The first full trailer of ‘American: The Bill Hicks Story‘ has hit the internet, and suffice to say it looks pretty good, but despite the fanboy in me wanting to holler and yell to the world that this will be ‘The Most Important Thing You Ever Do With Your Eyes’ I have to confess that it has left me wondering precisely what the film’s aims are. For those of you unaware who the man was (kill yourself, there’s not not point in living if you haven’t) Hicks was a groundbreaking American comedian in the late 80’s and early 90’s, whose life was tragically cut short by cancer just as his career was starting to take off. Ever since his death, his body of work has been rediscovered by waves of new fans, aided by his near deification by other comics and bands like Tool, who have publicly sung his praises. But here is the point. By now, most people who would be interested are likely to have combed the internet, bought the videos, read the biographies and know pretty much all there is to know about the man. From the trailer there looks to be very little new in this documentary. A few live clips from his videos, the same talking heads that were on ‘It’s Just A Ride‘, the documentary that accompanied his ‘Revelations‘ video, and that’s about it.
There is very little left, one would assume, that’s left unseen or heard in the Bill Hicks back catalogue, especially since the two biographies, multiple live videos, and websites dedicated to transcribing his every move, and by now the average Bill Hicks fan will be hard to impress. Of course every single one of them will go to see this, both as a measure of support and to see what’s new. But will anyone else bother? Who on earth will go and see a documentary film about a comedian they’ve never heard of?
Perhaps I am being harsh. It certainly looks on the basis of this trailer that the film is well funded and well made. I especially like the animations, and the tone seems reverential enough without being morbid. But considering there is a Russell Crowe *shudder* starring biopic film in the making that will inevitably draw much bigger audiences than this, perhaps it would have been better to use this documentary in the aftermath of that film, to best spread the word of the Gospel According to Bill. In the meantime though feast your eyes on some stuff that may not be new, but is still very very Bill.