Bourdain was a trip, but this journey wears you out. The Roadrunner title is apropos: The film begins like a shot from a starting pistol, racing through the life details of a young man in wild times who took an undesirable job as a dishwasher and turned it into an exciting career and celebrity status. Bourdain drew respect through his ability to experience everything, and not just through observational traveling. His point of view was so broad -- he was a creative person and yet a businessman, part of the working class and yet an intellectual elite, someone who lived big by examining the small details, lovable yet difficult, and tightly disciplined yet ruled by his addictive personality. The film skates through the drug use of Bourdain's early years but doesn't luxuriate there, and while it acknowledges that he was a chain-smoker ("Happiness is a fresh pack," he laughs), it doesn't really delve into his passion for drinking, although he's shown with glass in hand quite a bit. The problem is that this road seems to go on and on, the editor apparently unwilling to cut unnecessary material (we really don't need to know about Bourdain's fondness for sharp knives). And the movie is downright passive-aggressive about vilifying Bourdain's last girlfriend and then walking it back.
While it's unlikely that many teens will make it to the end of this two-hour journey, the facts of how Bourdain's life ended are important to consider if young people do decide to watch. And it begs the question: If you cinematically celebrate the glamorous life of a dazzling personality who died via suicide, are you glamorizing that decision? It's a question that Bourdain's buddy David Choe hints at in the epilogue, and director Morgan Neville allows the artist-actor the last word to try to squelch any accusations that his documentary might contribute to suicide fantasies. But when someone -- for example, a depressed person with suicidal ideation -- is looking to confirm their world view, do they accept that bow tied neatly at the top, or are they going to rip into the whole of the present you hand them?