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Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me

Is it okay, if I’m not completely crazy about the Glen Campbell documentary? It’s not my practice to ask permission usually, but the buzz amongst people who’ve actually experienced it, seems to be that you are heartless, if you don’t love the film. Well, I can assure you that I’m not heartless, and that I found most of the chronicle riveting. However, there were quite a few missed opportunities here. For instance, how could it be overlooked that Mr. Campbell starred with John Wayne in the Duke’s Oscar-winning role (1969’s “True Grit”)? The archival footage seems almost thrown together. Plus, there’s an unfortunate (unavoidable?) lean towards sentimentality. In fact, director James Keach applies a rather wayward approach to his subject matter, especially during a segment involving a bunch of notable celebrities talking about how fantastic Campbell is. It’s superfluous, and the doc is at its strongest when focusing on Campbell and his final tour. I felt a little dirty watching his disease slowly overtake him. But its power, as a story, is undeniable.

For those of you that don’t know, an increasingly forgetful Glenn Campbell–a giant country music star, as well as crossover Top 40 sensation–was eventually diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2011. The decision is made to push forward with a concert tour to promote his new album, despite the fact that his short-term memory is beginning to fail him rapidly. As the tour continues, he increasingly loses his place, forgets where to stand, and occasionally rambles. Amazingly, his guitar-playing remains solid (to this amateur observer, anyway), and he easily recalls how to perform most of his songs–with ample help from teleprompters. His fourth wife, and the offspring from that union, are part of the show both musically and behind-the-scenes. Being that Campbell married multiple times and sired eight children, it was tough to ignore that a lot remained unsaid here (google helped in proving that). But, “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me” is a poignant focus on a gifted performer’s battle with a terrible disease. It was also Oscar-nominated for its original song, “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”.

Grade:  B

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