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Heckler (DVD Review)

10 Aug, 2008 By: Brendan Howard


Prebook 8/12/08; Street 9/9/08
Echo Bridge
$19.99 DVD
Not rated.
Stars Jamie Kennedy, Lewis Black, Craig Ferguson, Bill Maher, Jon Lovitz, Dave Attell, Joe Rogan, Jewel, Roseanne Barr.

Stand-up comics are funny. Get them off stage, and they can be even funnier. That was the epiphany that drove the comedian-driven documentaries The Aristocrats and that F-word-titled one from a couple of years ago.

Heckler continues the trend, but this time with a twist. Director Michael Addis and interviewer Jamie Kennedy (Malibu's Most Wanted, Son of the Mask) give comics the chance to vent about two classes of people who really bug them: hecklers and critics.

The former class, hecklers, are a force to be artfully — and necessarily — dealt with on stage. Stand-up comics need to develop their ability to counter audience members who want the limelight for a second with a drunken howl of “You suck!”

The first part of the film is filled with humorous anecdotes and observations from comics Lewis Black, Jon Lovitz, Bill Maher and more than a dozen others on how they handle everybody from funny hecklers who get laughs (good) to hecklers who come on stage to punch them (bad).

The latter class of comic opponents are the more insidious: critics. Kennedy wants to know why critics in newspapers, on TV and online are so personal and so mean. He confronts those who've written nasty comments about Kennedy's box office flop Son of the Mask and wraps up with famously harassed director Uwe Boll (House of the Dead, BloodRayne) taking on film critics in the boxing ring.

Heckler is a comedic documentary gem thanks to its skillful and energetic editing, engaging personalities, and a subject that clearly captures the hearts of the interviewees: the pain of criticism from others. It's something to which everyone will relate.

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