Get Bruce!

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Get Bruce!

So few worthy documentaries are given the chance to reach a larger audience that it's a shame when a slipshod effort like Get Bruce!, a documentary-cum-promotional video for gag writer and Hollywood Squares fixture Bruce Vilanch, gets marquee stars and the backing of a major studio. A hack writer par excellence, Vilanch's work has lit up TelePrompTers at charity benefits, celebrity roasts, and the holy trinity of gala awards ceremonies (the Oscars, Emmys, and Tonys) for more than a decade. Billy Crystal, Bette Midler, Whoopi Goldberg, Robin Williams, and Paul Reiser all seem to agree that he's the funniest man in show business, but since none of them have been funny for years, it's hard not to correlate their decline with his expanding role in their creative lives. A rotund figure with colorful specs, wild facial hair, and a springy mop of curls, Vilanch has been compared to a muppet, and his appearance has generally kept him behind the scenes. This is unfortunate, because Get Bruce! reveals him to be a funny, immensely likable guy who's content with falling well short of his potential; once his edgy material has been diluted through excessive rewrites, network censoring, and poor comic timing, it loses all trace of his buoyant personality. But such revelations are merely accidental. Director Andrew Kuehn, whose previous credits include the similarly slapped-together horror "documentary" Terror In The Aisles, stages a long, unwarranted curtain call for Vilanch that's as hollow and syrupy as an awards-show tribute.