A straightforward profile of a comedian and magician with a terminal sickness takes a turn for the bizarre in “The Amazing Johnathan Documentary,” an upcoming film which debuted at Sundance Film Festival in January and makes its way to theaters and Hulu in August.
The trailer begins by explaining what made the Amazing Johnathan (real name John Szeles) different than most performers of his ilk, including his penchant for magic tricks, dark comedy, gory special effects, and even some onstage drug use which may or may not have been a gimmick.
“The Amazing Johnathan sort of deconstructed magic,” “Weird Al” Yankovic explains at one point.
“He was like a rebel magician,” adds fellow Stern Show veteran Eric Andre. “I loved him.”
After learning the Amazing Johnathan was suffering from an apparently terminal heart condition, first-time director Ben Berman sought to profile the entertainer for a documentary. He assumed he'd be shooting Johnathan during the final years of his life but the closer he got to his subject the more difficult it became to separate truth from illusion. Berman soon found himself wondering if Johnathan was even dying at all while also debating whether or not to join him in using hard drugs.
“The Amazing Johnathan Documentary” lands on Hulu and in select theaters on Aug. 16.