Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Exporting Raymond

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!  And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews!

Exporting Raymond – 3 out of 5

I’ve never been a big fan of Everybody Loves Raymond—I guess you can say that I’m not “everybody” ha ha…I’ll punch myself in the dick for that one.

Exporting Raymond is a documentary about Philip Rosenthal; a man who not only created Everybody Loves Raymond but also owns the most Jewish-sounding name a person who listens to Toby Keith can think of. (Actually, they would probably just say Jewy Jewenthal—actually, that’s probably too creative for an Anti-Semite. They would probably just say Jew McJew.)
They would also have something to say about that nose though.

In this documentary, Rosenthal’s expertise is requested by Sony to make a Russian version of Everybody Loves Raymond for television over in the land of vodka and *fill-in another Russian stereotype*. What follows is Rosenthal’s journey as he attempts to work with the cast and crew overseas and tries to deal with the culture shock that comes from the fact that his show he believed was filled with universal themes may not, in fact, be universal at all.

This is Everybody Loves Raymond in case you've never watched TV ever.

I like the idea of this documentary but the end result wasn’t as entertaining as I predicted it would be. Being a nut for television shows and movies I’m naturally also obsessed with the production that goes into the process of creating them. When you factor in the language and culture barrier to this dynamic in the doc you would think it would automatically be a massively interesting and humorous adventure caught on tape. However, one thing really held this documentary back.

Rosenthal himself.

Rosenthal not only created Raymond and wrote and directed this documentary but he also comes off as a complete control freak (at best) in this film and a total asshole (at worse). Rosenthal is a writer and creator of one of the most celebrated sitcoms to ever be on TV so his desire to see his vision brought faithfully to foreign television is understandable however he quickly turns into one of those annoying American tourists who drops their Fruit of the Looms and shits all over the culture to whatever country they are in before yelling, “AMERICA NUMBER ONE, BITCHES” and proceeds to air guitar to a Toby Keith song for twenty minutes (two knocks on Toby Keith in one review—take that, Keith!).

Here's Rosenthal looking for areas of Russian culture to ignore and possibly Americanize.

The entire documentary Rosenthal comes off as a stubborn prick who doesn’t want to take into consideration the culture he is in and seems more interested in just making an Everybody Loves Raymond that is just spoken in Russian than an Everybody Loves Raymond that is Russian. I kept thinking that as the documentary would progress Rosenthal would realize he’s being just as bad as the stereotypical American tourist that routinely craps on other countries that they are currently visiting because there’s no McDonald’s, Milwaukee’s Best or diabetes with a square mile of iconic historical monuments but until the end, Rosenthal kept coming off as the entitled man who kept telling the Russian writers, actors, director and producers how the show should be and not how it would work for the audience they are making it for.

"I'm American...that means I'm right...all the time...even when it concerns
what Russians watch on their Russian television networks."

Near the credits, Rosenthal kinda /sort of gets that his show isn’t as universal as he believed and he kinda/sort of realizes that he can’t have it his way and that he has to have some give and take but by this time it doesn’t matter because I’ve failed to make any connection with him throughout the documentary other than the fact he comes off as an annoying turd who look like he was seconds away from throwing a temper tantrum because every aspect of the production wasn’t the way he wanted.  This ultimately hurt any comedic value the movie had too because it looked more like a whiny teen on that spoiled "I'm turning 16 so I need a multi-million dollar party because my parents don't love me" show on MTV than a guy stumbling and falling his way around a adaptation of his creation.  I think that MTV show is called Annoying Bitches.

Here he is on the verge of a tantrum.

I don’t want to sound like I hated Rosenthal it’s just for a majority of the doc he seemed to be actively working against any chance of the film being entertaining by acting like everything about the adaptation had to be about him…he also made sure you knew the doc was all about him as, at one point to either fill in time or cater to his ego, Rosenthal adds a small montage of him walking around the city he was in with some ridiculous graphics dancing around him. Ultimately, this felt completely out of place in this documentary and ended up hurting the film as it made it less about documenting the attempt at translating a hit to Russian TV and made it look more staged than anything else.

I have the same look when I watched Everybody Loves Raymond.

Had Exporting Raymond been more about the trials and hardships of making a Russian adaptation of an American sitcom and the culture shock of the creator trying to adjust his show’s vision to one that will work with his new foreign audience then it could have been amazing. Instead, the documentary is mildly entertaining and slightly annoying as you realize a majority of it is just Philip Rosenthal thinking he is the smartest man in the room and passively aggressively backhands all the people he worked with in the Russian production by hinting that they did’t know as much as he did.

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