Sunday, April 29, 2012

American: The Bill Hicks Story

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

American:  The Bill Hicks Story - 5 out of 5

Bill Hicks...there will never be another like him.
No matter how hard Denis Leary tries to.
Bill Hicks has gone down as one of the greatest stand-up comedians in the history of the world.  He's been called the comedian's comedian and provided a truly original voice on the stage and earned his place among some of the greats like Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Lenny Bruce.  Whether comedians enjoyed his humor or not, there was no denying--even now--the man was influential and was something different in a world that has the habit of providing the same stuff over and over again.  (Seriously, go into any comedy club and you're going to find a lot of comedians doing jokes about 4 hour erections and some still talk about airline food.)  Even my own stand-up comedy career was influenced by Hicks.  His early stuff where he talked about his life and provided the audience with his own perspective of growing up molded me to pull jokes about my own life on stage.  American:  The Bill Hicks Story follows the life and career of one of comedy's greatest voices and American's greatest patriot who wasn't appreciated in his homeland the way he should have been.

Young Bill...a seasoned veteran barely out of his teens.

The documentary is told from the perspective of Hick's family and best friends who were there with the man from his near meteoric rise to fame to the stagnation and apathy he felt from the American audiences to his experimentation and dependency on mind-altering narcotics and alcohol to the gratitude and appreciation he found overseas to his untimely death at the hands of pancreatic cancer.  The doc is filled with archival footage of his performing in his younger days all the way to his very last performance.  Hearing the stories of Bill's past, his decision to become a comic and the stories of him tripping on psychedelic mushrooms with his comic friends are all entertaining to hear and help provide more substance to the man I only knew from his stage performance but the real highlight to the documentary is the presentation the film is done in.

If you recognize this shot, congratulations because you've seen the clip of
Bill tearing into a heckler the likes of which has never been seen.

The animations mimic the out-of-this-world life that
Bill found himself in.
For the most part, American stays away from the shots of the interviewees sitting in some random room that always has a single potted plant behind them (seriously, why is there always a potted plant behind people in interviews?).  Instead, the film takes photos of Bill, his friends and his family and animates them to tell the story that was Bill's life.  This unique method helps craft the almost unreal journey that the man took on his rise in comedy.  And, of course, clips of him actually on stage is right there along the way.  Like this one...

Even after his death, his comedy is still profitable.
He is the Tupac of comedy.
If you're a fan of Bill Hicks or if you're a fan of stand up comedy in general--even if you are a comic yourself either up and coming or a seasoned veteran, American:  The Bill Hicks Story is a documentary to watch.  Even if you don't agree with Bill's controversial views on religion and the government and even if you don't find the man to be funny, his road to stardom is an interesting one and the actual presentation this documentary provides that road with is something that shouldn't be missed.

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