Fast paced, action packed comedy. Tension flares in The Motor City as Officer Richardson profiles every Muslim he sees as a terrorist. He goes on an arrest frenzy, which makes the community activists, Jihad and Osama take to the streets and rally the people to stand up for their rights. The Chief of Police wants to gain the trust of the Muslim community in order to get re-elected, but Attorney Leila Rodriguez is standing in the way with a discrimination law suit against Officer Richardson and the Motor City Police Department. The Chief calls on his most unreliable detective, Mohammed and partners him with a Middle Eastern, Sharia Law fanatic, Detective Abdul. The Chief wants them to “Speak Muslim To The Muslims” which he thinks will guarantee his re-election.
User Reviews: The film ‘American Sharia’ has been advertised like crazy on channels that has a primarily Muslim demographic and social media. There are trailers, interviews with the cast, Snapchat stories, you name it – it’s got it. The tagline is ‘the Muslim comedy film of the year’ but in reality, what other films can it compare to? The ‘Muslim film’ industry, if I can be allowed to categorise in such a manner, doesn’t really exist, so of course it would be ‘film of the year’ if it’s the only film of the year.
Omar Regan, the creator of the film, said that he had five more scripts to produce. He also introduced the film by saying that he had ran out of money (a quick Google search found that money to be $122,102 raised from a Kickstarter campaign) and that some of the scenes were not as well put together as he had hoped. Not the best ways to begin your first film.
The film starts with some people driving police cars, accompanied with a spiel of names that are famous in the ‘Muslim social media world,’ Baba Ali, Yaz the Spaz and Noor Tagouri for example. About fifteen minutes into it, I had no idea what was going on and had to take notes to follow the storyline in its entirety. From what I gathered it’s about a community somewhere In America has a predominantly Muslim population and the police are determined to work with the community and gain their trust; the film is about what happens on both sides. But then there’s the inclusion of a journalist, a news reporter, a homeless shelter, a political group of college students, an evil mastermind, the imam of a mosque; one could say that all of these things encompass a community and that is essentially what the film is about, but there are too many things happening in a short space of time and as a viewer this is very disconcerting.
I understand that this was low-budget production and this entailed Halalywood (the pun-filled name of the film company) not being able to afford a film set or a green screen or a sound studio that the rest of Hollywood uses as a crutch, but I have seen independent films that had steady camera movements at the very least. The biggest problem the film has is the multitude of characters; they are each given very big chunks of the storyline and not enough character background are given to them. Why did the Arab woman in the shop break down after racial jibs from a police officer and then became strong when someone tried to steal from her store? Why is Laila, the attorney, so interested in this community and how did she know Noor the news reporter? What is the significance of the student duo?
Not only this but I do not know what the main theme of the film was. The genre is supposedly comedy but a lot of the scenes were of a sensitive nature and not humorous at all. The White police office trying to shoot a Muslim woman was a very intense scene, so was the one when Mo found all the women locked up as supposed ‘terrorists’ but then this turned into something comedic and lost it’s value. If the producers are trying to hint at serious problems in a joking manner then this is not the best way to do this. There are too many serious themes covered in one film and it became a little confusing; are they trying to show the dysfunctional nature of the police department and how some people get away with killing innocents in the name of the law; are they showing how the minorities of a community are shunned away with nobody to help them; are they wanting to give a voice to the Muslim population who are usually discriminated in society? Why did the police shun the community of Black Muslims and accept the Arab Muslims as their community? I do not know what discourse this film is trying to create
For a film that is produce by Muslims for Muslims, it sure does conform to a lot of stereotypes that exist. Abdul, the ‘good’ detective had an extremely thick Arab accent (Persian perhaps?), I guess at times this had a comedic value but why could he not have a normal American accent? Laila was an imperious person, a very typical ideology many people have about women who become educated. The shopkeeper proceeded to chase the teenager who shoplifts with a rolling pin; is this not the most emblematic thing for ‘foreign’ mothers to do? I’m talking about Muslim characters but also the White police officer is shown to have murderous tendencies and has no regard for anyone who is not White; just as all Muslims are not terrorists, not all White policemen are killers. None of the characters felt very real except maybe the political duo but even the crowd that they congregated didn’t feel authentic.
One of the things that I was extremely surprised by is the amount of positive reviews on social media. "I can’t get enough of American Sharia," "when is the sequel out?" "how do I take part in the next film?" Nobody is saying anything critical. Yes, this is the first film that they have produced and yes, they should get praised for trying but films are a reflection of society and this one didn’t have a very big impact. Also, why has nobody said anything about the completely random singlemuslim.com advertisement? I look forward to what comes next as Muslim orientated films get bigger and the Muslim community begins to appreciate creative endeavours. Still, I would not watch it again as it was labelled a comedy and I did not laugh.