By Kevin Hoskinson
Going into this film, I knew absolutely nothing about its subject, Richard Lett. He’s a pretty big deal on the Vancouver, B.C. comedy scene, but not very well known in America and beyond. At the start, he’s described as Canada’s George Carlin, and that got me very interested to hear his story. Throughout the movie, we see parts of his act and the behind the scenes drama that accompanies them and let me tell you; it’s fascinating.
Never Be Done isn’t just your average documentary about a stand-up comedian as he goes on tour. It could have easily been about that and his trials and tribulations while trying to stay employed on stage. In fact, by the time the film is over, you have forgotten that he was a comedian in the first place. What they pull off in this film is a story about redemption and recovery with a subject who just so happens to be a stand-up comedian.
Let me fill you in on some details about who Richard Glen Lett is. He’s brash, rude, and a little bit harsh. He has the raspy voice of a man who drinks heavily and smokes almost constantly. He’s unapologetic with his act, often almost coming to blows with others who disagree with him. In short, he’s Canada’s George Carlin. He has been banned from numerous comedy clubs in Vancouver and barely scrapes by doing the shows he can.
But he’s also an alcoholic, a father, and someone who is fighting cancer. The movie digs deep into the psyche of Lett, and we really get into his head. Seeing his face light up when he talks about his daughter to seeing his blank expression when he admits he’s an alcoholic tells us so much about what we need to know. He is a person who is struggling to keep his life afloat, and he is trying to figure out what his life is truly about.
The film starts in 2009 and follows his journey up until 2016. During these seven years, we see his life spiral out of control as he becomes homeless and pretty much loses everything. That being said, and as you can probably imagine, it’s not always an easy movie to watch. Some moments feel so personal and brutally honest that you feel like a fly on the wall who shouldn’t be there. It’s almost uncomfortable how much access the filmmakers had into his life. That’s not a criticism of the film at all; it’s quite the opposite. The amount of access that director Roy Tighe and crew had into Lette’s life is nothing short of extraordinary, and it allowed them to paint an amazing and tragic picture of a troubled artist.
It may be a bumpy and depressing ride at times, but Never Be Done: The Richard Glen Lett Story is ultimately very uplifting. At the beginning of the film, I can’t say that I cared about Richard and who he was. He felt like the person he portrayed on stage, just another person angry at the world. But after getting to know him and seeing his struggles, that all quickly changed, and by the end, I was rooting for him to succeed. That can be a tricky thing to do, but they pull it off seamlessly.
If I was going, to sum up, the whole movie with one quote, it’s this one told by his daughter, and one I’m sure we can all use; “Everything that hits you in life makes you stronger, or it breaks you. And I choose to continue and become stronger.”
Definitely check out this excellent documentary, which is available now on-demand.
Rating: 4.5 Pastrami Nation’s out of 5.
Kevin Hoskinson is a writer with a deep-seeded love for movies, comic books, television and the paranormal. From humble beginnings working the box office at his local movie theater, he’s worked his way to becoming a humble family man and professional bug exterminator. Growing up, he wanted to become an astronaut, a Ghostbuster, a dinosaur, and a Disney animator before he found his passion for writing as a teen. He studied film at Los Angeles Valley College with an emphasis on screenwriting and film criticism. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two kids. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter @Kevin_Hoskinson, and Instagram @kevinhoskinson.