Metascore
55

Mixed or average reviews - based on 12 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 12
  2. Negative: 0 out of 12
  1. Reviewed by: Dan Jolin
    Apr 4, 2011
    80
    From his early days doing stand-up at the age of 15 in Houston, Texas, to his membership of the Texas Outlaws comedy collective, to his supremacy as a brilliant controversist, American tells the story of comedian Bill Hicks' tragically short life through the eyes of those who lived it with him.
  2. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Apr 14, 2011
    75
    There simply isn't enough footage of their protagonist just being Bill Hicks the guy and not Bill Hicks the comic. Surely he had some interviews or other artifacts they could have used along with all the comedy routines.
  3. Reviewed by: Kevin Thomas
    Apr 14, 2011
    70
    Posthumous albums and now this film are securing his legacy and enduring influence.
  4. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Apr 4, 2011
    70
    A portrait of the short-lived artist that will move fans while letting the uninitiated witness enough onstage highlights to leave them wanting more.
  5. Reviewed by: Jeannette Catsoulis
    Apr 7, 2011
    60
    An oddly sterile documentary inspired by a particularly fecund imagination, American: The Bill Hicks Story recounts a bright-burning life while leaving us mostly in the dark.
  6. Reviewed by: Matthew Love
    Apr 6, 2011
    60
    Hicks is undoubtedly missed, but this attempt to commune with this social critic's spirit falls frustratingly short of his brilliance.
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Leydon
    Apr 4, 2011
    60
    A hagiographic portrait of the standup comic and social satirist who never quite reached beyond cult status in the U.S., American: The Bill Hicks Story might have impressed more of the unconverted had it included more performance footage of its subject.
  8. Reviewed by: Ian Buckwalter
    Apr 7, 2011
    58
    There's a great deal of promise and potential in the idea of a documentary study of Hicks. Unfortunately, American falls short of anything beyond the ordinary. Part of the problem is the difficulty in resisting the temptation to squeeze the comic's story into the familiar confines of a VH1 Behind the Music-style template.
  9. Reviewed by: J.R. Jones
    Apr 28, 2011
    50
    Main drawback is a relative dearth of clips showing Hicks in his ferocious prime, so if you come away from this wondering what all the fuss is about.
  10. Reviewed by: Nathan Rabin
    Apr 7, 2011
    50
    Like "Man In The Moon," American applies a thick gloss of reverence and sentimentality to the story of a comic pioneer who made his living challenging the kinds of neat, convenient, slickly packaged narratives presented here.
  11. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Apr 5, 2011
    50
    Hicks's shtick is so good and his life so ordinary that it's hard to escape the feeling that we might've been better off just watching a compilation of the groundbreaking funnyman's work.
  12. 40
    This foreign view of the subject is anthropologically useful, however the film's photo animation technique transforms family photos (used extensively to fill in historical plot holes) into something that resembles zombie-resurrection.

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