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not surprisingly misunderstood
leah-macwilliam-115 August 2006
A reviewer once complained that "Punchline" commits an unforgivable sin by being an unfunny movie about stand up comics. For anyone who agrees, try looking "irony" up in the dictionary - it's an element that's occasionally used outside of the literary world.

The film's deliberately awkward and painful scenes illustrate the point, "Lady, nothing is a joke to me. That's why I'm in comedy. And that's why you're not."

The same reviewer made the hilarious claim that comics never tell jokes out of compulsion or denial, but simply because "they love making other people laugh." newsflash: creative and hysterical people are often highly dysfunctional! :D thank you goodnight!
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so very underrated
ajdagreat27 August 2001
I cannot say enough good things about this movie. It's one of the most original movies I've seen in a long time.

How often is it that we have this movie plot: boy meets involved girl, girl realizes boy is her true love, girl dumps her lover to marry boy, boy and girl live happily ever after? To say that this is not the case in this movie is a gross understatement.

The stand-up acts are not amazing, but that's not really what the movie's about. It's better if you look at it as a drama. I love how everyone thinks Tom Hanks, a very funny guy in this movie, is a one-dimensional person who is ALL about humor. That's the real point of the movie - he's not. I especially love the line (and I know I'll screw this up somehow):

Field: You're so funny because everything is a joke to you. Hanks: I'm so funny because nothing is a joke to me.

I've seen my share of comedy-dramas, but most I only liked for the comedy aspect. In this one I could just ignore all the stand-up and I'd still love this movie (although the opening scene is very well-done and funny).

I would highly recommend it, it comes on the cable movie channels a lot.
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The stress of stand up
bkoganbing29 September 2019
The late Edmund Gwenn on his deathbed said that dying was easy, comedy was hard. I think most entertainers would agree with that. One thing for sure is that if the laughs don't come and in the right places you are doing something wrong.

Tom Hanks and Sally Field are a couple of hopefuls looking to break and they're regulars at the club where Mark Rydell is the emcee. Field is a wife and mother with two girls and married to John Goodman. She's also been told she's funny and wants to see if she can make a living at it.

Hanks is the son of a top flight doctor who has forced his son into going to medical school where he flunks out. There are some real issues here with Hanks desperate to succeed and get to the top of his own field as his father has done.

Hanks best moment is when he does get to perform before some TV executives he breaks down completely on stage. It was a beautiful piece of acting.

Punchline more than most films I've seen, shows that these funny people go through a lot of heartache to make it in that business. Hanks and Field are really good pair of leads and the rest of the cast, most of them playing the denizens of the comedy world lend wonderful support.

If you think you might want to be a comedian, see this movie.
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A Forgotten Gem in the Career of Tom Hanks...
Isaac58551 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
One of the best and also most overlooked films of Tom Hanks'career was the 1988 comedy PUNCHLINE, in which Hanks plays Steven Gold, a struggling stand up comedian who uses his comedy to work out his own inner demons, a lot of which stem from his childhood and his twisted and unresolved relationship with his father. Hanks walks the fine line of comedy and tragedy so effectively in this movie. One scene where he is excited to perform because a big agent is in the audience and is shattered when he learns it's really his father out there and he literally has a breakdown onstage is absolutely heartbreaking. He is also laugh out loud funny when he performs a stand up routine for a group of patients at a Brooklyn hospital and then two minutes later is looking at the chart of a terminally ill child. Steven Gold is a character so desperate to be loved that he thinks himself into believing that he is in love with a married woman (Sally Field) who also wants to do stand-up. Another great scene is when he pours his heart out to her and when she rejects him, he storms out in the rain and starts out doing Gene Kelly, but the dance in the rain turns into a brief descent into madness. Standup comics, for the most part, are not happy people, and Hanks conveys this so beautifully in this film. His final set at the film's climax reeks of his brilliance and he gets strong support from Field and John Goodman as Field's husband. If you somehow missed this early sleeper in Hanks' career, check it out.. definitely worth renting and repeated viewings.
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A great drama about comedy
Jaymay12 August 2001
This is a wonderful movie. Every time I see it on cable I'm reminded how well-crafted it is. The writing is solid, the characters are real, and the desperate world of the stand up comic, whose life is nothing without the laughter, is captured very well.

