American: The Bill Hicks Story – Movie Review – 2011

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Paying Tribute to a Favorite Comedian

Bill Hicks, the famed American comedian and musician who died of cancer in 1994 at age 32, lives on in this documentary that uses archival footage of his childhood and his funny and irreverent stand up routines, as well as animated family photos and interviews with friends and colleagues to chronicle the comedian’s life and career.

An Influential Career Cut Short

Bill Hicks, who grew up in a strict Southern Baptist family environment, used his home life as fodder for stand up comedy routines from the time when he was still in high school. He was a teenager when he, working with Dwight Slade, began his professional career in small comedy clubs. He was so funny, irreverent and unusual in style that comedians twice his age and with double his experience came to watch him work. He toured extensively and did guest appearances on TV shows, and had a huge following of dedicated fans.

As his career progressed, Hicks pushed his boundaries by using his stand up routines to comment on what he considered to be the outrageously repressive aspects of American culture, politics and economics.

His opinions and behavior, for a period fueled by alcohol and drug use, were quite controversial and criticized in the US, but Hicks’ style, humor and social commentary were highly lauded abroad. He’d considerably cleaned up his act and was on the verge of breaking through to American mainstream audiences when he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer in 1993. He died in 1994, at age 32.

Filmmakers Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas pay tribute to Hicks in this documentary which uses archival footage, animated photos and on camera interviews to chronicle the artist’s life and career. The film certainly captures Hicks’ personality and clearly represents his point of view and satirical way of handling issues that deeply troubled him. Hicks influenced other comics who use humor to stimulate debate about current events and our social millieu.

If You Like This Film, You Might Also Like:

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
Razzle Dazzle
Hats Off
Meat Loaf: In Search of Paradise
Runnin’ Down A Dream: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Film Details

Title: American: The Bill Hicks Story
Directors: Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas
Release Date: April 8, 2011 (limited theatrical release)
Running Time: 101 mins.
MPAA Rating: Not rated
Parents Advisory: Content advisory for parents for strong language and drug content.
Locations: Throughout the USA and around the world, in locations where Hicks lived and performed.
Language: English
Distribution: Variance Films

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