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American: The Bill Hicks Story
BLU-RAY disk
07.07.2011 By: J.A. Hamilton
American: The Bill Hicks Story order download
Director:
Matt Harlock, Paul Thomas

Actors:
Bill Hicks
Dwight Slade
Kevin Booth

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
This is the true story of the life and troubles of Bill Hicks, a rare and extremely intelligent mind that took the world of stand up comedy by the balls and never let go. His ten closest family members and friends share their most intimate times with him from early in life until just before he passed away joined with footage of the Bill doing what he did best.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Personally, as much as I love stand up comedy, I'd never heard of Bill Hicks prior to watching this documentary/true story. He looks vaguely familiar to me though, like I may have caught a bit of his at some point but I can't say for sure. What I can say is that I was blown away by the intelligent hilarity of this man's dark style of comedy and it's a real shame that he (like so many others) was taken during his career's prime.

When it comes to comedy, many comedians use not only their personal experiences as muses but their families as well. Eddie Murphy did it very well and Russell Peters is still doing it today. Bill Hicks was no different during his humble beginnings but it was what he evolved into that really caught my eye. When he started focussing upon real world incidents like that false messiah and his followers getting burned alive, or going on about flag burning and the government, it was then his true genius started to shine. Lots of people rant, lots of people make fun of others and situations, but the way Bill did it was much different than anything I've ever seen and I thought it was brilliant.

It's clear that Bill had talent, from watching him and his best friend Dwight entertain their fellow classmates, pulling off great stand-up shows as kids or even going on to get script writing deals, the talent was there but like so many before him and so many after, the story does take a turn for the worst with classic vices like booze, drugs and finally cancer at thirty-two, hitting him the hardest after he'd finally tamed his inner demons. His family and close friends are all very forthcoming and heartbreakingly honest here and you can tell that their emotions are running high throughout the process. Like most true stories or biographies it can get hard to watch at times because you know where the character is heading but it's a powerful story nonetheless and worth watching to the end.

AMERICAN THE BILL HICKS STORY is not the feel good movie of the year, nor is it a rip roaring comedy despite being about a comedian. Is it however a powerful tale of ambition, passion and raw determination in a "go big or go home" world. I was particularly intrigued by the whole thing on psychedelic mushrooms and their trips to the ranch. They did some serious soul searching and spirit walking and he's right when he says that countless people's of the Earth have been doing it for years as a way of seeking guidance and enlightenment but for some reason it's always painted as negative. That's quite a double edged sword of a topic but he sure does make miles of sense when he's telling it. Rest in peace Bill and don't worry, your work will definitely live on.
THE EXTRAS
Rare Clips: A bunch of material from Bill's stand-up shows guaranteed to make you laugh.

Extended Interviews: There are three hours of continued interviews from friends and family that mirror what you see in the film only with lots of new info you didn't get in the film.

Billís Personal Audio Journals: There was a lot of darkness in Hick's and though some of his demons were fought onstage it still feels a bit eerie to hear them spoken like he's talking to his diary.

Deleted and Alternate Scenes: Nothing important or relevant, it just looks like smart editing when it came down to the film's runtime.

Alternate Animation Sequences: Here we have some animated stuff that wasn't used in the final draft of the film.

Austin SXSW Panel with Billís Friends: Matt Harlock, David Johndrow, John Farneti, and James Ladmirault showcase the film at Austinís South By Southwest Festival talking about Bill and the influence his comedy had on people.

Dominion Tour: The producers and directors who did Hicksí Revelations show share their thoughts on the tour and how it came together.

Festivals in the UK and US with Hicks: A behind the scenes look at Hicksí family and the boys who made the film featuring lots more interviews and opinions.

Billís Family Visit Abbey Road: Here Bill's family goes to the iconic spot for the first time to get his recordings re-mastered.

UK 15th Anniversary Tribute: Some quick clips and footage from some of Bill's England shows.

Comedy School: Bills' best buds Dwight Slade and James Ladmirault are spilling the beans on what it takes to become a comedian. Cool, if you're looking into it.

Dwight in London: Dwight Slade reveals some of the differences between US and UK comedy.

Making of Arizona Bay: Kevin Booth shares some of Bill's comedy album and home videos.

The Ranch: A quick peek at the ranch where the boys did mushroom and were hit with cool revelations. Makes me wish I owned a ranch.

Previews: There are some theatrical trailers for the film as well as crowd reaction clips of peeps watching the documentary. I wish I'd seen his parent's original reactions the first time around.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
As I'd mentioned, I'd never really heard of Bill Hicks before now so rest assured that even if you know nothing about him, this is still a captivating flick that will leave you wanting more. This guy was one step ahead of the game when he reached his true prime and was definitely a voice you'll remember.
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