Updated: Mar 3
Film: More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story
Starring: Pat Morita, Various Stars
Director: Kevin Derek
Streaming: Apple TV
Review: Klep Napier
Rating: 3.5 out of 5X’s
The expression “you should never meet your heroes” plays uneasily through our minds after watching (More Than Miyagi). On one side you have the iconic workings of a charismatic, comedic genius who filled hearts with laughs, and inspired hope throughout decades, but behind the curtain appeared to have lived a heart broken man who was loved by not only fans but also many of his peers.
Pat Morita’s life story comes to life in this 1 hour and 13 minute Documentary through the help of Executive Producer and Morita’s 3rd ex wife Evelyn Guerrero.
The Documentary follows the long lived career of Pat Morita, from stand up comedian to the Happy Days of Arnold’s diner. With an in-depth look at the before, during and after success from Morita’s most memorable film contribution The Karate Kid.
Without knowing anything about Mr. Morita except the Karate Kid, this thing already seems interesting. It almost feels like he wasn’t with us long enough to have known anything outside of the huge success of the one franchise. So that alone makes the dive in worth it.
Where it works is Guerrero peels back the layers of her ex husband, allowing the fans to not only get a peek at why we love him but also why we should love him even more. Pat’s sacrifice, pain, struggles and success are all laid out through stories from his long time industry peers like James Hong, Henry Winkler, Larry Miller, Marion Ross and of course Ralph Macchio and William Zabaka. This makes for one emotional ride with yet an enormous emotional void because we are without Morita’s presence.
This brings us to what doesn’t work. Biographical story’s can sometimes be bad, especially when the the subject is alive and well enough to shift the narrative, hold back the truth and fluff their own stories. Well where that isn’t necessarily the case with More Than Miyagi, we can’t help but feel as though the things we learn are’t fair game. Specifically around the fact the film had not received the blessing from Morita’s children. There wasn’t even a single appearance from family or previous wives. If the celebration of Pat’s legacy was at stake here, then wouldn’t the best iteration of that be to reunited his loved ones to share their words. At some points it feels like Guerrero has gone rogue during this mission leaving much to the viewers own interpretation.
Overall More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story will please you, inspire you and very much shock you with smiles and new discoveries about the man we mostly remember as Mr. Miyagi. Generations shall never forget what a true talent Mr. Pat Morita was, and thanks to this documentary generations after ours will be able to get to know him ALMOST as well as with did.
More Than Miyagi: The Pat Morita Story is available February 5th, 2021 on Appletv!