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A very fascinating and likable film, much like its subject.
A well-made documentary about one of the nicest and iconic actors of all time. I liked it a lot.
An entertaining and playful documentary about the actor/activist. The charming Takei is shamelessly willing to engage in this type of self-promotion even though as nearly the youngest (behind Koenig) of the original cast of Star Trek he is hardly reaching the end of his career. We get the inside scoop about his childhood and his relationship with husband Brad. We observe his current life of fan convention appearances and being a social media sensation. We learn how his Broadway show Allegiance originated. And we teasingly gather that there is a bit of antagonism between George and William Shatner.
I truly admire George Takei. He's a gay activist. He's of Japanese descent. He's a clever and informed political commentator. He starred in Star Trek. After all, I'm a gay Japanophile who's interested in politics, as well as an obsessive Star Trek fan. An equation of the easiest order.
Documentary filmmaker Jennifer M. Kroot has a technically modest but in many ways heartwarming film in "To Be Takei". There are very few cinematic accomplishments here; this is a documentary that is made good by its subject only. Takei comes across as a completely charming, disarming, witty and eloquent intellectual. There are many points of laughter as well as moments inviting contemplation. The optimism and warmth of Takei are lovely to behold, as well as his sharp, witty responses to homophobic oppressors and Star Trek nemesis William Shatner.
George Takei probably has more of a presence social media than anyone else his age. At 77, he has become a ubiquitous fixture of both Facebook and Twitter so much so that he is probably more prolific and well-known now than he was in the 40 years that he spent being billed fifth in his most famous role as Mr. Sulu on the original "Star Trek" TV show.
For those who only know Takei as Sulu, the documentary To Be Takei comes as sort of a cold water treatment. It is a history lesson, the fascinating story of a man who fought a personal battle on three fronts, first as an Asian-American locked away in one of FDR's internment camps with his family during World War II which subsequently cost them their home and business; then later as an actor trying to break away from the Asian stereotypes he was forced to play; and finally, attempting to keep his acting career going while hiding the fact that he was gay. Several times throughout this documentary, he returns to the memories of the Japanese Internment Camps and reminds us "I remember those barbed-wire fences." Based on his experience, we gather that he means this both literally and metaphorically.
So it is sort of fitting that now, at 77, George Takei is as happy as anyone of any age. Flashbacks to his early struggles are juxtaposed with his present-day life with his business partner Brad Altman whom he married in 2008. They're complete opposites - George is impulsive and unpredictable while Brad is fussy and organized - they come off, well, like an old married couple. George laughs a lot, and jokes about some of his own misfortunes. He's not shy about his orientation (he refuses to call it a lifestyle) and, admittedly, some of his divulged sexual history gets a little TMI.
The movie is very adamant about showing us that, despite his struggles, George Takei didn't simply sit on the canvas and let his roadblocks define him. In moving past the Asian stereotype to get his acting career going, he found work in 1966 on a Wagon Train-type television series called "Star Trek" in which he was cast in a key role, not in a servile position, but as the helmsman of the U.S.S. Enterprise - of this, Takei jokes the he helped to break the stereotype about bad Asian drivers. On the front of his sexual orientation, he became an activist, helping to pass California's Equal Rights Marriage Bill. On the issue of his family's incarceration, he responded by getting the United States government to apologize for its wrong-doings.
Of course, that's not all that the movie is about. Between the activism and the politics, George Takei still finds time to embrace the geeksphere, visiting one convention and then another, one day in Nashville, then in some Podunk town nobody ever heard of. He's prolific and we see very open interviews with him deflating Howard Stern's barbs about his sexuality, and later planning a bizarre, but well-meaning, musical called "Allegiance" about his imprisonment. His former "Star Trek" cast members are befuddled by his career second wind, including an ebullient Nichelle "Uhura" Nichols, a down-cast Walter "Chekov" Keonig, a sort-of distant Leonard Nimoy, and of course Shatner who seems to barely remember George or anything about him (he comes off in this film like a jerk). The relationship between Shatner and Takei is prickly at best. Driving past a billboard featuring The Shat with tape over his mouth, Takei scoffs "as it should be."
To Be Takei is interesting if a bit conventional. As filmmaking it's not ground-breaking, but getting to know the life and times of George Takei is a fascinating ride. You're happy to get to know him beyond his signature role, and he makes us all with that we could be as happy and jovial when we reach his age.
I've always loved George!
He tells it like it is and he doesn't sugarcoat things. (Line from the movie: George-"I can see you've put on some weight since the last time we say each other!" Brad just looks shocked and just shakes his head back and forth! LOL) We need more people like him in this world.
Also how cute are him and Brad? You can just feel the love between them.
I never knew how bad his childhood was till this movie. I can't imagine how hard it was to grow up in a place surrounded by wire and men with guns.
George is the type of person who should be a child's (and adults) role model. Not Miley Cyrus or someone like that.
This film is definitely a MUST WATCH!!!
While some parts get a little slow, there is no denying how inspirational this man's life is. This does have a sense of humor to it, and George Takei is entertaining. He has lived a tougher life than I realized, but I love that he is enjoying success way beyond Star Trek.
A documentary about George Takei. He's a very interesting positive guy, so this was pretty good.
Funny, entertaining look into the childhood, personal life, and career of the surprisingly prolific character actor. Obviously his Star Trek work figures heavily, but is in no way the exclusive focus. His endearing sense of humor and smart wit are probably the main attraction here.
A phenomenal life story of a Hollywood icon and cultural and gay rights activist. Very funny, and also touching. Worth the watch for any fan of movies, or equality supporters. George called Wil Wheaton fat, to his face. Great.
Watched at home on Netflix, June 1, 2015.