“Tribute documentaries about famous folk tend to be fairly similar, especially if the subjects are still living. They mainly say that the celebrity is a pretty darn wonderful person — modest but brilliant, witty, accomplished as all get out, rich, fascinating, compassionate, loves his/her life, good with kids, pets dogs.
“Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing‘s Norman Lear: Just Another Version Of You pretty much sticks to this formula.
“I could call it a cut or two above the usual, certainly from a technical standpoint, but Lear, the 93 year-old creator-writer-producer of such legendary ’70s TV series All In the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time and The Jeffersons, is never presented as anything but the most happy and wonderful fella.
“Which he may well be for the most part, but c’mon — everyone has known hurt, failure, shame, regrets. Everyone has aspects of their nature they wish they could iron out or refine. Everyone experiences nightmare flashes from time to time. Including the very wealthiest.
“The doc gets into Lear’s feelings about his father but not all that deeply. Grady and Ewing never elicit a single semi-critical remark about Lear from the famous talking heads (Rob Reiner, George Clooney, et, al.). It was obvious during the post-screening q & a that Lear can be a snappy dictatorial type who knows how to crack a whip, but there wasn’t a hint of this in the doc.” — from my 1.22.16 Sundance review.