What You Need To Know:
PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE is an uplifting tale of recovery from addiction and the dangers of fame and fortune. It’s quirky, funny and very moving. The lyrical songs of Williams, including the beautiful “Rainbow Connection” from the first Muppets movie, form a wonderful backdrop. The movie doesn’t discuss how exactly Paul stopped being an alcoholic. There’s also some foul language and references to drug use, so caution is warranted.
(C, B, LL, V, S, AA, DD, M) Light redemptive, moral worldview about the benefits of recovery from addiction and the dangers or pitfalls of fame, fortune, and substance abuse; eight obscenities (including one “f” word), one strong profanity, and five MG profanities; light TV violence in shootout during detective show where man is shot, man knocks down police woman on TV show, brief scenes of boxing match, and newsreel footage of people raising guns and fires near truck in some Philippines conflict; light sexual reference or two about getting girls and having and wanting sex appeal while man on TV is surrounded by girls; no nudity; references to alcohol abuse and recovery from alcoholism; smoking and references to past illegal drug use; and, some tension between documentary filmmaker and subject, plus alcoholic in recovery doesn’t like dwelling on some aspects of his past.
PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE is a funny, dramatic and ultimately touching documentary about the recovery struggles of a singer/songwriter and 1970s icon. Paul Williams catapulted to success in 1970 after writing some big hits for The Carpenters and Three Dog Night. He also performed in some movies, most notably THE LOVED ONE and SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT.
The documentary starts with filmmaker Stephen Kessler saying how much he was inspired by Paul Williams when he was a boy. “I always thought he died too young,” Kessler notes as a recording of Paul singing “Rainy Days and Mondays” plays in the background. “When I was a kid, I really wanted to be Paul Williams,” Kessler adds.
Kessler is surprised to learn Paul is still very much alive and still performs. He becomes determined to seek out Paul and ask him to do a documentary on his life. Reluctant at first, Paul agrees, but then becomes recalcitrant about revealing the details of his 1980s alcohol and drug addiction. Now more than 20 years in recovery, Paul doesn’t like to talk about the past and how much of a lost, arrogant jerk he became in the wake of his early fame and substance abuse. However, as he confronts his past and how far he’s come, Paul reveals he’s so much happier being a sober, though less well-known, artist. In fact, he now serves as president of an industry group that protects the rights of songwriters.
PAUL WILLIAMS STILL ALIVE is an uplifting tale of recovery from addiction and the dangers of fame and fortune. It’s quirky, funny, and ultimately very moving. The lyrical songs of Paul Williams, which include the marvelous “Rainbow Connection” from the first Muppets movie, form a wonderful backdrop. Viewers also get a chance to see Williams travel during various concert gigs, including a funny trip to the most dangerous island in The Philippines.
The only complaint MOVIEGUIDE® has is that the movie never details how Paul was able to overcome his addiction. Thus, it contains no specific moral lessons or spiritual aids. It becomes clear, however, that Paul Williams has somehow developed an inner strength and decency. It’s also clear that he and his wife, Mariana, love one another.
MOVIEGUIDE® advises caution for some foul language and drug references.