Being Evel Review
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In the ‘70s, every boy in the country wanted to own his own Evel Knievel action figure—complete with Stunt Cycle and CB Van. But while young boys once idolized the legendary daredevil, his exploits weren’t exactly honorable and heroic. But that’s what makes the documentary Being Evel so entertaining.

Being Evel goes beyond the celebrated stunts and the red, white, and blue jumpsuit to tell the real story of the motorcycle-jumping superstar. The story starts in Butte, Montana—a rough little mining town where young Bobby Knievel grew from aspiring juvenile delinquent to cunning con man. But it wasn’t until he moved to Washington to sell motorcycles that he began making a name for himself as a stuntman. Soon, he took his show to Hollywood, where his bravery and bravado—as well as his shocking crashes—made him a legend.

Whether you know little more than the legend of Evel Knievel or you still remember gathering around the TV to watch his latest stunt, Being Evel is a fascinating—and often surprising—look at the man on the motorcycle. The film features footage of all of his most memorable jumps—from his disastrous Caesar’s Palace jump in 1967 to his widely publicized Snake River Canyon jump in 1974 to his last major jump at King’s Island in 1975. It shows clips from some of his interviews and press tours, too. But it also shows the parts of him that people didn’t see on TV, telling stories about his youth, his rise to fame, and the fears that he hid from the cameras.

Being Evel gathers the people who knew him best: his friends and colleagues, his family, and even former members of the Butte, Montana, police department. Knievel’s old friends are full of stories—stories so outrageous that they’re sure to surprise the laughter right out of you. And while producer and modern-day daredevil Johnny Knoxville seems out of place among the experts and old friends, he helps to fill in the cracks and bridge the gaps, introducing some of the wild and crazy stories while pointing out Knievel’s influence on everything from marketing and promotion to today’s action sports.

But, of course, Knievel’s story isn’t all just flashy jumpsuits and motorcycle jumps. It tells about a small-time crook who figured out how to lie, cheat, and steal his way to fame—and how that fame often brought out the worst in him, whether that meant cheating on his wife, verbally abusing the press, or viciously assaulting his former promoter. It definitely has its dark moments, but its sometimes brutal honesty only adds to the film’s appeal.

Daredevil, American icon, and shameless self-promoter—Evel Knievel was a fascinating man with an incredible story. And with its thrilling footage and behind-the-scenes accounts, Being Evel is an entertaining and eye-opening documentary.

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