Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
Fun documentary that chronicles the career of one of the most successful comedy writers in show business today, Bruce Vilanch. After an auspicious debut as a writer for the Chicago Tribune, Vilanch came to Hollywood and wrote for (ghastly as it seems) The Brady Bunch Variety Hour and Donny & Marie before his present-day status as the quip guru who provides shows like the Oscars, high-profile fundraisers and television specials with the lines that really zing. This highly entertaining film interviews his closest collaborators, including Billy Crystal (with whom Vilanch has worked on many Academy Awards shows), Bette Midler (whose spoken concert material is often written by Vilanch), Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg and Lily Tomlin. Other cameos include Raquel Welch, Shirley MacLaine, Florence Henderson (reminiscing about the Brady Bunch show before a biting reminder of the Friars Club debacle with Goldberg) and Nathan Lane, but the richest material comes from Vilanch himself, whose testimonials about his personal life and career are entertaining and insightful. Plus, his mother is a scream. It’s a great backstage look at Hollywood, even if it is too short to be really substantial.