Classic Film Review: American: The Bill Hicks Story

Full Title: American: The Bill Hicks Story
Director(s): Matt Harlock and Paul Thomas
Year: 2009
Comments: Bill Hicks has been my personal hero since I was young enough to act out Goat Boy and it wasn’t sketchy. Well, that’s not true, Goat Boy was always sketchy. But, horniness aside, American does an amazing job of recreating Bill’s world for all of his fans to appreciate every nuance that made Bill Bill. Using a cut and paste style of animation (really something I and several other viewers have never seen before), the movie literally recreates the special events of Bill’s life. The whole documentary is actual stills of the people, places, and perceptions that mattered the most to Bill. Over these images we hear the voices of the characters that shaped our hero’s story the greatest. Everyone from best friend/music and film collaborator Kevin Booth to Bill’s mother the proper, sweet Mary Hicks. I think that’s what separates this documentary from others; the fact that it is so personal, with all the interviews coming from people who knew Bill very personally, instead of just random celebrities. Despite the caustic, dark, and savage comedy of Mr. Hicks, with this film we see Bill’s true vision to its greatest potential, we realize how amazing and unique Bill was (like we didn’t already?). This film and the people in it articulate Bill’s message of love, laughter, and the truth in some ways better than he ever did. This is a rather affectionate documentary and honestly, as a fan, I couldn’t ask for more. I’m so glad to see the “Dark Poet” get so much respect and admiration. At the end of the day, while I totally enjoyed this feature, very little of it was new to me, but that’s not so much a flaw of the film, but more of a case of my excessive fandom. I’d seriously recommend this to fans and non-fans alike, but for die-hards, I’d say from my experience Kevin Booth’s autobiography, Agent of Evolution (2004) is the most detailed account of Bill’s life. In general, watch and/or listen to Bill’s comedy itself- it’s life altering, life affiriming, and best of all just plain fucking hilarious.

In the spirit of Bill.

Grade: 9/10

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