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145 of 155 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly Goddamn Delightful
I have to believe that if you are off-put by Crumb's art (the headless women with monstrous thighs; the caricatures of blacks as wild jungle-dwellers), or find his frank admissions of "perverse" sexual attractions uncomfortable, or find yourself with a wardrobe full of San Francisco 49er memorabilia, then you will be put off by Crumb's character as well...
Published on August 13, 2001 by Mike Stone

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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars On behalf of Charles...
I own this film and I must say that I like Robert Crumb's taste in the blues and I share a lot of his views about the shallowness of American culture. He's a purist, creatively brilliant, and holds to his artistic values. Nevertheless, I couldn't help feeling that I would like to have seen him have the presence of mind to "lower" himself enough and get paid outrageously...
Published on February 21, 2004


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145 of 155 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfectly Goddamn Delightful, August 13, 2001
This review is from: Crumb [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I have to believe that if you are off-put by Crumb's art (the headless women with monstrous thighs; the caricatures of blacks as wild jungle-dwellers), or find his frank admissions of "perverse" sexual attractions uncomfortable, or find yourself with a wardrobe full of San Francisco 49er memorabilia, then you will be put off by Crumb's character as well.
I'm not. He's fascinating.
Director Terry Zwigoff gets a lot of mileage out of Crumb's reactions to situations. Whether it's the confused and perplexed look he gets from watching the parade of shallow consumers he sees on the streets, or his half-sincere/half-uncomfortable bursts of laughter following bizarre tales from his youth, Crumb's expressive face says more than his mouth ever could. This, combined with his wonderfully laid-back voice (at once sarcastic and self-deprecating and tinged with regret) makes me wonder why it's taken so long for this man to get some camera time. Self-imposed exile, I suppose. He's definitely a star.
The opening sequence over the credits is the lone contrived moment in an otherwise truthful film. It begins by showing a series of porcelain sculptures modeled on Crumb's most recognizable characters, followed by a shadowy shot of Robert, sitting in a near-fetal position, listening to one of his many old time blues records. It is the only moment in the film that feels fake, and threatens to ruin the film's credibility right from the starting gate. Thankfully, director Zwigoff has a perfect game the rest of the way.
And there is only one moment that puts objectivity aside and allows for a bit of commentary on the part of the filmmakers. It concerns an interview with Deirdre English, a former editor of the magazine 'Mother Jones'. She gives her opinion (along with shown examples) of Crumb's supposed racism. Zwigoff precedes this with footage of Crumb complaining that the only people who found these comics offensive were white liberals, e.g. Ms. English herself. Otherwise, Zwigoff uses an even hand in his portrayals.
Other than the legacy Crumb will leave with his innovative work, the film focuses heavily on his family life (or lives).
What the heck was in the water at the Crumb house? Besides Robert and his well-known proclivities, his lesser known siblings have serious problems of their own. Older brother Charles, still living at home with his overbearing mother at the time the film was shot, admits to a severe reliance on tranquilizers, and baths biannually. Younger brother Maxon (whose role in the Crumb boys' childhood comics company was "supply boy"), lives alone in a dive hotel and spends his days cleansing his colon with a long strip of cloth while sitting on a bed of nails (two sisters declined to be interviewed). Upon seeing the devastating dysfunction of the apples that fell from the Crumb family tree, one begins to wonder not how odd Robert turned out, but rather how normal. It's the film's most startling revelation.
Some of the most touching moments are those of Crumb with his own kids. Young daughter Sophie, the only woman Crumb's ever loved, receives her fathers gentle affection willingly. Son Jesse sports the costume of the hippies that Crumb so despised (long hair and dirty beard), but his artistic talent more than makes up for this transgression in his father's eyes. One moment has the two men competing in a contest to best reproduce a photo of an ugly insane woman. Contrast the unsettling subject matter of the photo, with Robert's sincere artistic advice to his son on how to draw out its interesting elements, and you get a wonderful scene of iconoclastic domesticity.
"Crumb", the film, like Crumb, the artist, manages to combine humour and tragic sadness in a cohesive whole. It is at once repellent and mesmerizing, encompassing nearly every aspect of humanity. From the perverse to the pleasant, it all seems somewhat, well, Natural. A truly astonishing feat from a truly astonishing documentary film.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We'll Take The Crumbs., May 30, 2002
By 
F. Gentile (Lake Worth, Florida, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Crumb [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Robert Crumb is SO anti-social, that you almost want not to praise him or the film, as it would most likely elicit only contempt and disgust from him at your pathetic interests. But he's such a talented, not to mention twisted (I mean that as a compliment) artist, that you have to admire him. While his style, and his hysterical, irreverent characters, are not for everyone, his honesty pervades all his work. He's famous, but deplores the celebrity, phoniness, and notoriety that fame brings. While not exactly surly, he begrudgingly acknowledges that some people like his work, the work being created for basically his own amusement. That the work pays for his treasured relative anonymity and elusive privacy is a bitter irony. I love good documentaries, though there's not that many, and this is one of my favorites. It's just a very intrusive but irresistable visit into Crumbs little world, where his art and beloved records of the 1920's and 30's are his obsessions (along with sex), the materialistic, vulgar society that he's forced to co-exist with of little interest to him. You also get to meet his bizarre family who probably isn't really any more bizarre than many others. I especially get a kick out of his refusing to sign autographs in the movie, as I have a treasured copy of his "Zap" comix, which he inscribed to me. This is a must see film for anyone who's a fan of the creator of "Fritz The Cat", "Zap Comix", Janis Joplins "Cheap Thrills" famous album cover, etc... His "R. Crumbs Coffee Table Art Book " is a great accompaniment to this movie, his dialogue that accompanies his comics hysterical and sometimes too familiar. A great glimpse into a very interesting, unique talent. Some people work hard to appear "eccentric", but he's the real thing, though he still gives off a gentleness and likability. Admire the man, just leave him alone.