For anyone familiar with the late 90's and early 2000's tv show, Everybody Loves Raymond, the name Phil Rosenthal might be familiar. Or perhaps you've seen his new tv shows on Netflix, I'll Have What Phil's Having (from PBS) and it's spin-off, Somebody Feed Phil. (Both of which will make you drool at the food being served and start looking for flights & reservations to visit these wonderful restaurants.)
Well, the show, Everybody Loves Raymond was actually loosely based off of Phil's real life parents (along with some of Ray Romano's experiences). Phil's parents really are that neurotic and charming. (They make appearances in all of Phil's solo shows.) Thus brings us to the topic of the documentary, Exporting Raymond. Once the show finished it's final season, Russia reached out to do their own version of the show. There seems to be a whole slew of tv shows that get turned into their foreign doppleganger. Take, for instance, this Russian version of The Nanny.
Confused as to what's going on in this scene? You're not alone. The focus of the documentary is on how humor isn't universal. Phil figured that having an overbearing Mother In Law would be found hilarious the whole world over, but instead he's met with deadpan faces. They are told they need to meet with the Head of Comedy for Russian TV and, well... See for yourselves.
It's like Google Translate somehow got ahold of the scripts for his show and just rewrote the whole thing. The documentary also delves into a bit of recent Russian history, as Phil's driver was friends with Alexander Litvinenko, the Soviet spy who was poisoned with radiation. When he asks the driver to take him to his favorite spot, he's taken to an outdoor memorial for WW2 vehicles. It is fascinating to see how life in Russia is so different than it is here in the West.
Exporting Raymond is a wonderful blend of American and Russian humor. Both dark and light, both dry and witty. If you've enjoyed his sitcom, you'll love this documentary. (Side note: also check out his book, You're Lucky You're Funny: How Life Becomes A Sitcom.) Also, fun little note, Voroniny (the Russian version of Everybody Loves Raymond) is now the longest running American based sitcom to ever air on Russian TV!