Documentary STEVE! Offers Three Very Funny Hours of Steve Martin | Opinions | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

Documentary STEVE! Offers Three Very Funny Hours of Steve Martin 

Steve Martin has had an unusually long and multifaceted career. He was a groundbreaking stand-up comedian, starting in the ‘70s, doing very inventive things. He was a frequent presence on Saturday Night Live in its first decade despite never officially joining the cast, and he has continued occasional SNL appearances ever since. 

In the early 1980s, Martin abandoned stand-up abruptly and enjoyed a long run as a comedy movie star and later occasional dramatic roles (where he would “reach for the hair dye,” someone jokes). Then, Martin became a first-time father at age 67, and then, in his 70s, is the star of one more hit TV series, Only Murders in the Building. 

And all throughout, he’s played the banjo very prolifically. And while he often affected an arrogant persona, especially in his SNL appearances, Martin is one of the few famous people who seems like everybody likes.

Now, Martin’s long life and career is the subject of a new Apple TV+ documentary called STEVE! (Martin): A Documentary in Two Pieces

If you’ve been a fan of any aspect of Steve Martin’s career, you’re going to enjoy this. 

Directed by Morgan Neville, who directed the Oscar-winning 20 Feet From Stardom and made previous docs about the similarly beloved likes of Mr. Rodgers and Anthony Bourdain, the “in two pieces” doesn’t just refer to the three-hour documentary arriving in two parts.

In Two Pieces

The first half deals with Martin’s upbringing and his rise from “shy kid” to one of the world’s most successful comedians, leading up to his decision to quit stand-up comedy in 1981. 

The second half… is very different. Sure, it explores Martin’s work since 1983, including the bulk of his movie career and the rise of Only Murders. But the film’s second half is much more reflective, featuring plentiful footage of Martin and those close to him on camera telling honest stories. We even meet his young daughter, although a cartoon image blocks her.

Neville is great with archival footage, and he’s got plenty to work with here, from the old stand-up stuff to The Jerk to all the SNL appearances. 

(There’s also none of that weird AI voice thing that Neville’s Anthony Bourdain film got dinged for, although it certainly helps that his subject is still alive this time.) 

It all marks a fine companion to last year’s Albert Brooks: Defending My Life, another career-spanning documentary about a comedy figure that gives younger audiences a taste of how out-there the man’s comedy was back in the ‘70s. 

STEVE! (Martin): A Documentary in Two Pieces landed on Apple TV+ on March 29. 

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