Review: ‘The Bitter Buddha’

By turns robustly amusing and wistfully melancholy, "The Bitter Buddha" persuasively argues that attention must be paid to Eddie Pepitone, a fiftysomething Los Angeles standup comic who hasn't yet graduated from cult favorite to breakthrough success.

By turns robustly amusing and wistfully melancholy, “The Bitter Buddha” persuasively argues that attention must be paid to Eddie Pepitone, a fiftysomething Los Angeles standup comic who hasn’t yet graduated from cult favorite to breakthrough success. Widely admired as “a comic’s comic” by better-known peers — some of whom, including Sarah Silverman and Patton Oswalt, offer oncamera testimonials — Pepitone appears understandably frustrated by his relative obscurity, but determined to pursue what he unironically calls “the big career.” Steven Feinartz’s well-crafted docu may provide the boost he needs if this pic finds the aud it merits in VOD and limited release.

Pepitone — whose appearance and demeanor suggest an angrier yet more enlightened version of Paulie, Rocky Balboa’s underachieving brother-in-law — rants about humiliating auditions and unresponsive audiences. But the picture isn’t entirely bleak: He seems to land frequent if not remunerative club gigs and online-media work. And while he admits to battling personal demons, he also acknowledges his “flash anger” is high-octane fuel for his humor. Snippets of his show at Manhattan’s Gotham Comedy Club indicate why he might be an acquired taste, and why those who acquire that taste find him hilarious.

The Bitter Buddha

Documentary

Production

A Gravitas Ventures release of a Cheremoya Films production. Produced by Mikki Rosenberg, Steven Feinartz. Executive producers, Daniel Smekhov, Spencer Willis, Brad Rutter, Neil Bagg. Co-producers, Matthew Braun, Tyler Condon. Directed by Steven Feinartz.

Crew

Camera (color), Alex Sax, Danny Garcia; editors, Daniel Russell, Feinartz; music, Andrew Sit; animation, Allen Mezquida; sound, Daniel J. Clark; associate producers, Mezquida, Kevin Crowley. Reviewed on VOD, Houston, Feb. 20, 2013. (In Slamdance Film Festival.) Running time: 90 MIN.

With

Eddie Pepitone, Robert Pepitone, Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Jen Kirkman, B.J. Novak, Paul Provenza, Dana Gould, Todd Glass.
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