Anyone who's worked professionally in comedy knows that comics are, as a rule, not happy people. Look at Jim Carrey or Woody Allen when they aren't in front of a camera and you'll see real pain in their eyes, just below the surface. Tom Hanks, as Steven Gold, captures that kind of character perfectly.

This was the performance that marked the turning point for Tom Hanks. There would be no oscars for him if it weren't for Punchline, because this was the movie that proved he could flip between comedy and heartfelt drama on a dime.

Sally Field does very well, and John Goodman gives one of his best performances ever.
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Making People Laugh Will Cost You Dearly!!!!
dataconflossmoor21 September 2003
So much for my family, my kids, my sanity, and my discretionary money, what little of it I have...I want to tell jokes!!!...This bittersweet relationship between Tom Hanks and Sally Field has husband, John Goodman, totally perplexed...The nightclubs, the fast food, the partial housewife thing, the spending money on jokes..None of this makes any sense for a struggling married couple..Yet somehow, Sally Field must find herself..."Be supportive of my quirkiness!!"This was a precarious instinct that Sally Field felt compelled to necessitate!! The film "Punchline" spends most of the time making personality confusion the culprit to domestic shaky grounds, but in the end, it shows how Sally Field can be a good wife, a good mother and yet express a part of herself for herself by being a stand-up comic...The challenge stand-up comedy represents by being as painful as Russian roulette with five bullets, plays itself out as a frustrating dilemma that confuses both Tom Hanks and Sally Field!!!!...What was finally attainable in both their lives was recognition at a humanistic level...What is seemingly unacceptable to the run of the mill rational person, as opposed to a stand-up comic, is that there is no comprehension of the fact that a stand-up comic views the ability to make people laugh as one of the most coveted qualities in the world!! To be funny is more rewarding than wealth, power, and/or a wonderful physical appearance!!! Stand-Up Comedy is not necessarily a lucrative talent, and you do not have to constantly make people laugh, but when Sally Field won the contest that night, it meant she had the ability to be a stand-up comic,,this was important to her!!!! The desire Sally Field had to tell jokes at various New York nightclubs, transcended selfishness, and merely pointed out that having a family and a husband does not mean your life stops totally!!..Bottom line, if Sally Field were on trial for negligence and self centered preoccupation, she would have been acquitted!! Ultimately what gave her stand-up comic hobby a sense of gratification was the emerging approval and encouragement of her family!! The "Singin in the Rain" scene that Tom Hanks performed was FABULOUS!!! as this film just oozes with talent...This movie is identical to the plot of this movie...BEING DIFFERENT IS BETTER...JUST ASK SOMEONE WHO OWNS A ROLLS ROYCE!!!!
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A "Must See Performance" by Hanks
Philaura20 November 1998
Tom Hanks performs the "Singing in the Rain" umbrella/street dance number like you'd never imagine it could be. I loved him in this movie. Probably more than the vast majority of his others. His portrayal of an emotionally tormented and lost young man blessed with a tremendous and natural talent for comedy - dark as it may be - broke my heart. I wasn't crazy about Sally Fields as his leading lady - the match up just didn't work for me. But as individuals they were both excellent.

I would recommend it highly. It's not really a comedy as the title might suggest. It is, as I said dark, but with some very warm feelings about giving. I gave it an 8
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Quite Memorable, But Gut-Wrenching At Times
ccthemovieman-113 February 2006
Memorable.....but bad memories outweigh good, at least for me, with this movie.

That's my recollection of this film which, frankly, I haven't seen in over a decade. However, this movie left some indelible impressions in my sensitive memory, and perhaps I'll re-visit it again one day.

Tom Hanks was mesmerizing as the haunted comedian, a man with a lot of talent to make people laugh but a guy tormented by the lack of support from his father. There is a scene or two in here with this dad that is so uncomfortable to watch that it has prevented me from seeing this another time.

Too bad, because I do remember some wonderful, funny scenes such as Hanks in the hospital entertaining the patients. Sally Field also gives a touching performance as a housewife trying to break into the business, and John Goodman is likable as her husband.

