DVD Review: Gilbert

STUDIO: Gravitas Ventures | DIRECTOR: Neil Berkeley
RELEASE DATE: Dec. 20, 2017 | PRICE: DVD $11.89, Blu-ray $24.99
BONUSES: commentary, additional scenes
SPECS: NR | 94 min. | Documentary | stereo

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie   | Audio   | Video   | Overall

Even big fans of comic Gilbert Gottfried will likely be surprised with the real-life man portrayed in the documentary Gilbert.

Known for his antic, politically incorrect, kvetchy shtick that tends to draw as many haters as it does lovers, Gilbert Gottfried has been at it for decades, doing stand-up, commercials, movie appearances, animation voices and roasts. The Manhattan-based laughmeister remains as busy as ever.

Yet, as this hilarious but often surprisingly sweet documentary shows, there’s another side to the 62-year-old Gilbert that people never see and only showbiz friends seem to know about. And that’s his home life: a strong marriage to his supportive wife Dara, loving father to his two kids and devoted brother to his elderly sister Arlene, who he visits regularly by bus and discusses his experiences growing up.

Gilbert and Dara Gottfried in the documentary Gilbert.

Director Neil Berkeley paints a well-rounded picture of Gottfried, foibles and all. He uses home movies, interviews with Gilbert and family, anecdotes from fellow comics and footage of the comedian on the road to show us all sides of the man. There is his hoarding tendencies—clearing out every hotel room he’s ever been in and then some, then keeping the soaps, shampoos, etc. There’s his frugalness — taking cheap bus lines to gigs There are his regular podcasts with writer Frank Santopadre, where he talks pop culture obsessions and welcomes comics and actors to be interviewed on a regular basis. And there’s his life on the road, booking dates that don’t always suit him but that help pay for his comfy New York co-op. Of the latter, there’s a trip to a gun show at a hotel he’s playing where he meets some white supremacist fans, which is hilarious and disturbing at the same time.

Kudos to director Neil Berkeley for not white-washing Gottfred’s life. Included is his firing from the Insurance company Aflac–for which he was paid handsomely for providing the voice of a duck for commercials—after some insensitive tweets in 2011 regarding the tsunami in Japan. And there are other examples of how Gottfried’s envelope-pushing style got him into trouble and threatened to damage his career. Conspicuously absent, however, is Gilbert’s brief Saturday Night Live gig during the show’s sixth season in 1980.

In all- though, Gilbert is a sharp, well-rounded, revealing documentary about a man who lives to make people laugh. It’s what goes on behind the laughter that’s captivating.

Buy or Rent Gilbert

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.