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ., June 17, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Crumb [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Crumb is an awe-inspiring film when weighed against some of the more acclaimed "thought-provoking" films I've seen recently: it probes into SO much that is significant (the nature of art, the nature of madness, the nature of sexuality and sexual perversion, the nature of American society, the implications of American history of the last 50 years or so -- the list goes on); but, in part because it's a documentary, all of this rich material is just *there*--it isn't being shoved in your face and manipulated for effect in the fashion of more popular "thought-provoking" films. The film is honest and unflinching; it doesn't glorify Crumb, nor does it denigrate him--(we hear from great appreciators of his work as well as severe critics, and neither side is emphasized or made to seem more valid than the other)--it simply explores him, and his very bizarre family, for what he/they are, while subtley setting everything that we learn against the backdrop of American society as a whole during the last century.
In terms of being a documentary for those curious about Crumb and his work, it doesn't shortchange you in any way that I can see. We get to spend plenty of time with Crumb himself, of course; we also get to spend a good amount of time hearing from his wife, and ex-wife, his mother and two brothers, his friends and an associate or two, and, as I mentioned, several critics, each with their own take on Crumb's work. We also get to *see* a lot of Crumb's work by way of numerous well-edited, well-placed montages, as well as artwork by his brothers, who are themselves exceptionally talented. We learn a great deal about Crumb's youth, attitude, hang-ups, perversions, artistic status, and anxieties.
This alone would be great, but what pushes the film even further up the ladder is the clever but straightforward, unembellished way the movie forces us to take the information we receive--all the aforementioned perversions, anxieties, etc.--and *relate* it back to the society from whence it came. This theme, this connection, is not belabored, but it is tangibly there, and it is very true that while Crumb and his family are the subjects of the film, they are also serving as complex vehicles for much broader, more universal themes and questions. But all of this is done without a trace of pretention.
As if this wasn't enough, the soundtrack is absolutely A++, culled from Crumb's own collection of old records. It is well-chosen and well-used, enhancing the atmosphere and drily emotive moments of the film, but w/o being the slightest bit intrusive.
I liked this film the first time I saw it a couple years back, but seeing it again recently just really floored me. Truly a fantastic and greatly underappreciated movie. The Academy's failure to offer it any recognition says a great deal about their thematic agenda. But who cares about the Academy anyhow? I highly recommend Crumb. Even if you know nothing about him, and your interest suffers for that--I guarantee you'll still find this worth your while. Powerful without trying, touching without being sentimental or manipulative, disturbing without celebrating the fact, and profound without being pretentious. Genuinely superb.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Docudrama..one of the best..however.., January 11, 2005
By 
Jesse Crumb (Eureka, CA. USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Crumb (DVD)
Well..this review is part ego..part truth..but I figure you need to know...this movie..cost some of those involved uhh..their sanity..for starters....I now spend 6 hours driving to therapy in S.F. from Eureka...every week..people came out of the wood work after the film...that was great..real ego rush, lot's of money was made...I sold all the artwork I had done to that point, Sketch books...portraits...now..I am frozen, have been for a few years..(coming out of it now..finally...starting to paint) I call...paralysis of the will..and it's been 10 years...seems like longer..I was unprepared..and the aftermath..well they don't tell you what to do..and your 24 or so, young...stupid..lucky..can be a great combo..or a deadly one..it's been good and bad..but Terry he did an excellent job...he made one of the best "reality based" pieces ever..and way ahead of the times..unfortunately he dis-likes me quite allot now...we were friends once..I used to stay at his place whenever I was in the city...we would go eat burritos and maybe track Max down, go to yard sales and move furniture around his pad...it's all over now..a double edged sword Terry's film...double edged...love the ego rush...but the mind was messed up just the same...but it is one of the best documentaries ever made...it really is..and I say that with the objectivity born of dislike for many of the people involved...you can trust me because I have nothing to gain by saying this..and nothing to lose...this is a great laugh too...a great "black Comedy" if you liked "the Plot against Harry"(coming out..unbelievably in February..I think...great movie..) or "A shock to the System" you'll love this..it should have been like "Blair witch" a phony production...that would have made it even better...but I have yet to see a documentary as good..well that's it for now..my ego rush for today..best wish's...and watch out..reality T.V. isn't all it's cracked up to be...
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep on Truckin'..., May 23, 2004
By 
M. Casarino (Wilmington, DE United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crumb (DVD)
"Crumb" is the sad and funny documentary of a damaged man who happened to find a beautiful and reasonably lucrative outlet for his peccadilloes. It's also the brutal portrait of two men - Robert's brothers - who were not so lucky.
"Crumb" offers amazing access to R. Crumb and his family, but the man himself remains an enigma - an entertaining and fascinating enigma, but an enigma nonetheless. Still, Zwigoff's probing camera gets behind the man and his art, his fans and detractors, and delivers a wonderful portrait of the man and a great appreciation of his work - even his most off-putting, misogynistic work.
But it's when Zwigoff talks to Robert's family that we see the true effects of a horrible, and horror-filled, childhood. Both of his brothers are intelligent and considerably talented, but they were unable to find a healthy outlet to escape a tyrannical father (his abuse is only hinted at in the movie), and their stories are deeply affecting - and difficult to watch.
So "Crumb" is either life-affirming or terribly depressing. I vote for the first option, which is why I'm the proud owner of the DVD. You wont find a much better documentary, or a more powerful drama, than "Crumb."
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original not widescreen, May 19, 2006
By 
This review is from: Crumb (Special Edition) (DVD)
I won't go into how brilliant this film is, as many other people have done that already, but I wanted to make a bit of a correction...

