By Mark Saldana

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)

Richard Pryor is arguably the greatest comedian of all time. From his early, more family friendly style in the early sixties through his raw, honest and profane material in the seventies and eighties, Richard could make people laugh. However, he could also make people think seriously about racism and the Black American experience.

With this immense talent, came much pain and hurt inside. Richard would struggle with drug abuse and a wild lifestyle that nearly killed him. A new extraordinary documentary examines the life and career of Richard Pryor and does so quite honestly. After all, the comedian would not have it any other way.

Writer/director Jesse James Miller has made a beautifully candid and moving documentary with I Am Richard Pryor. Miller presents Pryor’s story in a way that not only addresses the more controversial aspects of the artist’s life, it honors and celebrates his tremendous talent. The film treats Richard Pryor not only as a legend, but mostly as a person who experienced and felt real pain.   He channelled this hurt through his art and tried to drown it with his drug use. It is an excellent documentary I must highly recommend. Tonight, the film makes its television debut on the Paramount Network and will screen one more time at SXSW (Saturday, March 16, 2:00 p.m., at the AFS Cinema).

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