To Be Takei (NR)

Documentary 93 min. August 22, 2014
By Sherilyn Connelly
Jennifer M. Kroot's To Be Takei is an affectionate portrait of the hardest-working member of the original cast of Star Trek, George Takei. That's pronounced tuh-KAY, not tuh-KAI, as so many have misspoken it over the years, including but not limited to William Shatner, whose strained non-relationship with Takei -- particularly Shatner absence from Takei's wedding -- is one of the film's many running threads. Others include Takei's recent Internet fame, his intimate partnership with his husband, Brad, how Takei's campaigning for marriage equality contributed to them being able to get married in the first place, and, perhaps most poignantly, Los Angeles–born Takei's time spent in internment camps as a child for the crime of being of Japanese ancestry in America during World War II.

The forced internment of American citizens because (as Takei puts it) they happened to look like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor is one of the darker chapters in our history. The archival footage of Japanese-Americans being rounded up and placed in the camps is easily some of the least familiar images of American life during World War II. But even with this darkness, To Be Takei is never less than joyful -- much like the man himself, who went on to a storied acting career at a time when Asian people were rarely seen on American screens. Finally, we've all viewed countless weddings, and by this point footage of dozens if not hundreds of same-sex marriages. But if witnessing Takei and his husband exchanging vows doesn't bring a tear to your eye, you're either heartless, or you're William Shatner.
Jennifer M. Kroot George Takei, Brad Takei, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Howard Stern, Lea Salonga, Dan Savage, Telly Leung Starz Digital Media

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