Tuesday, June 24, 2014

OCFF 2014 Review: TO BE TAKEI- Jonesy's Take

Directed by Jennifer M. Kroot
Starring: George Takei
Synopsis: A documentary about the life of the pop culture icon. 

Nowadays, George Takei is known for his witty twitter and Facebook posts (which everyone should follow because they are quite amusing) and his quotable phrase, "Oh my!" Other than his online persona, he was most famous for portraying Sulu in the original Star Trek series and subsequent films of the 80's. TO BE TAKEI takes a look at more of his personal life including his activism in the LGBT community and bringing awareness to the treatment of Japanese Americans during WWII.

What is essential in any documentary is an interesting and engaging subject. Director Jennifer M. Kroot has no problem with Takei. He is every bit as fun and energetic as you imagine him to be. His laugh is infectious and has an anecdote for every occasion. We also get to see the ins and outs of his personal life with his husband, Brad. Brad acts as Takei's manager and goes with him to everything from awards ceremonies to Comic Con appearances. Takei seems to relish in every appearance and special event he goes it. He doesn't feel bogged down or worn out, but rather loves going a mile a minute to please everyone. It's quite endearing.

Even though the subject matter is fascinating, the film suffers from a focused story. The narrative jumps around too much and never really settles on a through line. Takei's involvement in social causes is the most interesting aspect of his life, and there are a few heartfelt moments where Takei talks of his time in Japanese interment camps as a child and how that's shaped his life today. The film has ample opportunity to focus on that part of his life and sprinkle the more lighthearted parts in, but instead, the story never feels cohesive.

With a better story arc, this film could have been a fascinating piece about man who went through some atrocities as a child but overcame them to become a notable pop culture icon. However, in the end, it never reaches that pinnacle. Other than his time in interment camp, there isn't really much insight we gain on Takei and his life. Though the film feels disjointed, Takei's charm and energy is enough to keep you entertained.

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