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The Life of Reilly (2006)

If, in 1940, you had a lobotomized aunt, an institutionalized father, a racist mother, and were the only gay kid on the block, what do you think the odds would be that you'd end up a Tony ... See full summary »

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Storyline

If, in 1940, you had a lobotomized aunt, an institutionalized father, a racist mother, and were the only gay kid on the block, what do you think the odds would be that you'd end up a Tony winner, a staple of television, and a generational icon? Enter "The Life Of Reilly". The cliché goes that truth is stranger than fiction. In this case, it is also funnier and more heartbreaking. Charles Nelson Reilly, famous for his game show innuendos and "X Files" guest appearances, takes us through his bizarre, star-studded, tragic, hilarious, and ultimately amazing life with a potent blend of tenderness and quick one-liners. "The Life Of Reilly" is an adaptation of Mr. Reilly's acclaimed one-man show and was photographed for the screen during Mr. Reilly's final two performances of his play in North Hollywood, California. Written by jlm

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Certificate:

Unrated
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Release Date:

12 March 2006 (USA)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$2,798 (USA) (2 November 2007)

Gross:

$38,306 (USA) (28 December 2007)
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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Entertaining Stage Performer, Frustrating Film-Makers
5 June 2007 | by (Seattle, WA) – See all my reviews

I just saw a screening of this film at the Seattle International Film Festival. Everyone was in great spirits with some pre-show Charles Nelson Reilly t-shirts being given away. Knowing that CNR was more than just a television perma-guest, I was looking forward to hearing him tell stories as only he can. He didn't disappoint. It takes a gifted storyteller to wring humor and pathos out of a painful childhood, and a sharp observer to make the life story so fresh and consistently surprising. As long as the cameras held steady on CNR and just let the man express himself, the film was excellent.

Unfortunately, it seemed that the film-makers wanted to constantly remind the viewer that this was a FILM documentary. I wanted to hear more stories, especially about his life in the theater, but the film-makers edited three-plus hours of stage material down to barely ninety minutes. This lead to some jarring transitions and title screens explaining what surely must have been great stories. Black-and-white film clips interspersed with CNR's monologue detracted from the stories rather than enhance them. But my biggest complaint, however, was the totally distracting soundtrack. Electric guitars and synthesizers played constantly, often making it difficult to hear CNR's words. The director attended the screening and explained that they were still editing the film, and he seemed to acknowledge that it was difficult to hear at times. I recommend more Charles, mellower editing, and far less soundtrack.

The good news is that the director announced the production team's desire to include as a DVD bonus feature an uncut film of CNR's stage show from 2003, which runs about three hours and has plenty of stories and anecdotes. Maybe my problems with the film are really to disguise my disappointment at never being able to see CNR's show live on stage. I hope that uncut film will provide the fix.


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