Mike Epps, Richard Pryor Jr. and others recount the culture-defining influence of Richard Pryor one of America's most brilliant comic minds in this new documentary. Pryor remains an inspiration to many: a man who broke taboos, provoked change and propelled himself through life as a result of sheer force of personality. Directed by Emmy® winning filmmaker Marina Zenovich, executive produced by Emmy® winning producer Roy Ackerman and Pryor's widow, Jennifer Lee Pryor.
“I’d like people to see my picture, and laugh.”
Before I begin the review of this fantastic documentary, I must preface it with my first experience with Richard Pryor. I was probably around three or four years old, and the movie was ‘Superman III.’ Probably not the best showcase of the man and his genius, but to a little kid he was funny, entertaining, and held the screen as well as Superman did. So on or around my fifth birthday my mom took me to see ‘Superman IV: The Quest For Peace’ - and right away something was missing. The funny guy that’d I’d seen and enjoyed in the previous adventure was gone. Many years later I would discover his incredible catalog of work and come to know a true comedic genius.
For a man whose life and work has been dissected over and over, one would assume that there would be little material left for a feature length documentary to cover. Thankfully ’Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic’ finds not only new material but never before seen photographs, letters, recordings, and home movie footage. This incredibly insightful documentary from Emmy Award winning filmmaker Marina Zenovich also finds a true sense of honesty to the man through in-depth interviews from the people who knew Pryor best including Mel Brooks, Richard Pryor Jr., Jesse Jackson, Paul Mooney, Robin Williams and numerous others.
Told chronologically from Pryor’s arrival on the comedy scene through his numerous career ups and downs, marriages, rampant drug use, his infamous freebasing accident, to his diagnosis with MS, ‘Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic’ never loses focus on its subject. So many bio-pics or documentaries seem to fear getting their fingers dirty, especially if the central character has a history that is a little less than clean, ‘Omit The Logic’ doesn’t turn a blind eye and is the better for it.
Much of Pryor’s history is well known and has been thoroughly documented. What you’re going to see here is a collection of the most heartfelt and honest interviews ever recoreded. No one likes to speak ill of the dead, but in Pryor’s case, to not talk about the darker days in the comedian's life would be doing the man a disservice. As each interviewee recounts a story or anecdote we’re given a little piece of Pryor’s comedy routine, or a piece of his diary or a personal letter he wrote and through that we are given an entirely new understanding of where his genius came from. Some of this is extremely funny, but in a certain context, you get a better understanding that Pryor was a man that experienced a lot of pain in his life.
Now, I don’t want to give the impression that this is some kind of depression-fest where everyone and everything involved is simply the dark gritty stuff. Quite the opposite actually. Peppered throughout are segments are some of his most famous standup routines and unreleased recordings that had me on the floor in stitches. Even through the pain they experience and recount, you can feel that everyone interviewed had amazing love for the man, and now a scant 10 years since his passing, love him still. This is a outstanding documentary. Even if you think you know all there is to know about Pryor, it is a must watch.
‘Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic’ features a first rate picture. This documentary is cobbled together from a wide variety of sources including old home film movies, private photos, television tape masters, clips from his movies, and new interview footage shot in HD. Consistency in image quality isn’t so much important as consistency in story telling. Everything from the home movies to the archive television footage was mined from the best sources possible. In particular clips from the short-lived ‘The Richard Pryor Show’ look fantastic as does the behinds the scenes footage of his comedy concert movie 'Live on the Sunset Strip.' Given the effort that went into creating a unique, singular experience, I can find little to fault in this presentation.
Featuring an English 2.0 DTS Master Audio Track, ‘Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic’ has a near flawless soundtrack. Because voices move the documentary, everything is presented nice and evenly throughout. The only tough spots are with some of the audio in the archive footage. The filmmakers were probably unable to remove any hisses or pops and for some segments, it can be a tad difficult to hear Prior’s standup bits in some archive recordings. This is only problematic because so many of these archive scenes and soundbites work to buttress what a particular interview segment is saying. All in all though, this is a fine mix with only small issues keeping it from being pitch perfect.
Additional Interviews (HD 39:05): Features expanded interview footage from Mel Brooks, David Banks, Whoopi Goldberg, Quincey Jones, Willie Nelson, Jennifer Lee Pryor, David Steinbeg and Lily Tomlin. It’s easy to understand why these extra bits didn’t make the final cut of the documentary, as they really don’t feed into the specific narrative, they are still incredibly interesting and enlightening. Considering how many people were interviewed for the documentary, it’s a shame there aren’t more cut and extended interviews to experience.
Just when you think there isn’t anything more you could possibly learn about Richard Prior comes this outstanding documentary. “Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic’ has so much to offer. From the range of interviews to the archive footage to the private notes and images, this is a fascinating film from beginning to end. Even after learning so much new material, I was ready to revisit my favorite of his standup routines, if only because I can now see this material in a new light. If you’re a Pryor fan or if you’re just interested in learning more about the man, this is a must see film. Highly recommended.