Critic Reviews

55

Metascore

Based on 12 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
80
Empire
From his early days doing stand-up at the age of 15 in Houston, Texas, to his membership of the Texas Outlaws comedy collective, to his supremacy as a brilliant controversist, American tells the story of comedian Bill Hicks' tragically short life through the eyes of those who lived it with him.
75
There simply isn't enough footage of their protagonist just being Bill Hicks the guy and not Bill Hicks the comic. Surely he had some interviews or other artifacts they could have used along with all the comedy routines.
70
The Hollywood Reporter
A portrait of the short-lived artist that will move fans while letting the uninitiated witness enough onstage highlights to leave them wanting more.
60
Variety
A hagiographic portrait of the standup comic and social satirist who never quite reached beyond cult status in the U.S., American: The Bill Hicks Story might have impressed more of the unconverted had it included more performance footage of its subject.
60
Hicks is undoubtedly missed, but this attempt to commune with this social critic's spirit falls frustratingly short of his brilliance.
60
An oddly sterile documentary inspired by a particularly fecund imagination, American: The Bill Hicks Story recounts a bright-burning life while leaving us mostly in the dark.
58
NPR
There's a great deal of promise and potential in the idea of a documentary study of Hicks. Unfortunately, American falls short of anything beyond the ordinary. Part of the problem is the difficulty in resisting the temptation to squeeze the comic's story into the familiar confines of a VH1 Behind the Music-style template.
50
Village Voice
Hicks's shtick is so good and his life so ordinary that it's hard to escape the feeling that we might've been better off just watching a compilation of the groundbreaking funnyman's work.
50
Like "Man In The Moon," American applies a thick gloss of reverence and sentimentality to the story of a comic pioneer who made his living challenging the kinds of neat, convenient, slickly packaged narratives presented here.
40
Boxoffice Magazine
This foreign view of the subject is anthropologically useful, however the film's photo animation technique transforms family photos (used extensively to fill in historical plot holes) into something that resembles zombie-resurrection.

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