JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
If you thought Joan Rivers was done, you’re wrong. She’s alive and kicking, and she’s working her ass off to continue to be a compelling media figure. “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” tells the story of this legendary comedienne, from her humble beginnings to her fall from “The Tonight Show” to her rise as an icon and caricature and to her comeback on “Celebrity Apprentice.”
WHAT I LIKED
It would probably piss off Joan Rivers for me to say this, but I can’t help but acknowledge that a documentary like this is most entertaining because it gives us a window into the life of a freak show. The woman is amazing, but like any stand-up comic, she’s wrestling with her own demons every day. And that’s what makes this glimpse into her life so fascinating.
Most people have either dismissed Rivers as a has-been or have never heard of her before. Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, I remember when she was the biggest female comedian on the planet. Now, as I’ve grown to a mature adult, it’s amazing to look into her world and see the chaos in which she inhabits.
This movie tugs deliberately at your heart-strings for her, sometimes too deliberately, but it doesn’t come off as non-genuine. You can’t help but root for this bitch because she sure as hell does.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Like any documentary (except for completely manufactured and scripted ones from Michael Moore and Morgan Spurlock), there are plenty of narrative problems in the feature, but they’re forgivable. The hardest part of this film is to watch it without being judgmental because Rivers is such a mess. But like her copious amounts of plastic surgery, she manages her life like the late Michael Jackson… just barely keeping afloat of sanity.
The DVD comes with the original trailer, deleted scenes, a commentary track, TV spots and a Q&A from the Sundance Film Festival.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Anyone who thought Joan Rivers was gone from the limelight.