The documentary “To Be Takei” is a buoyant, engaging look at the life of actor and activist George Takei, best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu in the original “Star Trek” TV series as well as in six “Star Trek” feature films.
In recent years, Takei, 77, has enjoyed a career and visibility resurgence fueled largely by his 2005 coming out. Details of Takei’s longtime relationship with Brad Altman, whom he married in 2008, along with a candid portrayal of the couple’s wry, complementary dynamic, enjoyably inform much of the film’s narrative.
The actor’s cultural heritage also importantly factors in. Takei, the Los Angeles-born son of Japanese American parents, spent several childhood years imprisoned with his family in World War II internment camps — one in Arkansas, the other in California. As seen here, the experience clearly inspired Takei’s advocacy for human rights and the improvement of Japanese-American relations.
His appearance in the loosely autobiographical, internment-era musical “Allegiance,” which premiered in 2012 at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, is also warmly captured.
In all, writer-director Jennifer M. Kroot effectively jams in quite a lot about the super-busy Takei, he of the resonant voice and distinctive chuckle. Also covered are Takei’s TV and movie roles, appearances at sci-fi conventions, job as official announcer of “The Howard Stern Show,” his social media ascendance and an ongoing feud with “Star Trek” co-star William Shatner.
Chats with “Trek” cast members and other Takei friends and supporters, plus a wealth of family and archival photos and footage, complete this lively tribute.
“To Be Takei.”
MPAA rating: None.
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes.
Playing: At Sundance Sunset, West Hollywood and Laemmle’s Playhouse 7, Pasadena. Also on VOD.