Exporting Raymond is a very entertaining documentary / travelogue about a guy who goes to Russia to help make a Russian version of the hit American sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. Phil Rosenthal soon learns the cultural differences are greater than expected but is eventually proven right in his belief laughter is universal. The special features also prove that.
Russian television had already adapted The Nanny and Married With Children. Everybody Loves Raymond, or in Russia Everybody Loves Kostya, is a totally different kind of situation comedy. This is one of the problems Rosenthal immediately encounters. Others are writers who are working on many other shows at the same time and also do not believe the Raymond scripts are any good, a costume designer whose mission in life is to dress Raymond / Kostya’s wife like the cover of Vogue so as to educate women, and actors who do not take direction at all.
Rosenthal’s biggest hurdle is that nobody seems to believe the situations in Everybody Loves Raymond, aka where the comedy comes from, is believable or something Russians will relate to.
There is a glimmer of hope when Rosenthal is invited for supper at a coworker’s home. There, over many shots of vodka, he sees that families are universal and if families are universal Raymond is universal.
Things get better after than but it takes the visit of a studio head to get the Russian director and the show on track.
Sony Pictures must be congratulated for including two episodes of Everybody Loves Raymond and their Everybody Loves Kostya version. They really help to get the whole experience.