American: The Bill Hicks Story

"Very Good"

American: The Bill Hicks Story Review


Piecing together a remarkable story from first-hand accounts, still photos and grainy video footage, filmmakers Harlock and Thomas assemble a gripping narrative documentary about a modern-day prophet.

Bill Hicks grew up in Houston with his pals Dwight and Kevin. His deeply religious mother Mary always knew there was something different about him, as did his older siblings Lynne and Steve. And indeed, by the time he was a teen, he and his friends were sneaking off to comedy clubs, where Bill quickly built a reputation as a funny and very outspoken comic. Over the years, his reputation grew as a regular at Los Angeles' famed Comedy Store and as a recurring guest on David Letterman's show.

Typically, there is a period of drug and alcohol abuse in his story, but it was after this that he emerged with an even sharper edge, taking on political taboos and speaking out with sometimes brutal candour against government hypocrisy and, most notably, the culture of marketing and advertising that erodes personal freedom. "It's all about money, not freedom," he said predicting both the War on Terror and the Homeland Security business. And he also took on pop culture, asking, "When did mediocrity become a role model?"

Amazingly, he said all of this before 1994, when he died from cancer at age 32.

And the filmmakers use a terrific archive of stills and home video to tell the story. Many of these images are cleverly tinkered with to add animation and context, which gives the film a sharp visual tone to go with Hicks' sharp words. Even his most uneven, drug-addled performances still sting with blunt honesty. So it's a little frustrating that, with all of the off-screen voices, we're not always clear who's talking.

Beyond Hicks' genius for finding humour in every situation, what emerges over the course of this film is a challenging message about standing up for what's right. This is especially potent now, when dissent is seen as traitorous and partisan politics have replaced real governance. As one person notes about Hicks, a true patriot criticises the state in the name of truth. And his most enduring message is that life is a choice between fear and love.



American: The Bill Hicks Story

Facts and Figures

Genre: Documentaries

Run time: 102 mins

In Theaters: Friday 8th April 2011

Box Office USA: $90.3k

Box Office Worldwide: $90.3 thousand

Distributed by: Variance Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 82%
Fresh: 47 Rotten: 10

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Matt Harlock,

Producer: Matt Harlock,

Starring: Lynn Hicks as Herself

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.