‘Steve! (Martin) A Documentary in 2 Pieces’ review: From wild and crazy to wry and wise

A portrait of Steve Martin in the documentary on Apple TV’s ‘Steve! (Martin) A Documentary in 2 Pieces’
| Photo Credit: @AppleFilms/X

Morgan Neville’s perceptive portrayal of the captivating Steve Martin in ‘Steve! (Martin) A Documentary in 2 Pieces’ offers us a bi-fold view into the comedian’s life. As viewers, we follow Martin’s iconic comedic stroll, akin to R Crumb’s whimsical ‘Keep On Truckin’ stride, through two lenses. Chronicling his journey from his beginnings as the idiosyncratic “wild and crazy guy” to his current more reflective demeanor, this Apple TV documentary traverses with Martin’s life narrative.

Martin, with his absurdly intelligent humor and his affinity for a good banjo melody, blazed through the entertainment scene in a way only he could. From his nascent days as an amateur magician to becoming the revered ‘King of Comedy’, this film looks into how Martin could stir laughter through his seemingly nonsensical, yet deeply calculated antics, all the while claiming to possess no real talent in his uproariously “dumb” act.

Steve Martin in Apple TV’s ‘Steve! (Martin) A Documentary in 2 Pieces‘ 

Steve Martin depicted in Apple TV’s ‘Steve! (Martin) A Documentary in 2 Pieces‘ 
| Photo Credit:
Apple TV

Compelling home videos, personal snapshots, notes from past performances, and Martin’s own introspections reveal that his rise to fame was rapid. Neville dissects Martin’s distinct comedic approach, which veered away from the political, spotlighting a wholesome, nonsensical style of humor that resonates with the genuine laughter shared among friends — spontaneous and delightfully confusing.

In the 1970s, dressed in a striking white suit and armed with his signature Groucho glasses, Martin’s ascension shook the stand-up scene. His ingenious blend of slapstick and sharp insights left audiences suffused with laughter, eager for more. As a colleague neatly describes, “Martin’s performance transcended standard comedy for a surreal take on the essence of performance and the hilarity inherent in the act of entertaining.”

‘Steve! (Martin) A Documentary in 2 Pieces’ (English)

Creator: Morgan Neville

Cast: Steve Martin, Martin Short, Lorne Michaels, Diane Keaton, Jerry Seinfeld

Episodes: 2

Storyline: Comedian Steve Martin’s journey towards finding joy in his work and personal life.

Runtime: 98 minutes

Never one to shy away from reinvention, Martin later ventured into films, facing mixed reactions. His move from stand-up to cinema brought forth a reflective period, underscored by a curt press encounter reflecting his questioning sense of humor — “Hey Steve, why aren’t you funny anymore?”.

The latter part of the series sees a shift in presentation, abruptly transitioning to the present with Martin contentedly enjoying simple pleasures like poached eggs. Renouncing the limelight, he embraced a private existence within his art-adorned sanctuary. Through heartfelt conversations with Martin, his wife Anne Stringfield, and other industry stalwarts, the series gives us a peek at the challenges during his transition to a movie career, albeit presenting these significant moments as brief “anecdotes.”

Steve Martin in Apple TV’s ‘Steve! (Martin) A Documentary in 2 Pieces‘ 

Steve Martin is featured in Apple TV’s ‘Steve! (Martin) A Documentary in 2 Pieces‘ 
| Photo Credit:
Apple TV

Neville further elevates the narrative with Martin Short, showcasing their enduring camaraderie through scenes of the duo engaging in everyday tomfoolery. Short’s addition of lively absurdity complements Martin’s understated humor, reminding us that two Martins together make the world an even more comical place.

The series begins with Martin reflecting on his initial days in entertainment and ends with the realization that, while starting as a vibrant entertainer, he has morphed into a figure far greater: a comedic trailblazer, an illustrious star, a doting father, and true to his origins, a magician who retains his most intimate secrets.

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