‘STEVE! (Martin), A Documentary in Two Pieces’ Review: Plenty to Like

Kenny Miles reviews STEVE! (Martin), A Documentary in Two Pieces, an enjoyable and fairly all-encompassing documentary series.

Morgan Neville’s STEVE! (Martin), a documentary in two pieces chronicles the life and career of Steve Martin, one of the great comedic actors. The thoughtful two-part doc is starkly different from one another but works well to complement each other as a whole portrait of Steve Martin. His career spans from The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, The “Father of the Bride” 90s remake, going viral for playing the banjo, and recently, Hulu series “Only Murders in the Building” and ‘Two Pieces’ covers his whole life. 

“Then”

In his own words, Martin got his start playing tricks at a magic shop and went from an internationally recognized wild and crazy guy. There was a fun scene in which the people who greeted him after his show were very excited to meet him, which embodies just how big of a deal Steve Martin was back in this heyday, having one of the most successful tours of that era.

Audiences will laugh a lot watching this documentary portion because of Steve Martin’s humor and perspective on comedy. There were so many goofy moments that amused both the audience watching him and even Steve himself. 

Part one uses archival footage and various animation styles in a fun way to highlight his persona, telling the story of his career and life with humor and heart. This lovely breezy part is infused with Morgan Neville touches of comforting nostalgia and insightful grace. Narrated by Steve himself, which gives us an intimate revelation and heartfelt vulnerability.  

See Also: ‘American Fiction’ Review: Black Writes

“Now” 

Part two of the documentary picks up in a modern-day setting as Steve Martine prepares for a stage show with Martin Short and wraps up his illustrated memoir “Number One Is Walking: My Life in the Movies and Other Diversions.” His reflections on life in the modern world with his friends and loved ones, who ask excellent questions, contrast with part one. 

Morgan Neville takes a more verité approach to some scenes ingrained with the standard celebrity doc filmmaking we have come to see (which makes this hybrid doc perfect for Apple’s streaming service). With a more melancholy tone overall, ‘Now’ feels less focused thematically. It is almost like all the footage was gathered; they didn’t know how to put it together, so they just made two parts of a doc. Separating the two parts is so stylistically different that it is jarring at first, but they still complement each other after thinking it over.

I could watch a three-hour documentary about his life and his talking, and I know there will be many fans of both. 

STEVE! (Martin), a documentary in two pieces will be available to stream on Apple TV+ starting March 29, 2024

Written by
Kenny admired film criticism as a child when his mother wrote a positive review of Home Alone in his small town Arkansas newspaper and defended it against angry Letters to the Editor. Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies especially the cultural impact of a film, if something is overlooked by Hollywood, or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, specialty releases, an auteur director, a unique premise, branding, and THE much infamous "awards season." Kenny currently lives in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. When he isn’t writing, Kenny channels his passion working as an events marketing coordinator. He spends many Friday nights exit polling for CinemaScore (and his opinions are his own).

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