Have you been praying for The Varieties of Religious Experience to be translated to World Beat? Peter Rodger's documentary ponders questions that have captivated theologian and layman alike for centuries—"What is God?" "Is He really one and the same across lines of faith?" "Is He there?"—and answers them with hectic travelogue montages cut to the beat of bad wine-bar music. Visiting all corners of the globe, from "Little Tibet" to the Aussie Outback to Vatican City, Rodgers seeks the counsel of shamans, Shinto priests, Druids, Hugh Jackman, Sir Bob Geldof, etc., and reduces whatever wisdom they offer to soundbites in the mix. The drubbing score leaves one nearly insensate to the fact that Rodgers has nothing original or even interesting to say about his subject, flattening fine points of Scripture to recommend interfaith group hugs. A charmless host, Rodger, who narrates in newscaster tones and sporadically appears onscreen, never met a culture he couldn't trivialize—I was offended by lib-pandering gags at the expense of Texan gun culture and the unnecessary subtitling of New Orleans kids—but his fatuity recognizes no borders.
Monks at India's Hemis Monastery.
Runs at Varsity, Fri., Nov. 27–Thurs., Dec. 3. Not rated. 98 minutes.