Robin Williams: Live on Broadway (2002)

Directed by Marty Callner


Anamorphic: N/A; appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Rent it.

Williams is back. After winning an Oscar (finally!), trying to change his image by playing parts in terribly schmaltzy movies (Patch Adams, anyone?), then trying to change his image by playing edgy roles with mixed results (the snoozefest Insomnia, anyone?), he's going back to his roots: standup. In this case, HBO gave Williams a live performance--no net, no safety delay, nothing--where he could just cut loose and be...well, Robin.

And Jesus, is the man ever Robin. Granted, this is an older, wiser Robin. His jokes are about 75% hit and 25% miss--and both hits and misses hit and miss harder than they ever did before. The upshot is that he's more rapid fire than ever, so you're getting an extremely dense placement of jokes and they come so quickly that you don't have time to dwell on the ones that don't quite work. Still, for the most part, you won't be disappointed. At the end of two hours, you'll still be in pain from laughing so much and so hard.

As far as features go, there are few--but they are choice. First you get an "interview" between Williams and director Callner--although it's less an actual interview than it is the two men cutting up and having way too much fun. Then you have a snippet--the "Behind the Scenes" feature--of Williams backstage a couple of minutes before showtime. Surpisingly, the best thing you can walk from this feature with is the knowledge that, yes, even Robin Williams gets nervous. His fidgeting off-the-cuff improv with the backstage crew is priceless.

Lastly, there's a two-minute montage of all of Williams' various and sundry sound effects from the show--which is pretty damn funny taken out of context as they were.

If you're a huge Williams fan, you'd probably want to buy this immediately. Most people, though--even the hardcore--don't enjoy watching live concerts over and over again, especially when it comes to standup. But regardless, you should at least watch it once: Williams is wonderfully out of control.

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