Gilbert (NR)

Documentary 94 min. November 3, 2017
By April Wolfe
Gilbert Gottfried's nasally obnoxiousness has wormed its way in (and out) of America's hearts for decades — through his stand-up comedy, his voice-acting work as Aladdin's Iago and Aflac's duck, and his epically crude rendition of the Aristocrats joke, his too-soon Japanese tsunami jokes (which got him fired from that duck gig). But he's largely kept his personal life hidden from fans. In Neil Berkeley's documentary Gilbert, we're given intimate moments from the comedian's life, as we meet his absolutely normal and beautiful wife, Dara, and their two children. Gottfried's comic shield is down, and we see him in a modern kitchen, making the kids' lunches, complete with little "I love you" notes from dad.

Gottfried's vulnerability and curiosity, it turns out, are endearing. And his neuroses run deep -- and cheap. Dara reveals giant plastic containers filled with hotel toiletries and freebies he refuses to throw away. But as the story carries on, we begin to understand that Gottfried has never not feared that one day the world would shun him, and he'd lose everything. And, in one sense, it already has.

After he tweeted out those tsunami jokes just days after catastrophic destruction in Japan, even Gottfried's own friends denounced his jokes publicly -- for good reason. He apologized, deleted the tweets and laid low for a while. The film's least persuasive passages come when some of the interviewed comics decry what they see as PC culture, championing Gottfried as a crusader against political correctness. But if you're a fan of Gottfried, you'd know he's always tried to be on the right side of the joke, even if, God help him, he failed miserably sometimes.
Neil Berkeley Dick Van Dyke, Artie Lange, Whoopi Goldberg, Jim Gaffigan, Richard Kind Neil Berkeley, James Leche Gravitas Ventures

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