American: The Bill Hicks Story, a documentary review

A documentary review written by: Lee Sonogan

1hr42min (2009)Biography, documentary, animation

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Rewatching one of Bill Hicks stand up specials, and this documentary about his life, he truly was ahead of his time. In the early nineties, Hicks was diagnosed with cancer shortly after he decided to clean himself up, coming off alcohol. If you learn more about Bill Hicks, you wonder what could have been. Using a personal photo-animated technique, it is narrated by ten people who knew Bill best.

This documentary is deep, sad, fun, and fascinating. It took 3 years to compile all the material for this documentary. When co-director Matt Harlock gained the confidence of Bill Hicks’s family, he was given access to 1300 photos and lots of unseen footage. Awards won include The Dallas Film Festivals Texas Filmmaker Award, The Oxford American’s Best Southern Film Award, and Best Documentary at the Downtown LA Film Festival.

Everyone has a type of favourite comedian. Bill Hicks perfectly embodies what I enjoy in stand-up. This documentary is more than a collection of comedy bits. Hicks lived what he said. And what he lived is full of interesting stories and the reality of his influence to everyone he connected with. The ending is what you could assume from his death. I recommend this documentary to all fans of stand up stand up comedy and social/political commentary.


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