Offensively pornographic, objectionably misogynist, or "the Breughel of the twentieth century"?, David Lynch presents a tour de force of film portraiture, an alternately hilarious and disturbing look at American underground comic artist Robert Crumb and his bizarre family background.
Zap comics mainstay, creator of the saucy Fritz the Cat strip, the surreal "Keep on Trucking" cartoons and hallucinogen-inspired album covers for musicians like Janis Joplin, the notoriously reclusive Crumb was catapaulted to world fame in the 1960s. A confirmed neurotic who makes Woody Allen seem positively well-adjusted, Crumb's drawings play out, through transgressive, misanthropic and ruthlessly truthful fantasies, his disgust with American culture. Inevitably the artist's work would return time and again to notions of sex, desire, fear and hostility.
Director Terry Zwigoff, friend and fellow player in Crumb's jug revival band, is primarily interested in his hero's context (a positively psychotic all-American nuclear family) and has fashioned a fascinating mess that perfectly mirrors it. Sessions with his brothers, Charles (who inspired Crumb to draw and has been out of-touch with reality for twenty years). Max (the surrealist painter who sits on a bed of nails for three hours a day) and his mother (a hermit who never leaves the family home), are simultaneously intimate, humorous and totally engrossing.
Creepy but compelling, Crumb is not to be missed by rabid aficionados as well as those yet to be drawn into the artist's skewed world through his idiosyncratic illustrations.