This film can be - and has been - criticized for being too much of a puff piece, too much "old news," and not sufficiently insightful into the meaning of Norman Lear's life. But for those who know him and his work - both artistic and political - well enough but not intimately, this is a great overview of Lear and his accomplishments.
Still fully intact both physically and mentally at 93, Lear has much to offer through his own interviews, and ANY movie that simply catalogs his career would be worth seeing. From early Martin-Lewis writer through All in the Family and Maude through his Good Times misstep to his "retirement" from TV and creation of People for the American Way, Lear's career was unparalleled. As Jon Stewart and others put it in the film, there was TV Before Norman and After Norman.
But this documentary does more. The skill of the filmmakers is obvious, and they leave their imprint - and Lear's famous and unusual hat - throughout this enjoyable film. While it's respectful and loving, it's not worshipful. There's focus on his absence as a father and husband, his difficult relationship with his own father, and the Good Times cast's serious concerns about racial stereotyping. The directors chose excellent clips from the most important shows, including the Maude abortion episodes and some truly extraordinary acting from Carol O'Connor as Archie Bunker. One Archie scene, Archie talking to "Meathead" about his own father, is particularly poignant, as we watch Lear watching Archie.
A worthwhile hour and a half with an American icon, still going strong.
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