I’ve never seen a full episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, but judging from the generous amount of clips in this film I definitely have the gist of the beloved, long-running sitcom: quaint, schmaltzy humor based upon the home life of its creator Philip Rosenthal. It’s simply not my thing, though it definitely appealed (and continues to appeal) to a majority of American television viewers as well as those in the 140 countries in which it is broadcast in foreign languages. A few countries aren’t content with simply dubbing the show though, instead insisting upon making it their own. The comedic documentary Exporting Raymond chronicles Rosenthal’s journey to Russia where he tries his best to supervise the creation of Everybody Loves Kostya to mixed results.
Rosenthal both wrote and directed this film, the writing credit a result of an excessive amount of first person narration. The film comes across as rather mean-spirited at first with Rosenthal taking unfair jabs at Russian architecture, clothing, and general stoicness, but he soon finds that the characters themselves provide more than enough unintentional laughs that rely on reasonable cultural differences rather than easy mockery. Russian writers, directors, actors, and an ambitious costume designer all stand in the way of seeing Rosenthal’s original vision faithfully adapted for their homeland’s audiences, but he stands fast throughout it all with a wry smile and a never-ending series of frustrated quips. The result is an oftentimes amusing film that unfortunately doesn’t succeed, or perhaps even attempt to succeed, at transcending its subject matter. Fans of Raymond will surely be pleased in any case.
Exporting Raymond screens tomorrow (SAT April 9) at 12:15 PM as part of the 2011 Philadephia Cinefest. It opens in select theaters on April 29…no word as to when/if it will receive a theatrical run in Philly.