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To Be Takei - Movie Review

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To Be Takei - Movie Review

4 stars

The seemingly impossible rise of the man who played Mr. Sulu in Star Trek many, many moons ago as a modern day cultural icon and gay rights activist is, in itself, worthy of attention. It’s a story that has its beginnings here in America inside bleak internment camps during WWII. From an appearance on Playhouse 90 to a guest shot on Malcom in the Middle, no stone is left unturned in To Be Takei, a charming and interesting look at the life of George Takei.  

George Takei’s twitter feed is on fire with poignancy and his Facebook page is electrically wired with satire and humor. The irony that he is - knee deep in his second act as an entertainer - more relevant than ever is not lost on him nor should it be on his audience. Jennifer Kroot’s documentary is, by design, wonderfully eclectic as it handles what it takes to be Takei with camp and care. Presenting the information in a non-chronological manner, the documentary is simply engrossing from beginning to end. Even if the film is overly flattering toward its subject, everything certainly feels natural and uproarious.

Kroot covers life aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise and allows his favorites – co-stars Nichelle Nichols and Walter Koenig – to weigh in on his reemergence while also discussing their continued friendship. Leonard Nimoy discusses the absolute poetry of Takei’s cultural status in a relative stoic manner and William Shatner hilariously denies he is a friend of Takei’s. The beef between Shatner and Takei is comical and long-standing. It’s also a bit of a joke between the two who play it up for the cameras because, you know, it is good for ratings. If you want the truth, read their biographies.

The film doesn’t shy away from taboo subjects. It delves into his relationship with partner Brad Altman (or “Brad Takei” as most call him) rather quickly and makes it clear that, perhaps, Takei is more famous because he came out of the closet and is still working. Their 25 year long relationship has been key in Takei’s life and, as a result, it is central to this documentary.

From making the waters safe for same-sex game shows to their never-ending crusade for gay rights, the couple’s charming chemistry on the screen is humorous, appealing, and provides the picture with an undeniable rhythm as the two banter back-and-forth. George is effervescent dreamer and Brad the longstanding worrywart. While the focus is on George, both have a robust presence throughout. And their differences are striking, often hilarious, but always endearing.

That famous Takei personality that most of us know from his Facebook and Twitter feeds sits at the helm of To Be Takei, a most surprising film about a wonderful human being. If you are the least bit curious in the life of George Takei, this is a must-see.

To Be Takei - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
90 mins
: Jennifer M. Kroot
George Takei, Brad Takei, Walter Koenig
: Documentary
A star's trek for life, liberty and love.
Memorable Movie Quote: ""
Starz Digital Media
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 22, 2014
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available
Synopsis: Over seven decades, actor and activist George Takei boldly journeyed from a WWII internment camp, to the helm of the starship Enterprise, to the daily news feeds of five million Facebook fans. Join George and his husband Brad on this star's playful and profound trek for life, liberty, and love.

No details available.

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