There are times when you watch a movie, and you have a visceral reaction. With horror movies it might be fear, or with comedy it would be raucous laughter, but never in my career have I gotten angry watching a documentary. To be clear, it wasn’t anger at the quality in any way, this is a fantastic movie. I was angry because I wasn’t involved with it in any way, so I’ll have to settle for reviewing it.

HENDRIE is a documentary about the legendary talk radio host Phil Hendrie and hosts a dais of some of today’s most popular and influential comedians to speak about the impact Phil’s career has had on the radio industry and how he changed the game with his on-air comedic voices and bits.

Phil Hendrie is what every podcaster and TikTok influencer wishes they could be in terms of engagement with their audience and entertainment in its purest form.

Directed by Patrick Reynolds, this documentary starts early in Phil’s career, not veering off into too much of his childhood or personal life throughout, but instead keeping the focus on the ups and downs of the talk radio industry and how his behavior and singular ability to create satire from almost any subject on the fly was both a blessing and a bane to his success. One thing remained true throughout, and that is Phil was never really deterred from doing what he felt was funny, even when it wasn’t in the best interest of his bank account or job longevity.

There is so much for anyone pursuing a career in a creative field to relate to in this movie. Phil talks about getting fired from a radio station, and how that impacted his self-esteem, giving him a feeling of “imposter syndrome”, which almost anyone can relate to. He also touches upon how sometimes getting what you want in your career, and hitting the pinnacle of your profession can leave you with an empty feeling. The big house and pool are great and all, but if it doesn’t feel right, maybe it isn’t.

The movie is shot beautifully, vacillating between interviews with comedians like Bill Hader and Judd Apatow to putting Phil squarely where he belongs, behind a mic. It uses simple animated transitions to cut between scenes and segments, and the whole thing flows together seamlessly. The use of varying locations and some drone footage open up the movie, giving it more scale than just having a bunch of talking heads in a room.

Even though the doc doesn’t get too much into Phil’s personal life, you are left with the impression that what he does is personal to him, and you come away with an understanding of what his career has meant to him.

The movie is laugh-out-loud funny at times as they replay some of Phil’s bits, and you get to experience some of the satire that made him the master of the craft.

It’s unfortunate that, with the decline of terrestrial radio, people in certain regions will miss out on emerging talents like Phil. The discovery mechanism of the Internet doesn’t really work the same way as building a following in a city or region like folks used to on the radio and local television. Phil is one of the few personalities that transcends the medium, and that people will continue to discover long after he’s gone.

Hendrie Summary:
Countries: United StatesLanguages: English
  1. As a longtime listener,I came into this film already knowing about the subject. Seeing a documentary about Phil is a long time coming. This is probably 10 years overdue.
    This also feels like a thumbnail of Phil and his talent and not the deep dive a documentary should be. His battle with TRN and Mark Masters and the mysterious John or Jason Fallows.
    All in all though,it is great to watch a do on someone I’ve been listening to for close to 20 years.

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