This was a low-budget film that was never shot in widescreen, so, if a DVD of this movie was released in widescreen, THAT would be the "ripoff," since they'd have to crop part of the film to make it widescreen. True, when you play this DVD, a screen comes up saying that the film "has been modified to fit your screen," or something like that, but I suspect what that's referring to is the fact that the original aspect ratio was 1.37:1 (according to the IMDb site), the standard non-widescreen ratio for film, which means it was trimmed VERY slightly to fit the 1.33:1 aspect ratio of a standard TV screen. This is standard practice, and, since the difference is so slight, almost nothing is lost.

I just waned to reassure people who might be put off by the fact that this DVD is not widescreen that the ORIGINAL wasn't widescreen, either, so this is NOT a ripoff...
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, tragic, depressing -- and singularly fascinating, October 9, 2006
This review is from: Crumb (Special Edition) (DVD)
I really don't know what to make of this film. When you first start watching Crumb, you wonder why anyone would ever want to watch something this odd, but after about twenty minutes you realize that you couldn't stop watching it if you wanted to - and you don't want to. The world of Robert Crumb, a pioneer in the world of underground comics, is as disturbing as it is fascinating - and that is exactly what Crumb is, a documentary about the life of this man and his family. It gives you a disarmingly honest look inside the man's mind, and I'm not sure anyone can really describe what we discover. In all honesty, I had never heard of Robert Crumb nor seen any of his work (although Fritz the Cat does ring a bell) before - that work is eye-opening to say the least, and you get to see a lot of it during the documentary. Much of it is misogynistic and arguably racist, so I'm sure Crumb fans and anti-fans alike will be most interested in this artist's direct insight into his work. Crumb is a compulsive artist who draws almost constantly, and one gets the sense that it is the only thing keeping him from crossing a line into madness.

This is a really strange man, basically a recluse who never seems comfortable with himself or anyone else - it's quite amazing he would allow a film crew in to follow him around for such a significant amount of time. He's not shy about discussing any part of his life or his work, however, taking us all the way back to his childhood. The man's artistic talents, even as a child, are undoubtedly extraordinary and certainly unique in terms of the exaggerated way he tends to draw things, especially people. Critics on both sides discuss the demeaning, borderline sadistic manner in which he has depicted women at different times in his career, and Crumb readily admits that he has some inward hostility toward women (although he has married twice and is the father of two children). On some issues, though, particularly when it comes to charges of racism, he tends to dance around the questions, passing some of the criticism off as an effect of his drug use in the 1960s.

