Director: Benjamin Berman
Cast: The Amazing Johnathan, Eric Andre, Benjamin Berman
Screenplay: Benjamin Berman
91 mins. Not Rated.
I’ve been a big fan of The Amazing Johnathan for years, ever since catching a small set of his on Comedy Central back when Comedy Central showed standup. When I heard that he had become very ill and only given a year to live, it made me incredibly sad, and I recently discovered a documentary from director Benjamin Berman (TV’s Comedy Bang! Bang!) that chronicles his time spent with The Amazing Johnathan as the performer prepared to return to the stage several years after being originally diagnosed. I almost can’t describe it any more than that.
The Amazing Johnathan was given a year to live, and he’s been alive far longer than expected, and filmmaker Benjamin Berman is here to document the artist’s current living situation, but in the process of telling Johnathan’s story, Berman discovers that he is not the only documentarian currently working on The Amazing Johnathan’s life, and as a mystery surrounding this other documentary unfolds, Berman finds the lines between reality and fantasy blurring, leading on a strange odyssey that will make him question everything.
The Amazing Johnathan Documentary is head-scratchingly odd. It’s a film that questions the very nature of documentary filmmaking itself as this head-trip unfolds before the audience. With multiple filmmakers each taking a stab at the story of the famed comedian, lies that he made begin to unravel and a confusingly convoluted narrative takes shape, one that asks questions about life and death and the human fascination with both.
You have to see the film for yourself, and I was equal parts hating and loving it in all its frustrating layers. What I can tell you is this: you won’t believe what’s going on, and you probably shouldn’t believe everything you see. It’s a meth-fueled journey into madness. As I said before, I really hated it. I also really loved it. I’m still not sure how I came out the other end feeling, and I recommend you see it for yourself.
-Kyle A. Goethe