Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You
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The doc finds pathos in an amiable, fluid construction that chronologically charts the career (and political) ambitions of TV producer Norman Lear.
Matt Zoller Seitz
While the film works as a primer for viewers who are curious about Lear but don’t know the details of his life and work, it’s more interesting as a movie about age and memory.
In short, the film inserts us into a solipsistic universe of Norman Lear, one that also overlaps many of the most significant social, political, and show-biz issues of the second half of the 20th century.
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
The film is poetically structured and Lear is a spry, emotionally involved participant in a lively bio-doc that succeeds eulogistically and contextually.
Generally laudatory in its approach to its irresistible human subject — if Lear’s signature white hat remains immovably on his head, the film’s stays very much in hand — this appreciation is nonetheless most fascinating in a brief stretch where the political correctness of Lear’s work is called into question by black performers.
The New York Times
Effective topical entertainment, we are reminded, rarely comes without creative conflict.
Lear remains a keen observer of his own ability to inject leftist politics into popular culture. The chief stylistic devices used to bring his experiences to life are a different story.
The Hollywood Reporter
The film feels a little too eulogistic, too reliant on hyperbole and too in love with its own gimmicks to make it more than just a serviceable crowd-pleaser.
Los Angeles Times
For a movie about the creator of some of the most pointed, controversial comedies in television history, Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You has a curious habit of sidestepping some of the thornier and more interesting aspects of its subject’s life.
Ewing and Grady insert vignettes featuring a young actor playing Lear as a 9-year-old, wandering an empty theater and trying on his analog’s signature white hat. The conceit might have sounded artful on paper, but it doesn’t work on film.
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