Neil Berkeley’s dynamic, headlong, genially indulgent “Beauty Is Embarrassing” is the most rambunctious art-doc I’ve seen since Jody Lee Lipes’ 2009 “Brock Enright: Good Times Will Never Be the Same”: no deadpan was harmed in this portrait of outsider-insider Los Angeleno artist, puppeteer, performer and unregenerate Southerner Wayne White. White, a multiple Emmy-winner for “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” is a brutally funny, frank, frankly profane narrator of his life and pop-folk work, “blah blah blah fucking blah,” as he puts it. Animated interludes ensue, followed by more giddy, gaudy swears. The most affecting element is Berkeley capturing how White thrives on family and connection: then the art comes easy. With White’s wife, graphic novelist Mimi Pond, Mark Mothersbaugh, Gary Panter, Cliff Benjamin, Matt Groening, Tony Crow and directing team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (“Little Miss Sunshine”), who worked with White on Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight Tonight” and other videos. 90m. (Ray Pride)
“Beauty is Embarrassing” plays Friday-Saturday, Monday-Tuesday and Thursday at Siskel.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.