“Fifteen years of total insanity” is how Robert Downey Sr. describes his career in Robert Downey Jr.’s new Netflix documentary, Sr. The recently released trailer gives viewers a glimpse of the life of the acclaimed actor’s father, diving deep into his highly creative, indulge-worthy, and nonchalant personality. If you weren’t previously aware of the elder Downey’s work, Sr unpacks a life well lived.
Spearheading the New Wave of Western Cinema in the ’60s and ’70s, Downey Sr., an anti-establishment filmmaker, started his journey with low-budget 16mm films, with his first movie, Ball Buff (1961) managing to gather a lot of underground attention. Of course, Robert Downey Jr. has since become a household name, courtesy of a bumpy but successful streak that culminated in his role as Tony Stark akaIron Man, but the comparatively lesser known Downey Sr. had varied accomplishments in his own time. He took up acting gigs in ’80s films like in Johnny Be Good and featured his two children in the absurdist comedy film Pound, which was Robert Downey Jr.’s debut as a child actor.
Netflix is all set to release this personal yet relatable piece on the complicated father-son dynamic of two people in showbiz on December 2. The tribute will feature notable film personalities like Alan Arkin, Norman Lear, and Paul Thomas Anderson telling us the story of Downey Sr.’s great relics.
“On the first day of filming, Sr. said ‘trust anything, and anything can happen’ and that ended up being the guiding light for the project,” director Chris Smith said. “What started as a straightforward documentary quickly devolved into anything but. Knowing what I know now, it’s really the only way you could attempt to make something on the two Downeys. Larger than life, but open and human as ever, it was such a pleasure and life-affirming experience to try to capture some glimpses of the highs, lows, and everything in between.”
The documentary also draws attention to Sr.’s much-appreciated film, Putney Swope, and applauds his fierce determination to portray scandalous subjects like corruption in the corporate system or racism in Hollywood films in his work. A pro alt-culture filmmaker and a dedicated father, a superstar and a modest son, the Sr. documentary ventures all avenues of both Robert Downey Sr. and Jr.
The documentary was shot over the course of three years and was Robert Downey Jr.’s dream project. Now, a year after Sr.’s passing, it was about time that this hidden gem of a story was known to people. It is now for us to decide on December 2, 2022, if Sr. is an emotional roller-coaster ride or many mini-life lessons stitched into a big one.