Certifiably Jonathan

Certifiably Jonathan

2.0 1
Director: Jim Pasternak

Cast: Jim Pasternak, Jonathan Winters, Robin Williams, Jeffrey Tambor

Comic legend Jonathan Winters stars in this mockumentary that begins with Winters, also a talented painter, being given his first art show. However, while deciding which pieces to hang for the show, his favorite creation is stolen, sending the funnyman into a depressive tailspin that results in him losing his sense of humor altogether. With the help of some celebrity


Comic legend Jonathan Winters stars in this mockumentary that begins with Winters, also a talented painter, being given his first art show. However, while deciding which pieces to hang for the show, his favorite creation is stolen, sending the funnyman into a depressive tailspin that results in him losing his sense of humor altogether. With the help of some celebrity friends (Robin Williams and Sarah Silverman among them) he attempts to get everything back in order before the beginning of his grand debut.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Jonathan Winters is arguably America's greatest underutilized natural resource of comedy. Winters began doing standup in the mid-'50s, and his wild flights of free association, peerless improvisational skills, and seemingly endless array of voices and sound effects marked him as someone following a very different path than his peers in humor. Winters was popular and wildly influential but never quite rose to the highest levels of stardom, largely because he seemed too wild a card to play in many formats. While Winters has appeared in a number of movies and television shows, the man is at his best when he's simply allowed to follow his muse wherever it chooses to wander from moment to moment, which is entertaining for audiences but a bit of a problem if you're trying to shoehorn him into a narrative. Writer and director Jim Pasternak has made a noble effort to create a new vehicle for Winters by making a film that follows his lead rather than forcing him into a character or narrative construct. It's a great idea, and even though it's a shame that Certifiably Jonathan doesn't work better, at its best it gives him a better platform for his talents than he's had in years. In addition to his work as an actor and comedian, Jonathan Winters is also an accomplished visual artist and has been exhibiting his paintings for some time. In its first act, Certifiably Jonathan poses as a documentary in which Pasternak follows Winters as he tries to promote his art career. Winters states that his great dream is to be taken seriously as a painter and to have his work displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, so that it will have an audience long after he's gone. Winters discusses his work with enough sincerity and intelligence that it takes about 20 minutes before it becomes clear there's a gag in play. Pasternak asks several noted gallery owners what it would take to kick-start Winters' career as a fine artist, and most suggest the right review from the right critic might do the trick. Noted art writer Nicholas DeBoor (Dominic Keating) is impressed enough with Winters' paintings that he steps up to help him get a show at MoMA, but there's a catch -- curator Stacy Kaufman (Nikita Ager) wants three new pieces for the exhibit, and after one of his paintings is stolen, Winters suddenly loses his sense of humor, and with it, his ability to create. As Jonathan struggles to reconnect with his muse, a number of his friends offer their help, and it just so happens that a number of them are famous actors and comics, including Robin Williams, Rob Reiner, Sarah Silverman, Howie Mandel, David Arquette, and Nora Dunn. Certifiably Jonathan works best when it feels most like a documentary, following Jonathan Winters as he speaks off the cuff about his life and his art. Winters practically has to try not to be funny, but his comments here are often quite revealing, and as witty as he may be, he ends up sharing a great deal about his attitude toward his artwork, his career in show business, his struggles with mental illness (he was hospitalized after a nervous breakdown in the 1950s, and has been diagnosed as manic depressive), and his many years of marriage. Hearing Winters speak frankly about his life is entertaining and often moving, and ultimately it's a lot more interesting than when Pasternak introduces the narrative device of the stolen painting and Jonathan's subsequent loss of his humor. While everyone here is game, some of these comics work much better with Winters than others, and Jimmy Kimmel and David Arquette in particular seem at a loss to collaborate with Winters, as much as they clearly admire him, while Robin Williams quickly reverting to his usual standup schtick (one clearly inspired by Winters) as he sorts through some of Jonathan's paintings. (Sarah Silverman, meanwhile, could be said to be playing to her strengths when she tries to cheer Jonathan up by offering to show him one of her boobs.) Winters is too potent a talent to not generate some laughs even from lesser set pieces, but it's significant that the funniest moments in this movie are clips of Winters' television appearances of the early '60s, and the most powerful are the ones where Winters simply talks about himself and the world around him, clearly unconcerned with the demands of a story. When Jim Pasternak lets Jonathan Winters have the screen to himself, Certifiably Jonathan is a superb reminder of why he's still a major influence on contemporary comedians and a fascinating figure. When Winters visits a Target store with Howie Mandel or attends a séance with the Arquette family, Pasternak's flawed pacing and the technical shortcomings of this low-budget project become all the more evident, making it clear that it's Winters who makes this project memorable. Thankfully, Jonathan gets enough screen time here to make the film worthwhile, though Certifiably Jonathan confirms that while a digitally shot improvised project could be just the right vehicle for Jonathan Winters, this one fails to give him the framework to bring out the best in his comedy. But hearing the great man crack wise and philosophize is still a treat, making this worth a look for anyone who has ever laughed when Jonathan Winters walked onscreen.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Momo Bay

Special Features

Deleted Scenes; Theatrical Trailer

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jonathan Winters Participant
Robin Williams Participant
Jeffrey Tambor Participant
Sarah Silverman Participant
Patricia Arquette Participant
David Arquette Participant
Rosanna Arquette Participant
Gary Owens Participant
Ryan Stiles Participant
Rob Reiner Participant
Robert Klein Participant
Howie Mandel Participant
Jimmy Kimmel Participant
Kevin Dunn Participant
Nora Dunn Participant
Tim Conway Participant
Nikita Ager Participant
Dominic Keating Participant
Jim Pasternak Participant

Technical Credits
Jim Pasternak Director,Screenwriter
Matthew Fortnow Co-producer,Executive Producer
Buddy Judge Score Composer
Richard Marshall Cinematographer,Producer
Robert Pergament Editor

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Certifiably Jonathan
1. Chapter 1 [4:33]
2. Chapter 2 [2:57]
3. Chapter 3 [4:49]
4. Chapter 4 [3:55]
5. Chapter 5 [3:40]
6. Chapter 6 [3:54]
7. Chapter 7 [4:04]
8. Chapter 8 [4:01]
9. Chapter 9 [3:56]
10. Chapter 10 [4:51]
11. Chapter 11 [3:05]
12. Chapter 12 [3:55]
13. Chapter 13 [3:46]
14. Chapter 14 [4:51]
15. Chapter 15 [3:37]
16. Chapter 16 [3:49]
17. Chapter 17 [4:00]
18. Chapter 18 [3:29]
19. Chapter 19 [3:30]
20. Chapter 20 [4:20]


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Certifiably Jonathan 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
this dvd lacks the punch and fortitude jonathan winters has delivered in the past.  It is disappointing to say the least especially from a great comedian I have admired from the beginning