Last night I had the pleasure to attend a viewing of the new movie "Certifiably Jonathan" at the Quad Cinema in Manhattan. I had heard so much about the making of the film from my good friend Matt Fortnow, who was an executive producer on the project, as it was conceived back in 2003.
It's about the legendary comedian Jonathan Winters. Director Jim Pasternak conceived a documentary about him after meeting Jonathan and seeing some of his art work, which has been one of Jonathan's lifelong passions.
The movie begins as a documentary, but it evolves into a "mockumentary" in the "This Is Spinal Tap" sort of way. (A man who saw the film before us made that same comparison after seeing it, and absolutely loved the movie.) Jonathan is commissioned to do three paintings for the Museum of Modern Art in New York, but disaster strikes, as one of his most beloved paintings is stolen out of a gallery in L.A., and he loses his sense of humor and can't paint.
So the hunt is on getting it back. And Jonathan takes us on quite a ride.
Many comedians and fans of Jonathan make cameo appearances, like Robert Klein (who spoke at the Q&A live after the film), Robin Williams, Jimmy Kimmel, and Tim Conway. It was also a pleasure to see some old clips of Jonathan on the Jack Paar Show, and an appearance by him and his family with Edward R. Murrow back in the late 1950s.
The film is a loving tribute "through the surreal mind of a comedy legend" and the filmmakers explained afterwards that it was Jonathan's idea to go the route they did. The movie has received lukewarm reviews so far, but don't let that stop you from seeing the film. I enjoyed the movie, and I'm sure Jonathan's loyal following will, too. It will be playing at the Quad, which is on West 13th Street in Manhattan, until next Thursday.