Remembering Gene Wilder (2024) Review

By Allison Rose   X Formly Known as Twitter
3 Min Read

Remembering Gene Wilder is a fitting tribute to not only the actor but to the man himself and how he lived his life.

Remembering Gene Wilder (2024) Review

Jerome Silberman was born in 1933 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. When he was 8 years old his mother had a heart attack and the doctor told him to not make her cry. From that moment on comedian Gene Wilder was born. In his infancy, he joined a local theater and learned his craft, setting the stage for what was yet to come. At the age of 18, he got his first professional acting job at a theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and eventually made his way to Broadway.

A dozen years after becoming a working actor, Wilder met Anne Bancroft's boyfriend, Mel Brooks, who, three years later, would offer Wilder a role in his new film, The Producers (originally titled Springtime For Hitler). With that success came more movie roles and a partnership that would last the rest of Gene's and Mel's lives. This, among other stories, is chronicled in the new documentary, Remembering Gene Wilder.

In 2005 Wilder wrote his autobiography, Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art, and subsequently narrated the audiobook, allowing director Ron Frank (The Naked Truth) to use Wilder's words as spoken by Wilder himself. Opening the film this way makes a large impact on the viewer as if he is personally inviting us into his life. The film then spends the next hour and thirty minutes flip-flopping between Wilder's narration and interviews with family and friends who knew him best.

From Mr. Brooks to Gene's second wife, Karen, there is no shortage of individuals who not only sing his praises as an actor but who revel in reminiscing about his warmth and sincerity as a human being. Eric McCormack (Will and Grace) remembers learning from the elder statesman of comedic acting while he played a character on the hit television series and Peter Ostrum fondly recalls how Wilder treated the young newcomer on the set of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. He also discusses the final scene where he had very little idea of what his co-star was going to say or do until it came time to shoot it. Other guests include Harry Connick Jr. (Hope Floats), Alan Alda (M*A*S*H*), Brooks, Karen Wilder, and Carol Kane (The Princess Bride).

Throughout the movie, much of Wilder's film career is chronicled. From his earlier works like The Producers and Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory to his first co-writing credit, Young Frankenstein, and his more recent collaboration, Silver Streak with Richard Pryor (Stir Crazy), there are gems of comedy gold that highlight Wilder's immense talent. It also showed Wilder's courage taken on riskier movie topics like those in Blazing Saddles and See No Evil, Hear No Evil.

Of course, the movie also touches upon his personal life from his complicated relationship with Pryor, as discussed by Pryor's daughter, Rain, to his relationship with Gilda Radner, their marriage, her illness and premature death from cancer. Wilder's wife Karen heartbreakingly talks about the early signs of Gene's illness, his subsequent diagnosis, and the end of his life.

While Frank uses some melancholy music embedded into the background of the film as well as old interviews with Wilder, it is the film clips and commentary from friends that truly bring this documentary to life. Those moments remind the audience what a singular talent Wilder was and how funny he could be portraying the straight guy in his films. Especially of note is his work on Young Frankenstein. Before watching this movie, I had forgotten just how funny that film was.

Remembering Gene Wilder is a fitting tribute to not only the actor but to the man himself and how he lived his life. He was able to touch people with a simple look or a well-placed, deadpan, spoken line, both of which are rare talents to possess.

If you remember the actor and his films this movie will take you down memory lane and help you rediscover one of the greatest, comedic talents ever to grace the big screen.

Grade: A-

Watch on Apple TV

For more information about Remembering Gene Wilder visit the FlickDirect Movie Database. For more reviews by Allison Rose please click here.

Remembering Gene Wilder images are courtesy of Kino Lorber. All Rights Reserved.

FlickDirect, Allison   Rose

Allison Rose, a Senior Correspondent and Critic at FlickDirect, is a dynamic presence in the entertainment industry with a communications degree from Hofstra University. She brings her film expertise to KRMS News/Talk 97.5 FM and broadcast television, and is recognized as a Tomatometer-Approved Critic. Her role as an adept event moderator in various entertainment industry forums underscores her versatility. Her affiliations with SEFCA, the Florida Film Critics Circle, and the Online Film Critics Society highlight her as an influential figure in film criticism and media.


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