American: The Bill Hicks Story
(PG-13, 1:42:39, Released 2011)
|Genres:||Documentary, Musical & Performing Arts, Comedy, Special Interest|
|Release Date:||Apr 8, 2011|
|DVD Release Date:||Jun 7, 2011|
|Starring:||Bill Hicks, Mary Hicks, Steve Hicks, Lynn Hicks, Kevin Booth, Dwight Slade, David Johndrow, James Ladmirault, John Farneti, Andy Huggins|
|Directed by:||Matt Harlock, Paul Thomas|
|Synopsis:||15 years after his death, Bill Hicks is now more popular than ever, and is widely seen as one of the best comedian of the modern era. However, in America, where he challenged institutions and accepted ways of thinking, he suffered censorship and was never truly recognized by a wide audience. In the country which enshrines freedom of speech in its constitution his story is truly about what it means to be an American. -- (c) Variance|
|Full movie details|
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Other Top Reviews
June 5, 2013
"The greatest comic of his generation. Kicked ass. Took names. Changed the game."
American: The Bill Hicks Story is a new favorite when it comes to documentaries, especially biographical documentaries. I loved the approach, with using voice over interviews over top of some great photo animation. The film is fast paced and extremely entertaining, while also being very down to earth, frank, and intelligent. We see Bill Hicks for what he was at different parts of his life as told by the ten people that knew him best from his mother to his siblings to fellow comics and friends. If you're a Bill Hicks fan, this is required viewing, and if you're not(as Bill would say), kill yourself.
Bill Hicks is easily the most interesting stand up comedian that I know of. While today's comics pepper us with the same bullshit, he was able to take that bullshit and throw true meaning into it. There's a part in the film where one of his friends says that at heart he was an activist, and if you listen to what he's saying, there's no denying that fact. He had beliefs and he voiced them through his humor.
The film chronicles Bill's life from an early age when he started really getting into comedy. We see his progression from a clean-cut, no profanity, no drugs and no drinking teenage comedian to his time with drugs and alcohol to his sobriety to his post cancer stage. Through this progression his comedy always changed. At first he was just talking about his parents and school. Then when he got into drugs and alcohol he was more of a shock comedian, and then when he got sober he became, as one interviewee said, "more than just an above average comedian."
Bill Hicks is an easy source for a documentary and American nails his life with brilliant precision. I loved every second of this and highly recommend it to anyone. If you're a fan, watch it. If you've never heard of him; this is a great place to see what he's all about and it should make you into a fan. It's a great tribute, a great film, and just a pleasure to watch.
December 29, 2011
The life story of the highly censored and controversial Comedian Bill Hicks, which is deeply detailed with contributions from friends, family and fellow comedians.
Bill Hicks seemed to be a love it or hate it type character, whose "truths" and "thoughts" were either not what everybody would think, or were what everybody would think and not say. His humour was observational, deep, but highly amusing and often near to the knuckle, he questioned authority and practiced freedom of speech. . He threw Conspiracy theory's around and shared his stories of experimentation, all of this is captured, by those who knew him the most.
September 7, 2011
Friends, family and peers on the stand-up comedy circuit share their memories of the late Bill Hicks. Well, there's not a lot to say about this. If you like Bill Hicks, you'll enjoy it a lot; if you don't like Bill Hicks, it probably won't convert you; and if you've never heard of Bill Hicks, this would make a damn near perfect introduction. Don't be put off thinking this is gonna be just another boring talking heads documentary; featuring some of the most ingenious photographic manipulation I have ever seen, it's considerably more cinematic than you might expect.
August 7, 2011
Already an admirer of the brash and certainly fearless comedian, this documentary opens up new portals of thought towards freedom of speech, what it means to be an American, and showcases the comedy of an American legend and culture icon. In the spirit of comedians George Carlin, Robin Williams, and Chris Rock, Hicks interwove the insensitive government antics of an ignorant and repulsed public with a set of comedy chops that allured the youth of the nation and made them crack a knowing grin. His sets were gritty, dirty, and hard to watch in that they were lewd and honest. Though his stage persona was an extension of himself, he delved into all the things in his life that brought about a common response in every person who attended his shows. We watch his journey from a talented newcomer on the Texas stand up scene to an obscure celebrity, not widely known but certainly followed, especially in England. His voice was that of a knowledgeable poet, and perhaps a prophet, his views not always politically correct, but at least they were well thought out and backed by more than an uniformed opinion. Certainly a fully fledged character in his own right, the documentary makes use of Hick's personal photographer, interviews with his family and friends (all too willing for the great), and footage of his sets, some well done as they are his HBO specials, and others are mere scratchy images of his times in small clubs around the country. It's a fresh take on a now old idea, but with a vibrancy that makes you sit on the edge of your seat and occasionally yell at the screen.
