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Sleeper of the Week: ‘To Be Takei’

Sleeper of the Week: 'To Be Takei'

 Sleeper of the Week takes a film that a only few critics have seen and shines some
light on it.

“To Be Takei”
Dir: Jennifer M. Kroot, Bill Weber
Criticwire Grade: A-

For most of his career, George Takei was primarily known for his supporting role as Sulu on “Star Trek.” But in 2005, Takei became a gay icon when he publicly came out in an interview with “Frontiers” magazine. The new documentary “To Be Takei,” which is now available on demand, takes a look behind Takei’s life and his late-career resurgence.

Fans of Takei will be interested in his struggles against discrimination before he made it on “Star Trek.” The film covers his stay in an internment camp during World War II, not to mention the racist stereotypes he had to play in order to get work. But the film also looks at how Takei has been a trailblazer for gay rights and acceptance, and it serves as a perfect tribute to a man whose perseverance and charm warms the hearts of Trekkies and non-Trekkies alike, one “oh my” at a time.

More from the Criticwire Network:

Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

Much like “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” “To Be Takei” takes us up close and personal with a hard-working (there’s even the requisite filled-in-appointment-book scene) pop culture icon who has survived life struggles and discrimination and emerged late in life more popular than ever. Oh my, indeed. Read more.

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

Outside of the sweet, amusing peeks at the couple’s home life, however, “To Be Takei” mainly outlines Takei’s career by drawing a contrast between his uneven early days and more recent successes as a public figure. Kroot hilariously pokes at the not-so-subtle sexual dimensions of the original “Star Trek,” particularly in relation to Takei’s character, and explores his frustrations with playing racist Asian stereotypes before he hit it big. Takei’s secretive life forms a telling contrast with his public choices after his decision to come out, when he makes up for lost time at every chance he gets — from the “It’s OK to be Takei” campaign to his routine appearances on The Howard Stern Show, where he once denied being gay and has since become the show’s mascot of sexual freedom. Read more.

Kristy Puchko, Cinema Blend

Ultimately, “To Be Takei” is radiant with the joy of the man has captured the hearts and imaginations of untold fans. It left me smiling ear to ear, and with some serious food for thought. The doc is more than a charming look into the life of a charismatic and eccentric celebrity. It’s a political call to action in the most affable way possible. Read more.

Drew Taylor, The Playlist

That’s not to say that “To Be Takei” is a poor documentary; far from it. It’s a lot of fun to watch. And captures, to one degree or another, just how important Takei has been, both to popular culture and the political landscape something that should not be taken lightly. By the end of its slender 90-minute running time, though, you’ll wish that “To Be Takei” had been more like its subject—impossible to pin down and uncomfortably hilarious. Read more.

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