The best thing about topic-specific film festivals is that they provide audiences with the opportunity to see foreign films that would otherwise never make it out of their country of origin. Take for example This Is Sodom, a raunchy, big budget comedy that shattered box office records in Israel last summer and was thus ignored by major film festivals that have little interest in mainstream entertainment, let alone mainstream comedy. These types of films are valuable though in that they provide viewers with a rare glimpse into a foreign popular culture that may hold surprisingly similarities to their own. This is definitely the case for This Is Sodom, but whether the film is actually funny or not is entirely a matter of taste.
Starring the cast of the popular sketch program Eretz Nehederet [Beautiful Country], the “Israeli Saturday Night Live”, This Is Sodom has the light, breezy feel of the modern Asterix and Obelix films with a sense of humor that alternates between Monty Python and Mel Brooks. This is the story of Abraham, Lot, and the fall of Sodom told through intentional anachronisms and self-deprecating historical accounts and practices. God is portrayed as a fast-talking salesman, Michael and Raphael are motorcycle cops. The film overflows with off-color double entendres and pop culture parodies that aren’t lost on an audience unfamiliar with Israeli culture. The ensemble cast is extremely likable and at a tight 88 minutes it certainly doesn’t overstay its welcome. If you’re attracted to jokes like “Israel’s Next Top Eunuch” then this film is highly recommended.
The Philadelphia-area premiere of This Is Sodom will be held this Saturday (3/26) at 8:30 PM at the International House with an additional screening at the same venue the following day (SUN 3/27) at 3:00 PM. Both screenings are part of the Israeli Film Festival of Philadelphia.