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I had the chance to catch “This is Sodom” over the weekend. I knew essentially nothing about the film before watching it; my first thought I as I watched the man in a suit struggling to walk across the hot desert sand in his dress shoes with a metal briefcase for what seemed like forever was “Oh lord, what have I gotten myself into?”
As it turns out, I had been watching “Hashem” walk across the desert to meet with Abraham and his son, Isaac in their rickety tent. This slick salesman had a deal for them. He wants Abraham to become his first customer, and just as you would imagine, Abraham who had a full white beard and was dressed in desert garb with a goat bleating in the tent, had more than a few reservations. “Hashem” explains to his potential first customer that if he signs up with the company, then he will be the father of a great nation, which will live and rule in Canaan and Hollywood. Not only that, but “Hashem” will prove his might by the imminent destruction of the corrupt town of thieves and criminals plaguing the rest of the desert. By this of course he means Sodom, the city of sin. After some high tech negotiations, they agreed to let Abraham’s nephew, the single righteous man in Sodom, Lot, to survive the imminent destruction of the corrupt town. Of course, Lot’s lovely wifre, a retired pop music singer, his virtuous daughter, the evil Mayor of Sodom and his son also have something to say in the matter; so things inevitably get more complicated.
So, needless to say, this is not your parents’ Bible story. “This is Sodom” definitely feels like a grandchild of Mel Brooks, if not an estranged cousin, with a touch of Sasha Baron Cohen. Add in some scenes with Bollywood style song and dance nubmers, as well as loads of anachronistic satires of how things are now and how things may have been then, and you have some idea of what you will be watching. “This is Sodom” is a fun candy treat for adults, and can stand to remind us of our more serious cultural heritage, with a real tongue in cheek perspective.
In all seriousness, humor can be a funny thing. It is actually a significantly harder genre to perform successfully than audiences realize because what is funny or witty can vary so much among different people. Humor has to contend with both personal and cultural sensibilities. It does not always translate well. For example, I personally find “Borat”, and “Blazing Saddles” a little… well… they are just not “Space Balls”. Even so, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the jokes and jabs that the cast of the comedy troupe Eretz Nehederet (the Israeli SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE) inserted into their satire of religious figures, game shows, celebrities, and Israeli culture. There were a few moments where I did wait for the proverbial lightening to strike my TV set down. That has not happened as of yet. It was still working as I sat down to review the film, so I’m guessing G-d has a pretty good sense of humor.
If you too have a pretty good sense of humor and/or are interested in getting a taste for the biggest box office success in Israel in 25 years then “This is Sodom” will be a fun treat for you. "This is Sodom" will be screened on Thrusday, June 28th at 7pm.