Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: 'To Be Takei', Starring George Takei and Brad Altman

When thinking back on the original Star Trek series, mentions of William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy are easy to come by. What's not as prevalent is the name of Lieutenant Sulu, then portrayed by George Takei. In a typecast Hollywood world for minorities, Takei (pronounced "Ta-kay") was a breath of fresh air because he played an Asian who wasn't a walking stereotype on a show that was . To Be Takei obviously gives us a lot of George Takei, his life and career, which proves to be an entertaining and informative watch.   

A favorite on The Howard Stern Show, what many people may not know about George
Takei is that, at 77 years old, he's as charming as ever, genuine, positive, and very, very honest. The honesty seems to ooze from him in waves and as he talks about his life--his past, present, and how he's changed through experience--you can tell immediately that he's not some self-absorbed person who thinks the world revolves around him. The film covers, in a non-linear fashion, growing up in his family, his time spent at the awful Japanese-American interment camps during World War II, his career, and his social justice work. 

"Obviously I like attention," Takei states. But hey, what working actor doesn't? It's all a part of being in the business, and as we go along Takei's journey, it's obvious that this attention fuels him in his responsibilities as an advocate for people's rights, justice, and gay marriage. The film offers us more than just George Takei, the actor. It shows us his many sides, from attending comic con and being around his fans, to his appearances and speeches at many events around the country, and his relationship with husband Brad Altman. 

The film is charming and thoroughly enjoyable. Even if you're not a big fan of Takei's work or you didn't know much about him before, sitting through this film isn't hard. He's been through some pretty horrible things and life-changing experiences, but the positive energy and outlook on life makes him so endearing. His sense of humor and commentary will make you crack a smile over the course of the film. 

To Be Takei is as natural as Takei is in front of the camera and during public speeches. It's vibrant, interesting, and enjoyable. There are fun pokes at William Shatner, who appears in the film, along with Leonard Nimoy, John Cho, and a myriad of others. The deep and clipped way he speaks doesn't hurt either, as his booming and strong voice is what makes people listen when he's talking about something important. At best, you'll be entertained by Takei's life story, commentary, and humor. At worst, you'll learn about a man who's lived a diverse and interesting life. in the end, just remember that "it's ok to be Takei".

Release Date: August 22, 2014 | Director and Writer: Jennifer M. Kroot | Cast: George Takei, Brad Altman, Walter Koenig, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, John Cho, Nichelle Nichols, Lea Salonga

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