Generally favorable reviews - based on 12 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 12
  2. Negative: 0 out of 12
  1. Reviewed by: Lou Lumenick
    Jun 7, 2012
    Williams, who was elected president of ASCAP in 2009, speaks frankly and eloquently about his problems dealing with fame, and his recovery. And more important, he earns our thanks by resolutely refusing to let Kessler turn this into a clich├ęd documentary.
  2. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Jun 21, 2012
    The movie is fascinating, though it smacks its own lips a bit too much at the tackiness of freak '70s stardom.
  3. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Jul 28, 2012
    What makes the movie so good is Williams' absolute refusal to play along.
  4. Reviewed by: Andy Webster
    Jun 7, 2012
    Mr. Williams's quiet integrity trumps Mr. Kessler at every turn. Self-aware and articulate, with a modesty born from confidence, he persistently uses the film to extol - and demonstrate - the rewards of recovery. His conviction brings necessary moral weight to Paul Williams: Still Alive, which transcends caricature to emerge an impressive personal testament.
  5. Reviewed by: Keith Uhlich
    Jun 5, 2012
    The oft-hilarious push-and-pull between director and subject - Williams wryly notes that the film is turning into "the Steve and Paulie Show" - effectively hacks away at the celebrity-enthusiast divide. By the end of this perceptive dual portrait, both men are content to merely be human.
  6. Reviewed by: Kirk Honeycutt
    Jun 5, 2012
    The film has a winning combination for all sorts of platforms as the story is highly intriguing and the music speaks, or rather sings, for itself.
  7. Reviewed by: Joe Leydon
    Jun 5, 2012
    An engrossing and satisfying picture, one that can be enjoyed even by people who have never before heard of its subject.
  8. Reviewed by: Inkoo Kang
    Jun 13, 2012
    Too bad the film's obscure star will be a hard sell to non-music geeks or anyone born after 1965, because this film's a blast.
  9. Reviewed by: Chris Packham
    Jun 5, 2012
    Johnny Carson loved him, and Williams had the credits to back himself up: As with Jimmy Webb, you could probably sing many of his songs without knowing that he's the author.
  10. Reviewed by: Noel Murray
    Jun 6, 2012
    The footage in Paul Williams Still Alive - old and new - is highly entertaining, even moving. But it's as though Kessler recorded the DVD commentary track first, then made the movie.
  11. Reviewed by: Andrew Schenker
    Jun 5, 2012
    The film too often undercuts its goals by indulging its director's need for self-affirmation at the expense of the movie's far more compelling central subject.
  12. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Jun 7, 2012
    Kessler has indeed made a film about a fame-chasing narcissist in desperate need of attention. But that has nothing to do with the guy we came to see.
User Score

No user score yet- Awaiting 2 more ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. Lyn
    Jun 1, 2013
    Sometimes a documentary's narrator takes a vital or heart-rending role that helps explore the subject. ("My Architect," for example.) But this is not one of those times. Stephen Kessler continually inserts himself in ways that actually detract from his subject. Wish he would have spend less time navel-gazing and more time framing questions Paul Williams's fans would love to see answered! However, I was deeply affected by PW's work as Kessler sincerely was and am glad he made the film. He did provide an update on Williams and capture him as the lovable, sensitive, down-to-earth guy we always felt he was. Full Review »
  2. Apr 23, 2013
    I was recently reminded that a person dies three deaths: 1) their corporeal death, 2) when everyone who ever knew you has also died and 3) when your name is spoken for the last time, ever. I'm in favor of forestalling the latter as long as possible by making sure we learn from as much as we can about those who directly and indirectly had a significant influence on our culture. Those who made their mark in the arts are especially vulnerable to being forgotten early due to our capricious tastes.

    (You know, I'm surprised to see no one had reviewed this yet. Hmmm....)

    The documentary succeeds because of the subject, Paul Williams. If you like music, I highly recommend you see this. This way, when one of your contemporary music idols mentions how one of Paul Williams songs influenced them or, indirectly, through one of their own influences, you'll know what of they speak.

    Surprisingly entertaining. (Well, not that surprising seeing as I'd checked out Metacritic before renting it!)

    Regardless, Paul Williams is one who, despite a great body of work, I'd expected to be relatively uninteresting in this day and age. Fortunately, I went with the reviews and am pleased I did.

    Full Review »