Bill Maher: New Rules (DVD)
Collected from one of the most popular segments of the acclaimed HBO Original Series Real Time with Bill Maher, New Rules takes steady aim at well, just about everything in sight, bringing in the hosts incisive wit and hilarious asides. Bill Maher: New Rules brings these cleverly conceived barbs to DVD for the first time, along with some brilliant bonus feature editorials that you're unlikely to find in the pages of your local newspaper.
Bill Maher's New Rules plays like a "greatest hits" compilation that you don't want to end. Compiled from the most popular segment of the HBO original series Real Time with Bill Maher, it's a fitting showcase for Maher's take-no-prisoners approach to political humor, in which the veteran comedian/pundit invents "new rules" in response to the insanity of current events, celebrity trivia, and the nonsensical irritants that pop up in the media on a regular basis. In collaboration with his gifted writing team, Maher delivers a constant barrage of hilarious yet eminently sensible solutions to the foibles of modern society, from common sense ("no more cell phones in movie theaters!") to harmlessly risqué ("lap dancing is a First Amendment right"), appropriately sarcastic ("the end of Friends is not a national tragedy!"), and just plain clever ("whenever they award an Oscar®, they should take one back"). Maher's flawless delivery of these "new rules" (culled from the first three seasons of Real Time) results in a steady flow of laugh-out-loud observations and punch lines, like this one about the same-sex marriage controversy: "All marriages are same-sex marriages--you go to bed every night, and it's the same sex!" And when he's not making funny suggestions about the effects of global warming ("all hurricane names should be scary!"), Maher delivers scathing editorials (mostly aimed at the Bush administration) and performs in comedic sketches like the "Accu-Terror Forecast" or "Ken Burns' Vietnam," spoofing the Civil War documentary style with a Bush-bashing segment called "A National Guardsman's Letter to Home," in which Maher (as Bush) reads a letter to his parents about the "hardships" of Vietnam-era service... in Alabama. Although the main feature runs a mere 45 minutes, there's an additional 28 minutes of material in the bonus features, including several "new rules Extras" and four hilarious "editorials" including Maher's demand for a presidential recall election! Some of Maher's issue-related jokes will grow dated as their timely relevance fades, but New Rules provides a brilliantly comedic appraisal of the early 21st century, from a smart, incisive comedian who'll boldly go where most comics fear to tread. --Jeff Shannon