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article imageReview: 'Committed' is about one man's pursuit of showbiz success Special

By Michael Thomas     Apr 26, 2015 in Entertainment
A documentary nearly a decade-and-a-half in the making, 'Committed' tells the story of a man who wants to be a performer. His life takes an interesting turn when he meets Howie Mandel.
Vic Cohen is a symbol for everyone wanting to catch their "big break" in show business. After leaving his job as a reporter in Macon, Georgia, he ended up as a writer on Howie Mandel's short-lived talk show.
Mandel then took a special interest in Cohen because of his sheer tenacity — Cohen sent Mandel pages and pages of submissions without any representation from a big firm. Mandel then began recording all of his time with Cohen for 12 years, starting in 1998.
Though Cohen wants to be a performer, his main drawback is his lack of material. He dabbles in numerous areas, from stand-up to acting, all with Mandel tagging along. Mandel decides one day to let Cohen open for a stand-up gig in front of a few thousand people, and his routine is born; absurdity that almost always ends with him taking off his clothes.
Cohen is a fantastic character to follow around for an entire documentary. He's at times contradictory, like when he tells Mandel his piano teacher made a huge difference in his life. When Mandel and Cohen visit her, she can't immediately remember who he his. Cohen later says she was "just a piano teacher." But Cohen's most admirable attribute is his inability to think negatively about anything he does.
Mandel explain this later on in the film, saying that whenever an actor goes to audition, he or she will always think it went poorly. Cohen comes out of every audition he's ever done thinking he nailed it.
While Cohen is endearing as a character, the film can sometimes be a little too heavy-handed in telling audiences what they're supposed to think in certain scenes, like when a random person tells Cohen to just do his best. Some of the scenes would have been more powerful if Mandel and the directors had let audiences decide for themselves how they feel.
Still, Committed is exceedingly funny, from Mandel's wry observations of Cohen's take on life and Cohen's increasingly strange projects, from dancing in a thong in front of old people while covering himself in food to auditioning to be a male Rockette. Show business isn't for everyone, but for Cohen, it's hard to imagine him anywhere else.
Committed is now showing at the Hot Docs film festival in Toronto. See all of Digital Journal's 2015 festival coverage here.
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