From Russia With Laugh Track: Phil Rosenthal Takes His Show on the Road in Exporting Raymond


Exporting Raymond
Directed by Philip Rosenthal
Samuel Goldwyn Films
Opens April 29

Network television’s subsistence on pre-chewed food is exploited and gently mocked in this quickie documentary from Phil Rosenthal, creator of the durable sitcom throwback Everybody Loves Raymond. Affably beleagured like any good TV dad, Rosenthal chronicles his travels to Moscow to help adapt the show for a Russian network. Once there, he milks the cultural hurdles and occasional resistance he encounters for yuks, some of them earned. Fans of the stateside series—this doc’s ideal consumers—will find its heavy-handed jokiness comfortingly familiar, along with the sentimental arc that’s established once Rosenthal finally runs out of moldy Cold War–era gags. The movie’s staleness, bland presentation, and general lack of insight into this particular armpit of globalization are no surprise given its maker’s pedigree and deep-insider status, but like its namesake, Exporting Raymond captures a few satisfyingly human moments: Rosenthal bonds with the show’s initially skeptical writers when he figures out they’re toiling on multiple series, and a visit to a military expo brings out the tender side of his stoic driver, Eldar. These scenes are undercut by Rosenthal’s habit of painting everything in freeway-size strokes, but that’s as much a part of his success as the showy populism that never quite redeems either Raymond.

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Hodges Shari
Hodges Shari

We just saw exporting Raymond in Phoenix azLaughed our @@@@@ off. Our daughter has been living with her Russian boyfriend for a year in California. Thank you For explaining why we're going nutz with this guy! No sense of humor, at all! Our daughter is a screwball and all this guy does is stare at us like we're crazy!! He can get on a plane and go back to Moscow anytime, we'll buy him a ticket! He likes to surf so we're stuck with Ivan the Terrible!


Actually, Russians have a great sense of humor, it's just really different from American humor. Like people from most of the slavic countries they have what we would consider a dark, absurdist and very ironic view of what's funny. Once you get to know it, it's absolutely hilarious.


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