First, I would submit this as exhibit E proving that Dustin Hoffman is one of the greatest living actors. Second, I would submit this as exhibit HH proving that a great actor can only elevate a film so much.
On the surface, just another warts-and-all biopic, but its made with such creative flair and acted with such passion that it becomes irresistable. Bruce's legacy speaks for itself of course, and yet the movie still manages to seem invaluable. Surtees' beautiful black and white cinematography and the films showbiz trappings echoes 8½, but whereas that film was about survival, love, life and art, Lenny is a film of decay, misery, death and art. Guess which one I prefer.
Bob Fosse's Lenny Bruce biopic feels like the last film of the 60s: the editing and semi-documentary touches all evoke that era, and as a piece of filmmaking, it's arguably more visceral and memorable than Fosse's CABARET. The script is a bit less successful, in that we view Lenny mostly through other people's eyes--an interesting choice that nevertheless distances us from him. But Dustin Hoffman throws himself fully into the role, and Valerie Perrine is fantastic as his self-destructive wife.
This movie is all about Dustin Hoffman's performance as Lenny Bruce. The movie is really slow at times and takes too much time indulging itself in seemingly needless stuff. Also the detoriation of Bruce goes so fast that we barely get any character development whatsoever. I know it's based on real-life, but still I believe it could have been done better. If you're a fan of Hoffmann or Lenny Bruce, it's worth a watch, but it's not really really that great a movie compared to it's contemporaries.
At times moving, at others hilarious and ultimately very tragic, Lenny is, to put it simply, a beautiful film. This is now one of my favorite Dustin Hoffman performances and the black and white visual is simple stunning. This movie is criminally underseen.
Hoffman's bravura portrayal of the tortured, self-destructive, brilliantly inventive comic Lenny Bruce is enough of a reason to see this. The film uses material from Bruce's trials which are "performed" by Hoffman as part of his nightclub act.
By today's standards it'd be a pretty average biopic. It's funny how formulaic all of these "geniuses" are in the way that they lived their lives. Dustin Hoffman was great, and really salvaged an otherwise boring movie. Oh, and don't get me wrong, I'm not selling Lenny's influence short by any means.
Hoffman totally encompasses main man Lenny Bruce, both his on-stage presence and his off-stage battles. It's amazingly inspiring to see this man defend his rights to say "tits", "ass", and "cocksucker" until it took away absolutely everything away from him. If you don't think stand-up comedy is one of the purest forms of art, then you need to see this film.