The new Evel Knievel documentary “Being Evel,” which will screen at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, has received upbeat reviews so far.
The documentary on the famous daredevil and Butte native debuted at the high-profile Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, on Sunday.
Reviewer Drew Taylor of Indiewire.com calls the movie a “death-defying treat:”
“But what makes the new documentary 'Being Evel' such a propulsive, rocket-powered kick is that it gets behind the swagger and investigates what drove the man to risk his life, time and time again,” writes Taylor. “As Johnny Carson once put it, Knievel was ‘the only man in history who has become very wealthy by trying to kill himself.’”
Entertainment Weekly reports that “Being Evel” tells the "real story" of “the charismatic showman who discovered the most lucrative way to support his family was to risk life and limb in highly orchestrated and heavily promoted motorcycle leaps.”
“Being Evel” is produced by Johnny Knoxville, notorious stuntman and actor; BMX athlete Mat Hoffman; and Jeff Tremaine. Known to local fans, Hoffman performed at Evel Knievel Days last summer in Uptown Butte.
Los Angeles Times reporter Steve Zeitchik places the main subject in interesting if not notorious company:
“Movies about author David Foster Wallace, musician Kurt Cobain, National Lampoon and martial-arts actor Chuck Norris are all at the festival this year,” writes Zeitchik. “So is an offering about the decidedly modern persona of Evel Knievel — produced, for good measure, by that quintessence of 21st century ditch-the-rules abandon, Johnny Knoxville.”
In the trailer, director Daniel Junge said he made the film in order to reconcile his conflicted feelings about Knievel, his childhood hero.
“And yet I’ve always had a certain amount of ambivalence about him after I learned that he assaulted his promoter,” said Junge. “That really precipitated his fall from grace. Our intention was to present the man with unflinching honesty, warts and all, but also to celebrate what he’s done for our culture and the unbelievable life that he led.”
Knoxville, best known for his over-the-top, rebellious “Jackass” MTV reality series and movies, said Knievel was his idol, too.
“I think we’re hovering right somewhere in between bravery and stupidity,” Knoxville told Entertainment Weekly. “Possibly more on the stupidity side.”
The producers reexamine Knievel’s popular jumps, his relationships, and behind-the-scenes drama. The movie also features insights from current action sports superstars who were inspired by Knievel.
“We take a very honest look back on his life,” said Knoxville. “He lived a certain way, and we talk about that. We worked a lot with Kelly Knievel (Knievel’s oldest son) and the family and couldn’t have made it without the family being involved.”