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Exporting Raymond (Blu-ray Review)

26 Jul, 2011 By: Ashley Ratcliff

Street 8/2/11
Sony Pictures
Box Office $0.09 million
$30.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG’ for brief language and smoking.

Countless American television shows have enjoyed success overseas, after a little bit of tweaking, making for a formula that appears to work well. “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator and executive producer Philip Rosenthal tries his luck with bringing the everyman sitcom to Russia in Exporting Raymond.

“Everybody Loves Raymond,” which starred Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton, Brad Garrett, Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts, was on the air for nine years and taped 210 episodes. Garnering laughs from the title character’s everyday strife with his fretful wife, overbearing parents and jealous brother, “Raymond” was relatable because of its realistic scenarios. However, the cultural differences between Americans and Russians cause some serious hiccups along the way for Rosenthal.

Rosenthal is a funny, endearing man in his own right, but watching the hurdles he must overcome to adapt “Raymond” for Russian audiences is, at times, draining. Rosenthal, who characterizes himself as “a stranger in a strange land,” even gets scolded for laughing on the set, when all he was trying to do was lighten the mood and encourage the lead actor, whose subpar delivery is painful to watch.

Ultimately, Rosenthal comes to the conclusion that instead of trying to make the same jokes and situations relatable to the Russians, the Russians have to do what makes sense for them and make the show their own. I just wish he had made that discovery earlier on.

Then, suddenly, Exporting Raymond relents from its presentation that suggests the Russians are an all-around harsh people, showing the once-scowling faces of the writers smiling and Rosenthal enjoying a meal with a welcoming Russian family. Again, a little too late. But I guess the agony Rosenthal endured was not in vain after all: “Everybody Loves Kostya” currently is the No. 1 show on the Russian network.

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