It’s been almost exactly three years since Anthony Bourdain left us on June 8th, 2018, and for many the vibrant, no-nonsense and big-hearted foodie and adventurer has left a gap in his wake; a celebrity both relatable and so, so much cooler and interesting than you or I could hope to be. It’s with the new feature documentary Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain that filmmaker Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?) looks to turn his lens to the irreplaceable rascal of cuisine.
“It was almost never about food, it was about Tony learning to be a better person.” The new trailer for Roadrunner might look to tell us what we already know: That Bourdain was a world-traveler and lover of cultures underground and widespread, bearing no prejudice and calling society’s bluffs when they came forward. “Are you happy,” Bourdain asks in the trailer. Roadrunner looks to get at the core of what made Bourdain such an enigmatic, likeable icon for many, indulging our fantasies of traveling far and wide and eating everything under the sun, but also distilling the chef’s down-to-earth fascination and respect for human life into a feature film.
Having found great success with subjects like Tata Vega and Darlene Love in 20 Feet from Stardom (which won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature) and the ever-friendly Fred Rogers in Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Neville’s tackling of someone as beloved as Bourdain feels appropriate, though certainly no short order; the proximity to his death and how fresh he remains in the public conscious will likely leave Roadrunner with some strong critics.
Nonetheless the new trailer makes for a good time in itself, promising, at the very least, a heartfelt epilogue of sorts to Bourdain’s Parts Unknown. We shall see when Roadrunner hits theaters July 16th, 2021.