Saturday, November 8, 2014


Directed By: Marina Zenovich 
Written By: Marina Zenovich, P.G. Morgan & Chris A. Peterson 
Cinematography By: Christine Burrill 
Editor: Chris A. Peterson 

Featuring: Richard Pryor, Robin Williams, Mel Brooks, Dave Chapelle, David Friedman, Mike Epps, Budd Friedman, Lonette McKee, Michael Schultz, Lily Tomlin, David Steinberg, Stan Shaw, Paul Schrader, George Lopez, Paul Mooney, Bob Newhart, Walter Moseley, Quincy Jones, Whoppi Goldberg

This documentary is a great primer on the life and career of Richard Pryor.

While one can appreciate the treasure trove of clips and long lost footage to be shown here.

It just feels like the film only scratches the surface of his life and times from witnesses, friends, family, business associates.

It never goes in too deep. It acknowledges his problems and drug addiction. Though it never gets into his truly dark side and his lees then honorable acts and decisions.

Now it doesn't white wash his history either, but it chooses I rather focus on the good times and be a celebration of his life. While I can't fault the director for that it would have been nice to get a more fair and balanced portrait and let the audience decide how to see him. Though as a condition to get these contacts and interviews maybe it was conditional that it be in a more celebratory spirit.

Then again maybe I am putting what I was seeking more from the film rather then what the final product was. As the films presents a few facts and things I had not seen. Only as I am a big Richard Pryor fan as have watched all of his films and read many different biographies of his life. I know the documentary only has a certain amount of time to present a certain amount of information. I only wish this documentary had been more fair and balanced as it would truly have shown the two sides of him. Leaving you in the audience to decide as to how to feel about him. He leaves me personally conflicted as his genius is always present, but no matter what was never good enough or satisfactory for himself. How drugs might have made him fearless and powered his rebellion to keep it real. Yet it also made him a monster personally and to those around him.

How his rough upbringing yet sensitive nature made him self-destructive and lead him into drug Abuse as a way to numb himself from his bad memories about his past. Erase it yet it all came pouring out on stage and in performance.

How his ego helped him to bring him to the forefront though once he had opportunity to write his own ticket. He made bad decisions and his out when. Was finally his chance to be revolutionary. He bowed down and sold out to a degree going against the ways he seemed to preached about when in the 70's.

All these wonderful chances the documentary could have explored ad taken a chance in observing. Instead it goes with a typical A&E type biography special. Only a bit more researched.

It's worth watching though in the end disappointing.

Grade: C+

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