Everyone knows about the international muscle of Hollywood’s movies, but generally lost in all the talk about entertainment being the United States’ most dominant export is recognition of the somewhat amazing value and strength of transpositions of various American small screen hits, from Married… With Children to even, yes, The Nanny.
When Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal is tapped by Sony Pictures Television to help advise the producers of a Russian remake of his hit sitcom, he trips to Moscow, by way of a rabbit hole. Rosenthal arrives to find a rundown studio that looks vaguely like the dungeon from Saw, as well as writers and executives who seem unable or unwilling to culturally process the comedic opportunities or even the idea of a henpecked husband.
A charming and interesting real-life cultural mash-up, Exporting Raymond follows Rosenthal’s travails — from dealing with a costume designer who wants to use the show as a personal platform “to educate people about fashion,” the sensibility of characters’ costumes be damned, to casting hurdles that prove out the universality of several old showbiz maxims. With his owlish expressiveness and droll demeanor (advised to get kidnapping and ransom insurance, he’s freaked out that it apparently happens enough to go by the nickname “K&R”), Rosenthal is a warm and witty guide to this unusual travelogue, a sociocultural bauble which locates reserves of empathy where one might not expect. (Samuel Goldwyn, PG, 86 minutes)