Thursday, October 10, 2013

879. CRUMB (1994)

Running Time: 119 minutes
Directed By: Terry Zwigoff
Main Cast: Robert Crumb, Charles Crumb, Aline Kaminsky, Maxon Crumb, Robert Hughes
Click here to view the trailer


As I sat down to watch a movie last night, the only thoughts in my head were, "Please God, let this be something good. I NEED something good!". Following the watching and reviewing of "Satantango", "Crumb" was just what the doctor ordered!

For the unaware, "Crumb" is a documentary feature about the life and rise to fame of underground, controversial cartoonist Robert Crumb, better known to his fans as R. Crumb and to the public as the creator of Fritz the Cat. Not only does the film chronicle the life of Robert, but also climbs a little higher on his family tree and shows the lifestyles of his brothers, Charles and Maxon. Charles Crumb, a suicidal, recluse who lives with his mother, confining himself to a book filled room, is constantly doped up on anti-depressants. Robert's other brother, Maxon (or Max) lives at a hotel and also clearly has depression and anxiety issues. We learn that the troubling adulthood of the three boys could have been caused by an overbearing, tyrant of a father who physically punished the boys on a regular basis. In addition to the family lifestyles, we also get a heaping helping of Robert's career, getting to see hundreds of his drawings, many of which he shows off personally and describes the motivation behind them. In the 60s and 70s, Crumb became controversial for his less than flattering portrayal of women and his elevated sexual overtones. Robert also discusses his sexual interests and how those interests have sculpted and sometimes defined his drawings.

Charles Crumb
Man, it's just so hard to write about a documentary. It has been a while since I've reviewed one (perhaps the Michael Moore ones?) and I kind of forget how to do it, to be honest with you. Documentary pictures are odd in that you either take to the subject matter or you don't, meaning you pretty much either love it or hate it. Growing up and still today, my brother was a self professed comic book nerd, so I'd actually heard the name Robert Crumb mentioned a few times (not that my brother read any of Crumb's stuff - strictly superheroes for him). Also, gracing my DVD shelf is a copy of "American Splendor", a biopic starring Paul Giamatti, about the life of Harvey Pekar, who wrote the comic book of the same name, which was sometimes drawn by Crumb. With all that being said, I took to the subject matter and loved what I saw. Not only was it a straight up documentary about one man's rise to fame and his refusal to sell out, but also a portrait of his childhood, what sculpted his eccentric personality and the troubled lives of his two brothers. You don't have to have an interest in comic books to come out of this film with a positive critique. All you have to have is an interest in people and their - what can be sometimes considered weird - behavior.

RATING: 8/10  Okay, so that wasn't really a review, so much as me blabbing for a couple of paragraphs and letting my rating speak for itself. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. We'll get 'em next time!


October 10, 2013  2:16pm


  1. OK, I think we can get back to some sort of agreement on this..
    Perhaps a bit of a 'awful fascination' came with this... a peek into a life that .. well, you have to feel grateful did not happen to you.
    I've never been all that sure about Crumb's work. This feels a bit odd after what must have sounded like a heavy endorsement of 60's ish counter culture in my response to 'Forest Gump'... but Crumb often left a bad taste in my mouth for his attitude towards women and sex... I felt a bit grubby after spending some time with him in this film and preyed he never got given a job as a school caretaker.
    But, as an film insight into a character.. a good one.

    1. Oh, I 100% agree with you Ray. I too felt the sensation of my skin crawling after watching this, because these are the type of people I just don't want to have anything to do with. Nonetheless, fascinating...

      I actually kept thinking to myself, during my watching of this, "What must Ray think of us Americans? I hope he doesn't think we're all like this!".


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