American: The Bill Hicks Story - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

American: The Bill Hicks Story Reviews

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½ July 1, 2017
A documentary (not a stand-up performance) on the life of comedian Bill Hicks. Unaware of Hicks myself, I randomly chose to watch this doc and learned about the late Mr. Hicks, from his meteoric rise at only fourteen to his battles with alcohol and smoking, and ultimately his death from cancer at far too young an age (33). From watching this, I wouldn't say I found his comedy especially funny, but what it showed me was that Bill Hicks had transcended beyond comedy. I would have been a fan, not of his stand-up acts, but of his determined stance on all things meaningful in this life. He had the knowledge and charisma to lock horns with anybody, and it would have been nice to see his spoken opinions on today's tumultuous topics, from politics to media sensationalism. I wouldn't have agreed with him fully, but he had a powerful way of getting his message across. I wish I knew more about Bill Hicks.
March 11, 2015
Bill Hicks was as overrated as Sam Kinison, and so is this film.
January 24, 2015
Pays an amazing homage to the best comedian I've ever heard
December 3, 2014
Three years ago, I discovered a different, more mature side to comedy. I grew up with the likes of Harry Hill and Lee Evans, material that really made me laugh, but never focused on a point that raised my attention.

Obviously at the age of sixteen, I was finding out about more adult topics, like politics, history and war. Serious subjects don't necessarily don't mix with stand up comedy, but Bill Hicks managed to combine the two expertly, becoming an inspiration with his anarchistic presence, rebelling against a system he sought to fix.

Hicks' life is put into perspective through animation of images of his personal and stage life (Not that they were ever seperate), with narration from his family and friends. It completely advances what seems like a simple documentary, and creates a rollercoaster of dark, emotional, often hilarious stories and events that shaped the "Little Dark Poet" into one of the most important stand up comedians of all time.

Bill is presented as an American hero, shouting his voice to an audience gripped onto his every word about problems they want to hear. Problems that were relevant to the current culture. Problems that other stand up comedians would never speak about in fear they would lose their job. Bill was fearless, and this made him more popular with audiences.

His life seems to me to be much more of a sad tale. A tragedy to a man who was taken too fast from life. Even when his material seemed bitter and full of anger, Bill did in fact have a love for life, and that is essentially what the documentary is showing. His family and friends loved him for being so honest, caring and most importantly, different.

Bill is one of my many inspirations in life, and rightly so. The film is an access to learn and understand the life of a man who was more than just a stand up comedian. He was a voice of righteousness, for generations then, now and for the future.
An incredible insight to a wonderful man who was cut short from a world he adored and hated at the same time.
October 25, 2014
A fascinating look into the life of a much-missed comedy genius.
October 8, 2014
While the documentary doesn't really delve much at all into the possible deeper meanings and philosophy behind Hick's work, as a biography film about one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time it's very good.
September 13, 2014
Funny and insightful, The Bill Hicks Story is an interesting way to look at the life of one of the most entertaining and intelligent comedians to ever grace the American stage.
August 29, 2014
Genius at its finest.
½ August 2, 2014
Wow!! What a boring terrible waste of an hour and forty five minutes, not to mention the cost of renting sqid piece of garbage! I think Bill Hicks himself died of boredom watching this disaster!
½ July 12, 2014
"The world is like a ride in an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it's very brightly coloured and it's very loud and it's fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they begin to question: 'Is this real, or is this just a ride?' And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, they say, 'Hey, don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.' And we kill those people."
June 19, 2014
Excellent! Watch his stand up first! Explains a lot about his background and the development of his humor and performances.
May 14, 2014
I didin't know a lot about bill hicks before seeing this doc and i learned much about his life and career. Some people claim he is one of the great comedians but after seeing this i don't believe he was. The reason i say that is because it seemed like he had just found his voice as a comic toward the end of his life (that ended early) and he never fully got to say what he wanted to. I am saying he could have been but he died too young.
April 1, 2014
Many people have never heard of Bill Hicks, which is a shame. He is easily among the greatest stand up comics who have ever lived, rising to fame during the great comedy boom of the 80's and 90s. He is known for mixing serious political and philosophical ideas into his act that paved the way for many comics to imitate after his death. Comics like Lewis Black, Denis Leary, Russel Brand, and Ron White have stated that they were directly influenced by Bill. This documentary takes us through the life of Bill Hicks, told by friends and family members. He started doing comedy at age 15 in humble beginnings. Raised in a conservative, baptist home in Austin, Texas, Bill would sneak out at night to perform comedy at a local nightclub. After graduating high school, Bill moved to Hollywood and started his career. The rest of his life would be him finding his voice, dealing with alcohol and drug addiction, and always finding material that he deemed entertaining and worth hearing in a American society he was increasingly becoming more bitter about. He used the stage as a platform to offer new ideas and insights into the minds of a massive audience. This documentary is never boring, captures some of his best acts, and sheds light on a story about how one of America's greatest free-speaker and free-thinker left his mark on the world in the short life span of 32.
March 4, 2014
Easily one of the best documentaries i've ever seen on a single person. Bill Hicks was more than just a comedian, he was a guy with a world wide message, someone who didn't care about crossing boundries to let his messages be heard and for the time he was alive, he sure shook up a lot of people. This Expertly crafted documentary tells of the life of Bill, growing up, family life, how he snuck out the house to get his first gig at a comedy workshop and continues on till his final moments. The style of this is unbelievable, the director decides to go for using pictures of everyone and putting them in a scenario as the interviewee would describe the situation. Its a breath of fresh air to see something like this and really gives a sense of who and what Bill was all about. It doesnt dip, it doesnt lose its stride, it just keeps on trucking until the end. Instead of, like most documentaries, spend time revelling in the recess of his death, it ends out on a happy note, yes the family speak of his final gigs and their last times together but it never goes beyond that and it always stays positive, which is something i think represents Bill and his values. The film ends with a segment from one of his live shows, with a message so clear and powerful. A wonderful documentary that will inspire as well as educate.
February 3, 2014
This is a wonderful documentary and a must see for comedy fans. I was completely ignorant about Bill Hicks until now and I'm so glad that I stumbled across this film. The manner in which the film is made really gets you into the moment and helps you appreciate the huge talent and drive that was more Hicks. I found the film to be very inspirational and endearing. A true power house of comedy whose life was unfortantely cut far too short. RIP Bill. We love you.
November 20, 2013
My Favorite Film Is 1941's Citizen Kane.
November 15, 2013
Brilliant. Inspiring. The world needs people like this. If this film has a flaw it's that all periods of his life are given equal screen time, meaning his youth and formative years can feel a little completist, while footage of his most significant work is all too brief - but, I don't believe that's a fair criticism. The impact and inspiration are profound, and that for me justifies the approach.
September 5, 2013
Up there with George Carlin and Lenny Bruce
Super Reviewer
June 5, 2013
"The greatest comic of his generation. Kicked ass. Took names. Changed the game."

