Remembering Gene Wilder

It’s a 92-minute rollercoaster ride through the frizzy-haired, wild-eyed world of a true comic genius.

Narrated by Wilder himself from beyond the grave (okay, it’s his audiobook), this doc will make you laugh, cry, and reach for Netflix faster than you can say “Puttin’ on the Ritz.”

And for you Fire Island folks, check out the reference in my Review below!

Trailer for “Remembering Gene Wilder”

Watch “Remembering Gene Wilder”

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  • My Rating: 95/100
  • IMDB Rating: 7.9/10
  • Rotten Tomatoes Ratings: 100/100 (Users); 84/100 (Critics)

Release Date: May 18, 2023 (at the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival; Netflix Release Date: June 13, 2024.

Review of “Remembering Gene Wilder”

This 92-minute Netflix nugget is narrated by the frizzy-haired maestro himself, thanks to his audiobook “Kiss Me Like a Stranger: My Search for Love and Art.”

It’s like Gene’s ghostwriting his own eulogy, but funnier.

Born Jerome Silberman, our hero snagged “Wilder” from Thornton and “Gene” from Thomas Wolfe’s book. Talk about literary identity theft.

The doc’s stuffed with more A-listers than a Hollywood rehab. Mel Brooks, Alan Alda, Harry Connick Jr., Carol Kane, Eric McCormack – it’s a veritable who’s who of “people who’ve made milk come out of your nose.”

I wish the doc had said why Connick Jr. (much younger than Wilder) is so prominently featured. Were they best buddies?


We get the scoop on Wilder’s big break in “The Producers” (1967). Wilder had previously only played a small role in Bonnie and Clyde so this was a big move.

Brooks and Wilder’s bromance kicks off when Mel and wife Anne Bancroft invited Gene to Lonelyville, Fire Island to brainstorm The Producers (then called Springtime for Hitler). .

Sidenote: I met Mel Brooks on Fire Island when I was a kid (my best buddy Jeremy Green’s parents were tight with Mel). Mel asked Jeremy and me to make him a grape juice and vodka (we were 10).

But it wasn’t a slam dunk. Brooks shares in the doc that The Producers star Zero Mostel wieled such power at that time that Zero had final veto on Wilder…fortunately, he loved Wilder from the get-go.

Then there’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971).

The doc doesn’t spill too many beans on Wonka except that Gene wasn’t too sweet on its initial flop in ’71.

But like a fine wine or a well-aged Everlasting Gobstopper, we all know Wonka got better with time.

I wished they had dug into Wonka more. It’s prevalent in the trailer (both video and the song Pure Imagination) and yet they barely cover it in the doc.

The doc also covers”Blazing Saddles” (1974) which wasn’t just a laugh riot – it was a last-minute Wilder rodeo. Gene quit a play to join the production when the original lead got the sniffles.

And then there’s “Young Frankenstein” (also 1974).

Turns out, Wilder birthed this monster himself while channel-surfing. He scribbled the idea on a yellow legal pad, probably between infomercials for hair products. Brooks spotted it, and the rest is hilarious history.

These two were tighter than Wonka’s pants after a chocolate binge. They even walked out on 20th Century Fox when the suits balked at shooting “Young Frankenstein” in black and white. Talk about commitment to the bit.

The doc covers a bit about Richard Pryor. One cool learning: for as tight as Pryor and Wilder were in their movies (Silver Streak, Stir Crazy!), Wilder says they weren’t close off-set.

The doc doesn’t sugarcoat the tough stuff.

Wilder’s battle with Alzheimer’s gets a mention. It’s a sobering reminder that even the funniest folks face life’s harshest punchlines.

This laugh-out-loud, tear-jerking, nostalgia-inducing rollercoaster clocks in at 1 hour and 32 minutes of pure Wilder magic.

It was an easy watch.

And I was left with one clear thought: there’s no actor that even resembles Gene Wilder.

A true one-of-a-kind.

Not too shabby for a guy who started out as Jerome Silberman from Milwaukee.

Thanks for reading!

Rob Kelly, Chief Maniac, Daily D