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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
Far less funny but far more engaging than I'd anticipated.
This film consists of the actor, Charles Nelson Reilly, doing a stand-up act where he talks about his life, his family and his experiences. I had assumed based on the Reilly I'd seen on TV that it would be funny. And, while there are definitely funny parts, there are as many, if not more, painful parts. Apparently, he grew up in a strange and emotionally abusive home--and although he doesn't say it, you wonder if he chose acting as a way of dissociating from this. At first, he talks slow and shows his age. But, through the course of this talk to a college audience, he becomes more animated and at ease. And, at times, he seemed amazingly young and spry--bouncing about the stage with a lot more vigor than you'd expect from a man in his mid-70s. Throughout all this, he's amazingly engaging and you can't help but sit spellbound. In many ways, it reminds me of a similar film with John Waters called "This Filthy World"--and both are nice opportunities to see these men and gaze into who they really are--or at least who they want you to see. Well worth seeing even if you aren't a fan of Reilly. After seeing it, you may well be.
Also, for kicks, go to YouTube and type in "Weird Al CNR" and watch the video. It's all about the massively manly exploits of Charles Nelson Reilly and it's hilarious.
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