The most poignant aspect of the film, however, is the story of Crumb's family. In many ways, this is a descent into mental illness - and it's poignantly tragic. Crumb and his siblings obviously grew up in a dysfunctional family with a particularly puritan, abusive father. His two sisters chose not to be interviewed for this film, but we do meet brothers Charles and Maxon along with Crumb's mother. Charles still lives at home, never leaves the house, and has been dependent on medications for many years (his problems apparently include depression, suicidal tendencies, and homicidal thoughts), while Maxon (who has a record of molesting women) seems to be far too disturbed to live on his own as he does. The interviews with Crumb and his brothers are the centerpiece of this documentary, if you ask me, and it's just a terribly sad thing to watch.

Just as Crumb's comics are what they are, Crumb is who he is, as seems clear from the details of this documentary. In some ways, he is incomprehensible and rather repulsive, yet you can't really dismiss or dislike him too much just because he's so darn fascinating and different from the rest of mankind. I think those with an interest in psychology will actually get more out of this film than most of Crumb's fans and critics.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mondo Bizarro, December 22, 2007
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This review is from: Crumb (Special Edition) (DVD)
When I was a teenager growing up in San Diego, R Crumb's comic books were available in every head shop. It was a lot hipper to have a stack of Crumb's work stashed away in your room than it was to have a Playboy or a Penthouse. Crumb's work was misogynistic, sexist, racist, and about as politically incorrect in every way that it could be yet it was the toast of the counterculture.
I was visiting friends in Las Vegas when Crumb was first released and saw it while I was there. It made such an impression that I put it on my list of DVDs to own and finally got around to getting my copy this year.
Robert Crumb is nothing if not bizarre. On watching the interviews with him, some of his family members, his friends and others around him I got the feeling that his perverted talents developed because of his dysfunctional upbringing rather than despite it. The raw talent was always there, it is just a twist of fate and mind that propelled him to fame as the foremost cartoonist of his generation.
Think what you will of his subject matter, his work is undoubtedly great. Crumb taps into a vein of humor that springs from the darkest corners of his imagination and brings it to life in such a way that we can laugh while simultaneously being repelled. Nothing is taboo to Crumb, in fact he seems to revel in the most degenerate imagery. And to think that he is the most normal of the family members who were interviewed for this documentary! Incredibly, both of his brothers proved weirder than he, the one who still lived at home reminds the viewer of Goober from the Andy Griffith Show only stranger. David Lynch could hardly imagine an odder lot for one of his odder movies. (Crumb's sisters declined to be interviewed for the film, probably out of embarassment).
Since I enjoy Crumb's work, I found it interesting to discover the things that made him the kind of guy he is. His awkward relations with women undoubtedly color the way he depicts them and its funny that while some of the women interviewed are appalled, others are more philosophical. The film didn't touch on his relations with blacks although his cartoons feature black characters in the crudest caricature imaginable. That I find very ironic, because one of Crumb's lifelong obsessions has been the promotion and preservation of early black music, particularly the blues.
R Crumb is pure mondo bizarro. If you are easily offended, then this documentary is definitely not for you. However, if you are a fan of one of the greatest and most controversial illustrators of the second half of the twentieth century and would like to find out what makes him tick, you may find this film to be quite a revelation.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great documentary, February 16, 2001
This review is from: Crumb [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Fascinating film about the comic artist and his work, whose ideas revolutionized underground comics in the 60's, and whose influence is still being felt today. Even so notable an art historian as Robert Hughes says Crumb is the Bosch or Brueghel of our age. Based on this film, I would say Robert is actually the most normal of the three sons! He is also surprisingly articulate about his work in addition to his great artistic abilities. Despite the off-beat subject matter, I found this to be one of the finest documentaries I've ever seen. There is not one dull moment in the entire film, and some of the scenes are truly memorable. Definitely worth your attention if you haven't seen it yet.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best films ever made., August 8, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Crumb [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Although technically a documentary, "CRUMB" works on so many levels that I just have to simply call it a great Film - it's hilarious, it's moving, it's entertaining, hypnotic, mesmerizing, and brilliant. Don't miss it! My biggest disappointment is that the DVD version is not a great transfer - looks actually slightly worse than my VHS copy.
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Crumb (Special Edition)
Crumb (Special Edition) by Terry Zwigoff (DVD - 2006)
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