June 16, 2024

Steve! (Martin): A Documentary in 2 Pieces Review 2024 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online

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Steve! (Martin): A Documentary in 2 Pieces Review 2024 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online

Greetings again from the darkness. We are now two full generations past the peak (and end) of Steve Martin’s superstardom as a stand-up comedian. Today, he is mostly known as a banjo player, a writer, or as one of the three co-stars of the hit show, “Only Murders in the Building”. That’s right. At almost 80 years of age, and removed from his two previous fame-inducing careers (comedian and movie star), he “only” has three remaining paths to fame, glory, and gobs of money. Regardless of the Steve Martin era studied, what stands out is his remarkable ability to entertain – something he says captured his fancy the very first time he saw a stage.

Documentarian Morgan Neville won an Oscar for the spectacular 20 FEET FROM STARDOM (2013). He’s also behind WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR (2018), an excellent profile of Mister Rogers, as well as numerous other documentary projects. With more than a half-century of Martin’s career to somehow cover, Neville takes a “then” and “now” approach with what is effectively two films that split Martin’s fabulous career into the two titular ‘pieces’. “Then” covers the early developmental period, right up until 1980, when Steve Martin shocked the world by walking away from stand-up. “Now” offers a more personal and reflective look at his endeavors since.

For those of us who were around in the 1970’s, “Then” is not just a nostalgic look back at how one man reinvented stand-up comedy (though it is that). It’s also a fascinating look at Martin’s childhood and his early pursuit of finding his place in the entertainment world. We hear Martin state, “I guarantee you I had no talent.” Of course, whether that’s accurate is debatable, but what he certainly had was persistence, ambition, and a desire to make it. As a 15-year-old working at Disneyland (he was born in Waco, Texas but raised in southern California) he learned the basics of magic and balloon animals through observation and relentless practice. He admits his educational background in Philosophy gave him a unique perspective in understanding himself and audiences. He gave himself until age 30 to “make it”, and a fortuitous turn of events, made that birthday a special moment. He worked and massaged and practiced his routine – refining such silliness as an arrow through the head, happy feet, “Excuuuuuse Me!”, King Tut, and “Wild and Crazy Guy” – all while wearing a white suit and sporting premature gray hair. In 1976, Lorne Michaels invited Martin to host a relatively new comedy show called, “Saturday Night Live” (something he has now done 16 times). Soon after, Martin released the first two comedy albums to ever go Platinum. This led to the first of his many movie roles in the classic comedy, THE JERK (1979). Director Neville highlights each step of Martin’s amazing ascension via rare clips and input from Martin himself. And just like that … comedy’s first rock star walked off stage at age 35 and on top of the world.

“Now”, the second entry in Neville’s in-depth documentary, is much less about Steve Martin’s varied career and much more about Steve Martin the person. To emphasize the contrast between ‘Then’ and ‘Now’, this second piece begins in Martin’s kitchen showing him poaching two eggs (heavy on the pepper) for breakfast. Does that sound like showbiz? It’s an entirely different approach as we watch Martin and Jerry Seinfeld have a conversation about comedy, while Tina Fey, his sister, and others give brief insight into their paths crossing with Martin. Even his wife, Anne Stringfield, offers up some personal scoop on the man who has protected his privacy all these years … although it should be noted that their daughter only appears as a cartoon stick figure.

Much of this segment revolves around Steve Martin and his friend and “Only Murders in the Building” co-star, Martin Short, as they collaborate on jokes for their stand-up show … all while jabbing each other with friendly one-liners. Short says the reason Martin hasn’t aged is because he looked 70 when he was 30. It’s that kind of friendly banter between friends. A most poignant moment occurs as Martin is going through his bound copies of movie scripts. PLANES, TRAINS, AND AUTOMOBILES (1987) takes him back to his close friendship with the late, great John Candy, and the memories are almost too painful for Martin to bear.

It’s fascinating to hear Martin talk about his humiliation when PENNIES FROM HEAVEN (1981) failed, and learn more about his devotion to fine art. To emphasize the personal change Martin has gone through, the director shows an interview clip from decades ago where Martin refuses to discuss the first painting he bought, and then juxtaposes it with a contemporary clip where he eagerly expounds on that painting and others. Martin doesn’t appear to carry as much pride in his movie career as he should, and we see him working with illustrator Harry Bliss on a collection of memories and anecdotes from each film.

Morgan Neville likely underestimated the project when it began. He certainly benefitted from Steve Martin’s willingness to open up and share his personal archives. A man of many talents and interests, with multiple careers spanning decades may be a challenge for a biographer, but for viewers, it’s pure joy to stroll through the many reinventions of Steve Martin. His work is worthy of admiration, as is his willingness to open his life and reveal the hard work and dedication that goes on behind the curtain.

Steve! (Martin): A Documentary in 2 Pieces Review 2024 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online