having never watched everybody loves raymond but still being a fan of ray romano, mostly for his work in the recently canceled but very strongly written and acted show men of a certain age, i came to this movie grudgingly.
it tells the story of the show’s co-creator, phil rosenthal. phil got a phone call one day. it was good news: russia wanted to buy everybody loves raymond and re-create the show there, as they have done in the past for many american shows, like i dream of jeannie, the nanny and who’s the boss.
phil is excited and visits his parents. he also buys K&R insurance. that stands for kidnapping and ransom, by the way. and off he goes to russia.
immediately he’s hit with a crazy culture shock. sure they want to buy the show, only because it was a hit. they don’t really ‘get’ the show and immediately set to trying to change almost everything.
there’s a statuesque costume designer who insists that, even around the house, the women should be costumed in heels and high end outfits much like models on a runway. there’s a room full of writers who are also writing other shows who don’t speak english, don’t think the show is funny and don’t seem to grasp even the most basic of comedic concepts, all of which were apparently evidenced in the original show.
he butts head with the ‘head of comedy’ who denies him the lead actor he sets upon, after a long audition process.
at one point, an exasperated rosenthal says ‘well, it’s nice to find out that network executives are the same the world over”. just like in the united states, people with no real creative insticts or comedic impulses are the ones making the decisions. he had the same fights there that he probably had here, although in russia he had the added handicap (or maybe luck) to not understand all the criticisms unless they were promptly translated.
this documentary kind of drags a bit, but if you are a tv show, movie or show business buff, it’s really interesting watching. phil rosenthal is a sweet, likable guy. but he’s not mr. personality and he’s not super funny outwardly. he’s a great writer and a charming guy, but this film really isn’t to be watched for the laughs, or the charisma.
i will spoil the end. voroniny, as the show came to be known in russia, became the number one show and 100 episodes were ordered. it’s slated next to be adapted in poland. good luck, phil
now – if you are REALLY commited, here is an entire episode of voroniny for your viewing pleasure: