Take a Drink: whenever Elaine makes you laugh out loud
Take a Drink: for each musical number
Take a Drink: for throaty F-bombs
Take a Drink: for talk of aging or mortality
Take a Drink: whenever she flubs or forgets a line
Do a Shot: in honor of one of the Greats
Do Another: when James Gandolfini shows up
And a Third: when you see a picture of Robin Williams
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
I’m not really a Broadway kinda guy, so my one and only exposure to the genius of Elaine Stritch was her role as Jack Donaghy’s mom on 30 Rock. One endearment for how much she nails that role is that when I heard that there was a documentary coming out about her, I thought, “Hell yeah, I’d watch that!”
I liked Frank, too, but no way I’m watching a Judah Friedlander doc
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me is simple, really- a documentary following Elaine Stritch around as she reminisces about her storied past, records episodes of 30 Rock, and prepares for and delivers her one-woman stage show all while interacting in her patented cranky, witty, and razor-sharp manner with everyone from Tina Fey to elevator attendants.
A tragic wrinkle occurred between my learning of this film and my being able to watch it- the grand dame of stage and screen passed away at the age of 89. This recasts this documentary from an enjoyable but not terribly deep-delving overview of an extremely, multiple-talented starlet in the twilight of her career to that, sure, plus a poignant examination of aging and mortality, and the different, conflicting ways we face it, even within our own psyches. As in everything, nothing can make Elaine Stritch back down, and in this documentary she not only discusses her viewpoints on growing old and facing the inevitable end, but also allows it to show how she really reacts when the cards are down and she’s heading for the hospital, perhaps for the last time.
I’m sure Death had his hands full with this one.
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me is not all deep questions and morbidity. Far from it. Stritch allows the filmmakers incredible access, and in all situations it appears that she’s exactly the cantankerous, profane, “difficult”, straight-shooting, and utterly hilarious person that she appears to be on 30 Rock. It’s a pleasure to just hang out with her and listen to stories from an incredible career, which links up getting hit on by JFK and Kirk Douglas to trading barbs with the King of Krank, Alec Baldwin.
The only person alive who could punch a puppy, surprise no one with the act, and still eventually get away with it.
Style and structure-wise, the entire idea behind the film appears to be “point the camera at Elaine, then let her take it from there.” More of a thesis would have made a stronger product. Also, some scenes in the film, particularly her diabetic attack, are admirably unvarnished, but also tough to watch, especially for those expecting a more comical lark of a film.
Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me is an entertaining and sometimes touching portrait of one of the toughest, most talented broads in show business, the late, great Elaine Stritch.