5.8/10
7,076
31 user 16 critic

Punchline (1988)

Steven Gold is a stand-up comedian who is flat broke and has recently dropped out of medical school. He and several others work regularly at the Gas Station, a New York comedy club. The ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Romeo
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Arnold
Pam Matteson ...
Utica Blake
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Singing Nun (as George Michael McGrath)
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Barry Neikrug ...
Krug
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Rico (as Angel Salazar)
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Percy
Joycee Katz ...
Joycee
Mac Robbins ...
Billy Lane
Max Alexander ...
Mister Ball
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Storyline

Steven Gold is a stand-up comedian who is flat broke and has recently dropped out of medical school. He and several others work regularly at the Gas Station, a New York comedy club. The wages are lousy and everybody hopes for the big break. Lilah Krytsick is housewife with an ambition to be a stand-up comedian, however she doesnt seem to have the talent. Steven takes her under his wings and teaches her the art of comedy and humour. But when a TV station arranges a comedy evening at the club, Steve sees his opportunity for fame and stardom. Their friendship seems quickly forgotten and now it's every man and woman for him- or herself! Written by Mattias Pettersson <seaman@sbbs.se>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Dying is easy. Comedy is hard. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

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Release Date:

7 October 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Punch Line  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$21,032,267
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The name of the comedy night-club in Manhattan, New York was "The Gas Station". See more »

Goofs

When Steven and Lilah are riding the #7 subway, the Manhattan terminus of the line is shown as Lexington Ave. The actual terminus should be 42nd St./ Times Square. See more »

Quotes

Steven: We are all Gods animated cartoons.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Geraldo Rivera Show: Hate Mongers (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Saber Dance
(uncredited)
(from ballet "Gayaneh")
Music by Aram Khachaturyan
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
I wanted to like this
15 January 2008 | by See all my reviews

It's hard to envision a time in Tom Hanks' career where he had roles in 5 critically panned, as well as commercially dismal films. While I find Joe Versus the Volcano to be a genuinely remarkable and unique film, and Turner and Hooch to be a K-9 ripoff that is a lot more fun than any James Belushi vehicle, Punchline falls flat in too many ways to even get an A for effort.

Hanks is woefully miscast as a guy who's supposed to come off as a selfish jerk (it doesn't help that I can't help but imagine Tom asking viewers to donate to a WWII veterans memorial). When he borders on the icy cold determination of someone who believes they are bound for greatness but are relegated to mentor and also-ran, the movie and Hanks hint at greatness. But ultimately the role should have gone to someone more adept at playing selfish jerks: I imagine a young Kevin Spacey or a world-wearied Richard Belzer.

The real problem is the utter flatness of Sally Field's crowd-winning "jokes." Was I the only one groaning in horror at her Z-rate, HBO late-night schtick? The idea that she's a stunning new talent in the cutthroat world of 80s stand-up is unthinkable (I can't remember what documentary it was, but I saw an excellent collection of comedians talking about the desperate need to be the "next Eddie Murphy" and later the "next Roseanne/Seinfeld"). That's where the movie fails: it suggests that Hanks is just too unrelentingly cruel and embittered to attain stardom, while Fields good-natured "hilarious" insights into real-world pressures make her a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Neither fully embody their roles convincingly, and the writer just doesn't know good comedy.

Jay Mohr described the creative nadir in comedy: when the typical comedian was bland guys sporting a neon blazer, standing in front of brick walls blurting out tired clichés like "you ladies know what I'm talking about." It's obvious that David Seltzer (writer of the gut-busting Omen series and The Other Side of the Mountain) thinks the world of these garden variety hacks, and without convincing leads, remarkably funny stand-up routines, or the proper balance of convincing drama and humor, the movie just falls flat in every way. I'm giving it a four based on the gleam of promise in Hanks' otherwise unconvincing turn and the faint hope that he could actually portray a genuinely unlikable character in the future (though I doubt it considering a similar misstep with Bonfire of the Vanities and his lovable hit-man in Road to Perdition).


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