American: The Bill Hicks Story is a new favorite when it comes to documentaries, especially biographical documentaries. I loved the approach, with using voice over interviews over top of some great photo animation. The film is fast paced and extremely entertaining, while also being very down to earth, frank, and intelligent. We see Bill Hicks for what he was at different parts of his life as told by the ten people that knew him best from his mother to his siblings to fellow comics and friends. If you're a Bill Hicks fan, this is required viewing, and if you're not(as Bill would say), kill yourself.

Bill Hicks is easily the most interesting stand up comedian that I know of. While today's comics pepper us with the same bullshit, he was able to take that bullshit and throw true meaning into it. There's a part in the film where one of his friends says that at heart he was an activist, and if you listen to what he's saying, there's no denying that fact. He had beliefs and he voiced them through his humor.

The film chronicles Bill's life from an early age when he started really getting into comedy. We see his progression from a clean-cut, no profanity, no drugs and no drinking teenage comedian to his time with drugs and alcohol to his sobriety to his post cancer stage. Through this progression his comedy always changed. At first he was just talking about his parents and school. Then when he got into drugs and alcohol he was more of a shock comedian, and then when he got sober he became, as one interviewee said, "more than just an above average comedian."

Bill Hicks is an easy source for a documentary and American nails his life with brilliant precision. I loved every second of this and highly recommend it to anyone. If you're a fan, watch it. If you've never heard of him; this is a great place to see what he's all about and it should make you into a fan. It's a great tribute, a great film, and just a pleasure to watch. 
April 11, 2013
More geared toward the sensibilities of those who are familiar with Bill Hicks' work as not much of his material is brought forth but that which is is a treasure trove for the fans as it chronicles his first onstage presence at the age of 14 to his final show at the too young age of 32 (due to cancer). A touching tribute to one of the true geniuses of stand-up comedy. Had he been given just another ten years he would have surpassed the standards that George Carlin eventually set in terms of progressive realism. I'd recommend any of the CD albums that he and others (posthumously) released to get you started if you're new to this comedian. He will take some getting used to if you're from a conservative background, but if you have the slightest opening within your mind and are willing to take an adventure into the surreal reality that we live in and have the unpleasant truths along with maybe a few nuggets of wisdom or common sense thrown into your face and can consider this as good fodder then this is the documentary for you. If you're already a fan of Bill Hicks or even mildly know his work and like him, you should have already checked this out.
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