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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

MR. WARMTH: The Don Rickles Project (2007)

This John Landis documentary on the great insult comedian barely gets the job done. The film never finds its focus, jumping around from his current act (not just insult comedy, but songs, gags, stories and maudlin personal stuff) to his reminiscences and on to informal tributes from his peers and the younger comics he inspired. (But what is Chris Rock doing in here? He seems scarcely able to disguise his contempt.) The best stuff in it, by far, are the unadorned interviews where Rickles talks about his early acting gigs (Rickles was a superb character actor with a lot of range) and the old mob-ruled days of early Las Vegas. (There’s a great Clark Gable story, complete with spot-on Gable impression.) But Landis is simply too fond of the man to sort out the wheat from the chaff. There’s good stuff in here, but keep your thumb near the FF button.

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