dark        

Tribeca Capsule Review: Gilbert

0

The kindness of dick joke artists

Before sitting down to watch Gilbert, I was afraid the documentary would take away from Gilbert Gottfried's mystique. I always loved his impersonations and appearances on Howard Stern, and his dirty jokes have such craft behind them, elevating bad taste to an art form. Yet Gottfried is such a private person, and rarely offers glimpses into his personal life. For the longest time, he was an impenetrable wall of shouting, squinting, and dick jokes.

My fear was that Neil Berkeley's documentary would rob Gottfried's persona of its abrasive power. At one point of the film, Gottfriend expresses similar anxieties, alluding to the "man behind the curtain" moment from The Wizard of Oz.

Those fears were unfounded, however. Instead of breaking Gottfried as a stage persona, Gilbert deepens and humanizes the man while simultaneously enhancing what he does on stage. I find him much kinder and thoughtful thanks to the film. Also, I find him much, much weirder, both in an endearing way and a perplexed way.

[This review is part of our coverage of the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, which runs from April 19th to April 30th in New York City. For tickets and more information about the festival, click here.]

Gilbert
Director: Neil Berkeley
Rating: TBD
Release Date: TBD

The fact that Gilbert Gottfried is happily married, has two great kids, and leads a relatively idyllic domestic life is so bizarre. He admits as much, comparing it to an episode of The Twilight Zone. His wife, Dara, is so supportive; at one point we watch Gottfried pack school lunches for his kids, complete with notes that say "I love you". Several times he appears on camera wearing a white bathrobe. His voice is a much finer grain of sand paper. His eyes, the squint relaxed, are soft and compassionate. He visits his sister in New York City often, and is there for her whenever he can be. So much vulnerability is disarming, especially all in a feature film and particularly when it's Gilbert freakin' Gottfried.

And then Dara calls during an interview. He tells her to go fuck herself, gently, caring. He hangs up and laughs that Gilbert Gottfried laugh.

Berkeley doesn't linger too long on the particulars Gottfried's life at home. He follows the comedian on the road, which reveals the many eccentricities a stable marriage can't erase. It's a hustle and a slog, and it's a major part of who Gottfried is. The guy in the bathrobe and the cheapskate at the hotel and the filthy joke maestro are all the same person. He also happens to be Iago in Aladdin. Somehow it all fits.

Eventually, because it's necessary to understand Gottfried, they talk about his "too soon" 9/11 joke and the Japanese tsunami jokes that led to the loss of his AFLAC duck gig. I mentioned earlier that Gottfried elevates bad taste to an art form, though his brand of bad taste is an acquired one. People in Gilbert mention time and again that offensive jokes can sometimes serve as a defense mechanism. When kindness alone can't alleviate pain or sadness, irreverence might help people get beyond their hurt. A willingness to bomb on stage and to offend and to persevere with perversity--those might be Gottfried's most admirable human qualities.


You are logged out. Login | Sign up

 
 

 

Gilbert reviewed by Hubert Vigilla

8

GREAT

Impressive effort with a few noticeable problems holding it back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.
How we score:  The Flixist reviews guide

 
 
 

TwitterRedditEmailFacebook
 
Hubert Vigilla
Hubert VigillaEditor-at-Large   gamer profile

Vigilla is a writer living in Brooklyn, which makes him completely more + disclosures


 



Also on Flixist: Gilbert   (0)   From our database:

  • More related stories
    Filed under... #Actors #comedy #Documentary #festival films #Reviews #Tribeca Film Festival #Tribeca Film Festival 2017

    READER COMMENTS LOADING BELOW...


    LET'S KEEP THE COMMUNITY GREAT


    You're not expected to always agree, but do please keep cool and never make it personal. Report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community team. Also, on the right side of a comment you can flag nasty comments anonymously (we ban users dishing bad karma). For everything else, contact us!



     
     
  •  
     
    spacer