• by Wes Singleton

Lucy and Desi -B-

Rated PG, 105 minutes

The engaging, likable new documentary "Lucy and Desi," from actress and director Amy Poehler of "Saturday Night Live" and "Parks and Recreation" fame once again tells the story of legendary comedian Lucille Ball and husband Desi Arnaz. It offers little we didn't already know, but Ball and Arnaz's rise to fame around their classic TV sitcom "I Love Lucy" is always a fascinating story.


Told through lots of home movies, behind the scenes clips and taped interviews with Ball and Arnaz and those around them, "Lucy and Desi" is essentially a love letter from one comedian to another, and comes as nice companion piece to Aaron Sorkin's Oscar-nominated "Being the Ricardos," which told their story in more dramatic form. Poehler's documentary, filled with generous clips from Ball's TV shows, is a fun watch, though the challenge is finding really anything new that hasn't already been told many times before.


Poehler covers very familiar ground: Ball's early life in Jamestown, New York and her early rise to B-movie in such films as "Stage Door" and "DuBarry Was a Lady," then meeting Arnaz, who escaped from Communist Cuba to build his own life as an entertainer in the U.S. Their volatile relationship was channeled in fame and fortune when they created "I Love Lucy," which was groundbreaking in many ways, and then came to a sad end as the couple split immediately after the series ended.


On hand for interviews and tributes to the couple are Bette Midler, Carol Burnett, and even Charo, along with children of "I Love Lucy" writers, directors and producers. Ball and Arnaz's daughter Lucie Arnaz, who has the lovely charm of both of her parents, helps narrate the story, lending credibility and warmth. Poehler's documentary takes many cues from Arnaz's own 1993 Emmy-winning documentary, "Lucy and Desi: A Home Movie," covering much of the same ground with copious, carefully culled home movie clips.


While nothing new, the clips and interviews are a treat, as is the many behind-the-scenes stories. Hearing Lucie's oft told, still emotional story of her parents final phone call before Desi's death in 1986 may make your eyes just a little watery, even if you've heard it many times. You won't leave "Lucy and Desi" with any big surprises, but it's a sweet tribute from Poehler to honor Lucy and Desi, and a nice treat for Lucy's many fans, who'll get the most out of this.