Published Apr 27, 2014By first landing the iconic role of Sulu on Star Trek and then managing to stay relevant in a variety of important ways throughout the intervening years, George Takei has defied the odds with a positive attitude and that trademark mellifluous voice. A funny and frothy trip through his life and career, Jennifer M. Kroot's To Be Takei is as much a study in perseverance as it is a heartwarming love story about Takei's nearly three-decade relationship with his partner Brad.
Early sequences delve into Takei's formative experience as a child when he was imprisoned with his family and other Japanese-Americans in internment camps after the events of Pearl Harbor as part of an ugly chapter of American history. After then suffering the indignity of appearing in a couple of Jerry Lewis movies that furthered Asian stereotypes, he was eventually cast to helm the Enterprise and then parlayed the notoriety into what has seemed like a series of careers. The film warmly chronicles this strange journey through show business, politics and the crusade for gay rights.
Through interviews with the cast of Star Trek and an appearance on The Howard Stern Show (on which he serves as occasional announcer), we learn that Takei has earned a solid reputation for his work ethic and that William Shatner is a bit of an ass. It's in the private moments, though, between Takei and Brad as they scatter the ashes of Brad's mother into a canyon or gently rib each other like any long-term couple, that the film really shines.
Because Takei is currently working on bringing a musical called Allegiance, about his time in the internment camp, to Broadway, there are passages that may feel a little promotional, but it steers clear of being a vanity project for the most part. (Rainbow Shooting Star Pictures)