Monday, April 18, 2011

Documentary: Exporting Raymond

"Even if you've never seen the TV show, 
this is the funniest movie of the year."
-David Young (

"And the best part's all real."
-Pete Hammond (Box Office Magazine)

EXPORTING RAYMOND is a documentary directed by and starring Philip Rosenthal (creator of EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND).  The film chronicles Rosenthal's experience going to Russia and adapting EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND into a Russian sitcom, complete with Russian actors and adjusted plot lines and speeches to fit in with the Russian culture.

This documentary is hilarious as it is not so much about the sitcom, but about the culture clash and culture shock that Rosenthal experiences.  With an extreme amount of deadpan humor, Rosenthal finds that show business is the same in every country - run by the suits.  We see him struggling to explain American concepts to Russians and vice versa.  At the end of the film, we learn that this newly-adapted Russian sitcom is the most popular and longest running series in the country's history.

However, that success comes after a lot of trials.  Apparently, Russia does not understand the "everyman" quality that Ray Ramono's sitcom illustrates.  You see, Russia's previous best-sitcom was an adapted version of THE NANNY.  This show of course uses broad humor and a lot of slapstick schtick.  But with EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, the humor is more based in the reality of average people, about the little things in life.  Evidently Russia was not familiar with this prior to Rosenthal's appearance in the country.  There are many hilarious scenes where Rosenthal is trying to explain why his Emmy winning show is so funny and why it is accessible (and why it can travel across borders).

Now, of course EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND is not my favorite (or even within the realm of shows I watch), but this film was enjoyable regardless.  This film is NOT about EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND.  It is about transferring a quintessentially American idea overseas, and the chaos that ensues. Its about understanding other cultures and other entertainment mediums and audiences.  This film is about culture and the entertainment industry, not about a has-been sitcom.

You should see EXPORTING RAYMOND if...

-You like Russia
-You like deadpan humor and culture clash
-You like entertainment industry issues and current events
-You like Britney Spears (there is a killer Britney scene about her "artistry")
-You like vodka (there's a lot of it)

Check out the trailer here:

Find it on amazon here:
Exporting Raymond

1 comment:

  1. They also tried to create a British version of ELR, but it bombed, despite having some of our best actors/comedians in it, who you would have thought were ideal for the roles. Yet the original American series was a minor hit - it's still being screened today on a sort of eternal loop. My suspicion is that British people accepted the characters, plots and settings in their original American domestic environment just as we would any other GOOD American import. But adapt the scripts to a British setting with British actors... the sentiments would ring false and be jarringly out of place, however you tweaked the scripts. It would still be a bit too mid-Atlantic and contrived, neither one thing nor the other. I wonder if something like this scuppered the Russian version?