Documentary Movie Review: Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You (2016) #atozchallenge


Welcome to Panorama of the Mountains! My name is Liam and I enjoy watching documentary movies.  This month I will be reviewing 26 documentaries from A-to-Z!

Documentaries starting with the letter Documentaries starting with the letter N that I have previously reviewed include: 

Title: Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You 
Release Date: January 21, 2016
Director: Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady
Production Company: Loki Films | Thirteen/WNET
Summary/Review:

Several years ago I read Norman Lear’s autobiography Even This I Get To Experience, and this documentary is basically a companion piece to that book.  There isn’t much to the film that wasn’t covered by the book, but with its subject being someone who worked in a visual medium it’s great to see what they are talking about. There are some issues that came up in writing the book, such as Lear’s relationship with his father, that he came to see in a different way.  He also admits that one of his oft-repeated family stories was a lie.

Lear, of course, was the tv producer responsible for creating sitcoms like All in the FamilyThe JeffersonsGood TimesSanford and SonMaude, and One Day at a Time. All of these shows attempted to show realistic families dealing with issues of the day in an honest (but funny) manner that had never before been done on television and rarely has been done since.  The documentary focuses almost entirely on Lear’s tv career in the 1970s with a little bit about his activist work for People for the American Way tacked on the end. The movie has a bit of fluff including recurring scenes of a child actor wearing Lear’s trademark hat representing Lear’s “inner child” and coming off as mawkish.  Otherwise it’s a straightforward and solid documentary but I think someone who was as revolutionary to the the tv medium as Lear deserve a more revolutionary documentary.

Rating: ***