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Tribeca Review: 'Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic' Leaves Out Insight

Thompson on Hollywood By Maggie Lange | Thompson on Hollywood April 25, 2013 at 1:39AM

It is perplexing to understand how a documentary about someone as funny, alive, honest, edgy, and brilliant as Richard Pryor can fall so flat. Marina Zenovich’s documentary on the comedian, "Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic," premiering at Tribeca, testifies to the comedian's humor and brilliantly dark view of the world around him. But "Omit the Logic" doesn’t show the audience anything new or insightful about him.
Richard Pryor
Richard Pryor

But Pryor’s talent nonetheless prevails despite his propensity for profanity. He gets many breaks: an act in Vegas at the Aladdin, a show at NBC, and a $40 million seven-picture deal with Columbia. But in almost every instance, Pryor found himself censored or creatively compromised. And so, according to the witnesses, he wildly acts out in order to express his independence.

Zenovich's 2008 "Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired," about another controversial figure in American entertainment, was praised for its subtle open-ended quality. "Omit the Logic," while also open-ended regarding the creative and destructive outbursts from the subject, seems empty. It ends with an interview with Pryor, in which he was asked how he would like to be remembered. He says, "I would like someone to look at my picture and laugh and have stories to tell… [I would like to] bring joy. That's how I like to be remembered." While this documentary remembers Pryor, it doesn’t show enough of his brilliant humor or his motivation behind it. It needed to pry further.

This article is related to: Tribeca Film Institute, Tribeca Film Festival, Tribeca, Documentary, Documentaries, Roman Polanski: A Film Memoir, Festivals

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.