The film does meander in places; Maher’s trip to Amsterdam to talk to a priest of the Cannabis Church is only included so Maher can do easy jokes and get high on camera, and his sit-down with a formerly gay minister who was “cured” of his homosexuality doesn’t really pay off the way it should. A visit to the Holy Land theme park in Florida, however, is a standout; it’s here the movie’s blend of farce and fact really overlap, as Maher has an in-depth philosophical discussion of belief with the actor who plays Jesus in the mock crucifixion staged at the park. The guy stays in character the entire time, and actually puts Maher on his heels at one point. Maher discusses this fact in a cutaway, allowing us to recognize that as ridiculous as he finds religion to be, even a cynic like him can see religion’s power to blind the faithful when presented effectively. It’s a great moment, one that shows the true power of the subject matter, and the honesty of the man decrying it. The crescendo of the film is fantastic, as Maher drops the snarky outsider façade to reveal his own version of a fire and brimstone preacher, forcefully driving home the point that the world needs to “grow up” – or the consequences will be devastating for everyone, believer or not. In a complete surrender to irony, many religious groups are showing up at screenings to protest the film, apparently not realizing that the very act of protesting a film about intolerance only makes Maher’s argument stronger. Nice job, zealots; let’s face it, if these people truly believed in the Gospels they claim to live by, wouldn’t they all just forgive Maher? Here’s an idea: why not turn the other cheek and go see “Fireproof”? You’ll still get to go to the theater, and you’ll have your beliefs reinforced at the same time. Whether you believe in Scripture or not, however, I’m certain there’s one point on which we can all agree… Kirk Cameron on the big screen? Truly, the end is nigh.