Pin It Share on Tumblr


The Bitter Buddha Movie Review

Posted by bsimon On February - 12 - 2013 0 Comment

Title: The Bitter Buddha

Director: Steven Feinartz

Featuring: Eddie Pepitone, Patton Oswalt, Dana Gould, Sarah Silverman, Zach Galifianakis, Marc Maron, BJ Novak, Paul Provenza, Andy Kindler, Jen Kirkman

Forget the tears of a clown as it pertains to the inner psychology of a comedian – what about the rage of a clown? That’s the principal focus of “The Bitter Buddha,” a documentary portrait of middle-aged stand-up Eddie Pepitone that surfs along the edge of his angry but self-aware shtick and celebrates his standing among fellow comedians, but all without fully and insightfully digging into the deep-seated emotion that informs his existential angst.

Praised as the sort of comedian whom other comedians love (“the Charles Bukowski of comedy, except if you replaced alcohol with Nutter Butters,” says one), the Brooklyn-born Pepitone – whose late mother was stricken with a manic depression that rendered his still-living father angry and resentful — serves up a dizzying blend of caustic candor. He’s honest about his occasional resentment of young comics, but just as hard on himself (“I get heckled a lot in clubs. It’s usually generic, but accurate, like, ‘Eddie, you suck!’”). It’s this sort of “decades of fear and failure, and learning to deal with that creatively,” says champion Patton Oswalt (one of many other comedians who give testimonials of support), that informs the backbone of both Pepitone’s perpetually agitated professional voice and regular personality.

Director Steven Feinartz follows his subject around, and even works in some occasional animation, by Allen Mezquida, which is a nice touch, production-wise. But unlike “American: The Bill Hicks Story,” another nonfiction snapshot of a cultish stand-up figure, “The Bitter Buddha” doesn’t fully connect the dots between professional water-treading and the sort of stinging personal rejection that seemingly helps keep Pepitone in a state of under-appreciated arrest. Ostensibly, the movie’s arc builds toward a show Pepitone does in Harlem – his first in New York City in nine years, which coincides with the last time his father saw him perform. And seeing some of their interactions definitely informs a reading of the man.

But “The Bitter Buddha,” while passably engaging, is too polite and removed to resonate deeply for a wider audience. When Feinartz gets into Pepitone’s feeding of squirrels at a local park, and love of animals more broadly, or his fitful embrace of meditating in lieu of more personal sharing at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, it hints at the pain and latent psychology of its subject, but then too quickly steps away from conflict and tension. The result is a nice glimpse into Pepitone’s private life for fans, but not a worthy introduction for mainstream documentary fans.

Technical: C+

Story: C-

Overall: C-

Written by: Brent Simon

Bitter Buddha

Processing your request, Please wait....

Do you like this story?

Create an email alert for Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Shockya on Facebook


Latest Movie Reviews


Inferno Movie Review

INFERNO Columbia Pictures Reviewed by: Harvey Karten, Shockya Grade: C Director:  Ron Howard Written by: David Koepp from Dan Brown’s ...


Doctor Strange Movie Review

Title: Doctor Strange Director: Scott Derrickson Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen, Rachel McAdams, Tilda Swinton, ...


Loving Movie Review

LOVING Focus Features Reviewed by: Harvey Karten, Shockya Grade: B+ Director:  Jeff Nichols Written by: Jeff Nichols Cast: Joel Edgerton, Ruth ...

bitter's kiss My God Music Video and Single Review

bitter's kiss My God Music Vid

Band: bitter's kiss; Members: Chloe Baker (vocals/guitar/piano) and Michael Baker (guitar/piano/bass/drums) Single: My God Production: Michael Baker Relying ...


Fai Bei Sogni (Sweet Dreams) M

Title: Fai Bei Sogni (Sweet Dreams) Director: Marco Bellocchio Starring: Valerio Mastrandrea, Barbara Ronchi, Nicolò Cabras,  Guido ...