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American: The Bill Hicks Story (2011)

Bill Hicks , Mary Hicks , Matt Harlock , Paul Thomas  |  NR |  DVD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Bill Hicks, Mary Hicks, Steve Hicks, Lynn Hicks, Dwight Slade
  • Directors: Matt Harlock, Paul Thomas
  • Producers: Matt Harlock, Paul Thomas
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: BBC Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 7, 2011
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004UA8D2I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #151,177 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "American: The Bill Hicks Story" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

The brief trajectory of Bill Hicks is a saga that has only grown larger since his death from cancer in 1994, with the comedian's brainily profane, take-no-prisoners approach attracting a fervent cult of admirers. For those fans, this loving film will serve as a further confirmation of Hicks's often blistering talents. Those on the outside, however, may find this an unsatisfactory entry point. As a documentary, it tends to tell, rather than show. Using an animated photo collage that recalls The Kid Stays in the Picture, codirectors Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas have assembled a legion of family, friends, and fellow performers to wax rhapsodic about Hicks's turbulent life and times, ranging from his early success as a teenage performer, his struggles with drugs and alcohol, periodic brushes with stardom, and his final defiant rants against the establishment before succumbing to pancreatic cancer at the age of 32. While the passion of the filmmakers and participants is without question (particularly on the extended interviews included in the extra features), the performances shown unfortunately often fail to live up to the buildup, with such hallmarks as his famously scuttled last David Letterman appearance nowhere to be seen. The clips that are present, meanwhile, tend to favor the comedian's angrily self-righteous rants, rather than his more accessible--and often riotously filthy--comedy routines. Those already among the converted will find this reverent look back essential, but newcomers to Hicks's material may have some trouble seeing what the fuss is about.--Andrew Wright

Product Description

American: The Bill Hicks Story brings to life the amazing true story of one of modern culture’s most iconic figures. Much more than just a comedian, Bill Hicks has become an inspiration to millions around the world. As a rebellious teenager, he discovered that comedy was a way to break all the rules, but then he found it could also open people’s minds. Bill’s comedy challenged the injustices of life head on, but his uncompromising approach met with conflict in America and it was instead on the international stage where he found fame. In 1993, on the verge of wider success, Bill fell ill with terminal cancer, but his timeless material has lived on, revered by comedians and audiences alike as the man who changed comedy forever. Taking documentary to a new level, American uses interviews, archive footage including many unseen performances, and stunning animation to bring Bill’s inspiring story to life, told for the first time by those that knew him best.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
62 of 82 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bill Hicks deserves a hell of a lot more than this June 16, 2011
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
In the booklet included with the new Blu-ray "American: The Bill Hicks Story", Mary Hicks, Bill Hicks' mother, is quoted as saying "When he got sick, Bill wanted me to help him file all of his photographs, and he showed me Hendrix and Dylan documentaries. I said, 'Bill, why are you showing me all of this?' and he said 'In case someone comes mom, and they want to make one about me.'" After watching this documentary on the late and brilliant comedian one has to wonder if the film makers would have been better off consulting Mrs. Hicks on the basics of telling compelling stories. As fascinating a subject as Hicks unquestionably is, this documentary proves to be an extremely disappointing dusting over of Hicks' career combined with an irritating level of gloss and flashy editing techniques which show a lack of respect for the subject in favor of displaying art school editing prowess.

The problem in reviewing a documentary such as "American" is many fans of Bill Hicks already know the back story of his life and career. There have been very good documentaries and books focused on this subject that do a fine job of divulging personal stories and anecdotes, and there are many bootleg videos and even commercially available dvd's that show Hicks in action on stage. "American" chooses to pick from these readily available sources to show the viewer the kind of comedian and voice he was. There are a few more rare performances shown, and those clips are definitely the highlight in this film, but for the most part one can't help but feel that old news is being rehashed constantly.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Is there a point to all this? Lets make a point." April 10, 2011
By SJ
Format:Amazon Instant Video
If you consider yourself a fan of the late Bill Hicks then this is a must see documentary. Very well put together as you get a chronological order of the events that took place on his rise to stardom. Included some early life and behind the scene details of Hicks' trials and tribulations. I thought the beginning of the film was a little slow but things quickly picked up as Hick's career started to bloom. Production did a good job including many of Bill's early and late footage of his shows. Fan or not, I think no one will be disappointed watching this film. Its unfortunate that we do not have enough people like Bill Hicks to invoke thought as well as put a comical light on issues that may normally bring about negative feelings. R.I.P.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proud to be an American Bill Hicks fan! December 3, 2010
Format:DVD
Writing from Austin, Texas (Bill Hick's home base), I must say I am saddened and outraged that this release has not been made available here in the land of the free and the home of the brave. It is no surprise that this is a UK import - they appreciated him more over there then they ever did here. Jolly good! I doubt this will ever get a stateside NTSC release. If you have a way to play PAL DVDs, then this is manna from heaven for any Bill Hicks fan. Kudos to the film makers for this awesome tribute to Mr. William Melvin Hicks! The graphics are unique and the film is a true testament to the impact Bill Hicks has had and continues to have as his words ring truer everyday.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Amazon Instant Video
I saw it tonight on its second US release after NYC and before LA, in a small bar in Denton, Texas, surrounded by about 50 Bill Hicks fans, and if you get a chance to see it like that, do so. Next best, invite a few fans over to watch it, and rent it as Video on Demand.