April 17, 2011
An intriguing look into the life of one of the most important comedians of our generation. I have been a fan of Hicks ever since I grabbed a copy of Arizona Bay about five years ago. It was raw, prescient, and often hard to swallow. This film helps to shed much needed light on such an enigmatic yet absorbing figure. It is animated, quickly paced, and always entertaining even though some parts tend to feel a bit too hagiographical.
fb100000145236770April 15, 2011
First off, big thanks to my buddy Cory for suggesting this to me. I didn't know much about Bill Hicks before watching this. I'd heard some of his act and I knew he was dead, but other than that nothing really. Now I know more about him than most other comedians. Very entertaining, informative, and funny. Above all else though, eye opening to the life of a guy who freely spoke his version of the truth and lived life the way he wanted to live it. I think this was released this year, and I can already say it will be a tough act to follow for other documentaries released in 2011.
October 17, 2010
Perfunctory autobiography which is thorough if plodding at times.
May 23, 2012
So, I'm sure some of you are wondering about this Bill Hicks person was who I keep referencing. Well, wait no more with this inspring and entertaining documentary about this very funny comedian.(For the record, I first found out about him in the pages of the comic book "Preacher" by Garth Ennis of all places, after Hicks' death in 1994.)
"American: The Bill Hicks Story" takes a different approach than a normal biographical documentary by letting friends and family exclusively tell his story, aided by some very crude animation, starting with being raised as a strict Baptist.(Again, the stricter the upbringing, the wilder the life.) From there, we get to see the early foundations of his stand up style, showing early confidence even as a teenager.(So, there is stuff here even for obsessive fans, including a bit of footage of Hicks trying to get to the Branch Davidian compound during the siege.) Over time, that evolves into the thought provoking and provocative material that he would become best known for.
Outside of his battles with drugs and alcohol, there is not that much on his personal life after he leaves home. But relax, while some material is given to his rehab, this is not a traditional weepy narrative of recovery, since he still tripped the light fantastic on psychedelic mushrooms. And I know the documentary sees it as a pity that Hicks went on the road so often to remote places with small audiences, but I look at it as a plus that he was willing to travel into hostile territory in order to confront and inform those who did not agree with him. Ironically, he was huge in Great Britain which is where this documentary is from which I also find very sad.
January 7, 2011
Documentary about the life and death of Bill HIcks, aggressive dissembler of bullshit in all its forms. This doesn't show much of his stand-up - but I guess you've got the videos & albums for that. Made in a cut-and-paste style to keep it watchable, with lots of old photos and clips going way back to make you feel like you're getting the true story. Though as its fully endorsed by the HIcks family, you might need to take some of the rosy glow with a spoonful or two of salt.
fb25827189August 26, 2011
Such a fantastic, moving, and thought-provoking homage to one of the greatest comedians to ever grace a stage.
July 5, 2011
Bill Hicks is the most important comic of the 20th century, Here's proof.
December 13, 2012
Deftly edited, this documentary gives a great look at the career of a hilarious comedian who was sadly taken from us too soon.
For those who aren't familiar with the man's work, this is a great primer, for fans it will be a fun walk down memory lane and fill in any gaps you might have in your history of the man's career.
December 31, 2011
Most of this documentary is the manipulation of still-photographs into a digital-motion comic presentation about the life of a (perhaps) not so-well-known comedian.
This film was recommended to me a while back, and like most things I initially reject, it took me a while to actually get in the right mood or mindset to try it. However, I do recall watching the trailer for this movie before dismissing it, and can remember feeling repulsed by some of the stand-up bits presented in it. And my feelings for those bits throughout this film - when I did finally watch it - were consistent.
Basically, it seems like this comedian never got past that hurdle of growing up (granted, he died at the age of 32) where one realizes that they cannot control their circumstances, they can only control their response... Much of the anger that is present in his comedy reflects this notion, which is also conveyed by the film when describing Bill's struggles with becoming successful in mainstream American entertainment.
If you look at any mainstream American comedian over the last few decades, you'll notice either a change in their comedy-style... or a narrowing of their appeals towards a certain target audience... as their careers grow. But most of Bill's success came from outside the United States, where there was an audience for making fun of American culture. Quite possibly, he could have gone on to be a very successful comedian in America, had he overcome this barrier. Unfortunately, Bill did not have the luxury of time to cater his act, while still maintaining the integrity of his ideas, towards Americans.
Personally, I did not care for much of his act... Because, while I do sympathize with several of his viewpoints, his delivery was not on par with many other successful comedians I've listened to... I believe the film even mentions that his persona related more to activism than it did to comedy, and that's probably what put me off the most about this individual; he seemed more like a protester at an open-mic contest. There are several other popular comedians I can think of that remind me of activists (specifically, Margaret Cho), where most of their act is just criticizing social injustices and cultural standards. However, the main difference between these popular comedians and Bill Hicks was both timing and finding a target audience.
Again, Bill Hicks could have been a great comedian, but should this movie be seen in order to appreciate that thought?... Maybe so, but I don't personally recommend it.
November 12, 2010
This spectacular documentary/tribute to Bill Hicks narrated by his family & close friends is an informative and entertaining journey through the way too short but full life of the stand-up comic legend. The nearly two hour retrospective shows the life of Bill Hicks in photos, home movies, early stand-up performances to network comedy specials. I am a huge Bill Hicks fan and a fan of documentaries in general but really what made this film stand out for me was it's keen blending of 3-D photos, narraration, and background animation. The best way to describe it was it was like sitting down with Hick's family & friends and having them read a moving pop up book about Bill's life. This is just a really good film that gets an ultimate high recommendation from me.