Written by Atlanta Kroehn
There is no “buzz” like showbiz – Lucy and Desi dedicated their lives to entertainment. In Amy Poehler’s documentary about the famous couple, fans can revel in old footage and witness unknown aspects of their private matters, but without some affinity for Lucy’s and Desi’s form of art, the biopic about the powerful two remains, somewhat bland.
“Lucy, I’m home.”, probably one of Desi Arnaz’ most famous lines, a catchphrase from their 1950s sitcom I Love Lucy, referring to his onscreen and real life wife, the legendary actress and comedian Lucille Ball. While they found each other early in their careers and shared the same passion as well as talent for entertainment, they received different level of attention, were facing different challenges and for sure were coping differently with the downsides of their profession.
All this revisits the documentary which was shown at Sundance 2022 and is now available online since March 4. The documentary offers an incredible amount of source material, such as video footage of early productions, audio recording of the two star and commentary of family members.
Compared to the fictional take on Lucy & Desi’s life, namely the Oscar nominated Being the Ricardos (2021) by Aaron Sorkin, the documentary is definitely presenting a more comprehensive picture of the two biographies and only leaves a few questions unanswered.
Lucy is portrayed as a hard-working artist and self-made woman who was ahead of her time, possessed unmatched courage, demonstrated perfect comedic timing, asserted herself in a world full of mansplaining colleagues and made TV as well as film history. The focus of the documentary is less on Desi, from whom we learn mainly about his early career years, family values and his relationship with his wife. Amy Poehler shines a light on their relationship without being disrespectful.
Probably the most exciting aspect, however, is their contemporary contribution to the emergence of sitcoms and other comedic formats in television entertainment. We can understand artistic decisions on the set and their inspiration. The late career of the two and their gigantic influence on the film industry is only briefly touched upon. Overall, however, the documentary remains somewhat flat and offers little to viewers who have no prior knowledge of the two movie stars.