It is an outstanding documentary, and it deserves to win all sorts of awards. And for true fans who think they have all the CDs and videos, you'll find enough new material to satisfy you as well.

Where are you now, Bill, when we need you so much? You're in this movie, and maybe you can still inspire people to stand up and be counted.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great dose of truth telling August 12, 2013
Format:Amazon Instant Video
I enjoyed this and have been wanting to watch for a while.

Hicks is one of those comedians that is a true mirror to our ridiculousness. He is someone that doses out tough love that we all need to hear and absorb. Plan on watching again.

And go buy his albums.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sorry to say, this one didn't do much for me October 14, 2011
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
I am a very big fan of Bill Hicks, and I think that the man was a visionary years ahead of his time. This documentary however seemed to shed less insight into his past than it did give the opinions of his friends. I know that having read the book, seen the Sane Man and other Bill Hicks DVD and that there probably isn't a heck of a lot more to learn so my expectations may have been too high. I'd say that this is worth renting but I'd stray awy from purchasing it unless you are a mega-fan buying it to fulfill a completionist urge.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pick Up the Gun June 28, 2011
By iix
Format:DVD
Fantastic documentary. I was much too young to enjoy Bill when he was here. Thankfully... my older brother introduced me to Bill, not literally, when I was a teenager. It was interesting to see his roots, who his friends were, what he did, and what happened in the end. I loved the style as it is a beautiful film visually. Very insightful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Culmination of a Bill Hicks Odyssey June 25, 2011
Format:Blu-ray
I approached this film half expecting a cash-in, as Bill Hicks' legacy seems to have become a lucrative commodity for some (e.g. 2003's Shock & Awe).

Happily, this is not the case & the film seems to be both a genuine and sincere homage to the man himself, but also a real attempt to bring something fresh & unseen to fan-boys (such as myself).

The plot is fairly simple - it starts off with his early years and ends with his death from cancer. In the process, they place each of the DVD's and CD's in context & show lots of interview clips of fellow comedians, friends & family.

So far, so predictable.

The great thing about this film though is that they have included many, many pieces of unseen footage & have strived to put him in the context of fellow comedians (all of whom are excellent - e.g. Jimmy Pineapple (esp the 'I am 'it'' routine))

The most original contribution that the film maker's have made is to take all the 100's of photos of Bill & turned them into action-stills. A lot of the material by the man is the same, but he always had a gift of being photogenic and hence this factor symbolises the director's efforts to bring something new to the table.

By no means is this film perfect & I have heard some people say 'It's not that good', but not from anyone who's actually seen it.
One thing I can pick out is that there is nothing about his relationships or Girlfriends that were so formative to much of his comedy (e.g. his Fiance Colleen McGarr).
There is also the fact that the film ends with the 'It's Just a Ride' scene, which is fast becoming cliche (e.g. Zeitgeist).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars awesome
Everyone should get to know Bill Hicks. He may not be with us anymore, but his words still ring with truth.
Published 2 days ago by george a molina
5.0 out of 5 stars An Essential Social Critic Who Still Resonates 20 Years After his...
Title says it all, really. This film is an excellent document concerning a mad genius who was taken from us far too soon. Highly Recommended.
Published 2 months ago by Charles T. Maguire III
5.0 out of 5 stars You must see this
I love Bill hicks, so I was predisposed to like this. However, his life; his family; his friends; and his spot on point of view are depicted here even better than I had hoped. Read more
Published 8 months ago by C. Nelson
5.0 out of 5 stars Bill Hicks
This is a great DVD! I'm a big fan of Bill Hicks, having listened too all his material many times and read a few books about him i think this film has done an inspiring job telling... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Andrew
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent documentary, superb graphics, sorely missed comedian.
I grew up in Houston and had the pleasure of seeing Bill Hicks many times at the Comedy Workshop. We had no idea which comedians were going to be "on" any given night. Read more
Published 9 months ago by PoppetLady
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Hicks Bio
A detailed, balanced and loving overview of his life and work. The photo animation bothered some reviews, but it was great to see all the photos of Bill.
Published 10 months ago by James F.
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously makes me miss Bill
If you remember Bill at all, this is both a stroll down memory lane and a lot of inside information a lot of fans never knew. Read more
Published 11 months ago by J. Terry
3.0 out of 5 stars OK - I did not know who he was
This was something of a Lenny Bruce story, but the guy is not as vulgar. Nice story with an unhappy ending.
Published 11 months ago by Mary A Miele
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome.
Please don't listen to any of the idiots that trash talk this great documentary in any way. Buy it. Love it. Live it. Bill would totally approve. Great job to all involved. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Roland Hill
5.0 out of 5 stars Learned a lot about Bill
If you didn't like Bill Hicks, you'll be offended by almost everything he says in this film. If you liked Bill Hicks, you'll hang onto every word he says and you'll cry at the... Read more
Published 13 months ago by C Gilbert
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