The Infidel Review: Jew-Ish

April 7, 2010 by  
Filed under - Home, Film Reviews


infidel300x210INFIDEL (15): On General Release From Friday 9th April

Religious humour is always treacherous ground – half of the audience will be extremely offended and the other half are heathens who will just laugh and get over it.

But writer David Baddiel doesn’t seem to give a flying falafel about offending anyone and goes right for the funnybone. For the majority of this film, his aim is dead on.

In The Infidel, Omid Djalili stars in his first leading role as Mahmud Nasir, a not-so-strict Muslim whose penchant for yelling at cabbies gets him in a rift with Jewish American driver Lenny (Richard Schiff). But when Mahmud finds out that not only is he adopted but his parents were Jews, he finds Lenny to be an unlikely friend and mentor.

Unfortunately, Mahmud’s son breaks the news that his girlfriend’s new stepfather is a Islamist extremist and he will need the nutbag’s blessing in order to marry her. Just what you need. So while trying to pretend to be a good Muslim, Mahmud takes lessons from Lenny on how to be a good Jew from the Woody Allen school of Judaism.

Though we know him mostly for stand up comedy, Omid fares quite well on the big screen but at times he annoys us by dipping back into a distracting onstage persona. Richard Schiff is the real prize though and brings a lot of funny to the table; a surprising choice of role for the former West Wing star. There are also a number of enjoyable little cameos from Miranda Hart, Paul Kaye, Matt Lucas and David Schneider who really flesh out the Britishness of the comedy.

Some people may squirm a little at the racial humour but it’s 90% goodness and 10% ‘Ooooh, can they say that?’ Baddiel’s script touches on genuine emotion, slapstick and even a dream sequence – it doesn’t always come together neatly but it’s a good effort for a first attempt.

It’s a fun, easy comedy whose ultimate message of acceptance is predictable and schmaltzy but you’ll be laughing regardless.

StumbleUpon It!


  1. Vickie Irwin says:

    There were lots of good things in this, but just a couple of gripes. Unless I missed something, there was no mention of Mahmoud’s birth mother, on whom his Jewishness would presumably depend- wouldn’t Matt Lucas’s rabbi have asked about her as his first question? It seemed a weakness in the plot that this rabbi was the only obstacle between Mahmoud and his father- and that he was on duty 24/7. Apart from one nurse, the old people’s home seemed not to have a reception desk or managers. Then, it wasn’t really clear why Mahmoud wanted to find out about his Jewish heritage- with all the forces pulling him towards his Muslim family, what balancing force was there on the Jewish side (once again, there could have been more interest if his birth mother proved to be alive). That said, it was a highly enjoyable “see oncer” with its heart in the right place.