American: The Bill Hicks Story
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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.
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
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2 disks packed full of over 5 hours of extra footage! Tons of extra/extended interviews and a big handful of featurettes (short-films). This Blu-ray was made with love, and it shows. It instantly became one of my most cherished possessions.
Thank-you Kevin Booth and to everyone who helped make that project possible! I was a fan of bills for nearly 10 years before that docu came out, and every time I watch it I enjoy it immensely. You really are good at the documentary thing! I encourage you to not give up that gig.
I have the "Sane Man" and the "bill hicks Live" dvds, and I feel like this completes my Bill Hicks essentials video library. I am very grateful for this release. Buy it while you can!
His message is still highly relevant today. Perhaps, even more relevant now considering the state of the world. It's tragic that we lost him at such a young age. He was only 32 when he died, but he gave so much to the world during his brief time on earth. His comedy makes you laugh, makes you think and helps you to wake up. Anyone who encourages you to think for yourself and question authority is a hero in my book and Bill really does speak the truth fearlessly while making you piss your pants in laughter at the same time.
The documentary is excellent. It's very well done and provides some wonderful insight into Bill's formative years, his family, his rise to fame (albeit cut short before his popularity could really take off) and his philosophy on life and living.
Bill Hicks really was an American patriot in the true sense of the word and so much more. Dare I say, he was prophetic. This documentary is totally worth watching and owning too. Get it. Watch it. You won't regret it.
They didn't show his memorable freak outs against hecklers and didn't even showcase some of his best jokes in the film. I thought that this documentary would contain interviews and footage and show more of what a brilliant comedian Bill was. Instead, it's just a narrated, animated story that drags on for too long on useless details.It wasn't interesting, the pacing was awfully slow, and there really wasn't much of a story to tell.
What this documentary needed to include was more footage of Bill Hicks in general, not this campy, animated garbage that we were presented with. I was hoping this video would make my girlfriend more interested in this comedian, instead it put her to sleep while I watched and wondered why I wasted my money on this.
If you want more Bill Hicks, watch his stand up routines. There's no story to tell here except that he died tragically young and was under appreciated by his own country.
"Is the truth too much to ask for?"
Open your eyes and take a ride with Bill Hicks - he could change your life.