An interesting film with very emotional scenes you won't forget. It's almost too much for me, for some reason.
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A True Actors Drama
nasher-21 November 2005
My father is a stand-up comic, and all I can say is that this film above most others shows comedians for what they truly are. Comedy is truly based out of pain, and the two main characters truly have a great deal of pain in their lives. All the actors give their performances more than two dimensions, and are truthful in what they are dong at all times. If your looking for a laugh out loud comedy, than you'll be greatly disappointed, this film is really about he drama of the life of people who are trying to make it in the entertainment business. As a closing statement, i have heard many comics who were around at the time of this picture say that Tom Hanks was one of the greatest comics that they had seen, and if he had not caught the acting bug first, that he would have been a great comic.
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I wanted to like this
markmywords8515 January 2008
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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Too few laughs
gcd7013 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
For a film about getting laughs, this Sally Field, Tom Hanks vehicle gets too few. The film is essentially a drama about stand up comedy, it must be said. Family drama, social drama and relationship drama are all covered, yet in its attempt to roll you in the aisles, "Punchline" lacks exactly that….the killer instinct.

With its failure to focus on a single issue, "Punchline" loses power. Coupled with Tom Hanks terribly unfunny routines, and you have a floundering feature. The two actors do reasonably well I must admit, putting two solid performances together. Sally Field's housewife come comedienne even manages to grab a laugh. None of these positives can manage to rescue "Punchline" from the mediocre though.

John Goodman is most enjoyable in his support role.

Sunday, November 15, 1998 - Video
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Punchline (1988)
jazza92312 March 2010
55/100. David Seltzer's direction doesn't guide the film along as it should, he doesn't seem to know what direction to go in. . It jumps from comedy, to satire, heavy drama, romance and back again. Sally Fields and Tom Hanks try, but the material they are working with just doesn't know what it wants to be. The romantic angle is completely out of place, and overall the bitterness of the film is a turn off. Even the stand up comedy scenes shown in the film that are supposed to be good, simply aren't. The ending is not satisfying at all. It is a shame the stars didn't get better material, it could have worked so well in different hands.
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Stand up Move out
tedg19 June 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers herein.

Filmmakers like to tinker with genres. That's the most direct and easy path to cleverness. One template is to make two genres into characters, then to embody them in people. When the people interact, you have a battle of film genres. When the people are alone, you have the genre in its normal form. Lynch took this to extremes with "Blue Velvet" of the year or two before. Although the craft is far less here, the ambition is equally advanced.

On the one hand, we have a simple date movie: charming Sally (with her charming girls) has a marriage dilemma. There's some charming humor with making dinner. There's some minor threat to all this sweetness (the threat represented by the big, bad Church), even (gasp!!!) a bad hairdo. But loving husband comes through in the end. Sally is perfect for this, our prototype of absolute earnestness, moving through Lucille redheadedness.

On the other hand we have a genre that has exploded in the past decade: the reflexive film where the performances are about performances, the skits are about skits, the character is schizoid because the position of the actor is also, simultaneously playing the performed and the performer. Here it is a standup comedian whose life and performance are confused. Sally is an archetype but she is also a performer so she finds herself sharing the stage, even contesting the stage with Hanks. Naturally she doesn't need to win, and her genre resolves as planned.

Hanks does need to win. He lives in two layers: the madness of the performer and the madness of the performance: a commonly sought situation for intelligent actors. I call this folding. The whole film is constructed around one scene, the scene in the diner where Sally distances her genre from Hanks; genre and (because he is layered) his character. Watch him try the inside-outside acting shifts that Jack Nicholson invented. Watch him quote one of the most influential films in the folded films movement (for Hollywood), "Singing in the Rain." Watch him even try a few Brando mannerisms.

Its a pretty brilliant idea. And it is pretty inspired and risky acting. Hanks has since become a joke, When he says he made only three good movies, I am certain he has this one in mind. Actually, his thread is bungled by the writer/director. There?s a bad decision in introducing his character with an anatomy test. And his material doesn't match his character: when comedy is a defense against life it is different than lots of what he does, excepting the "hate stylist" notion.

But he really does try here, and it is an intelligent notion.

Ted?s Evaluation -- 2 of 4: Has some interesting elements.
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Made by people with no sense of humor...
moonspinner5525 February 2007
A 'dramedy' about stand-up comedy written and directed by David Seltzer, who shows no wistfulness or whimsy for show-biz--for him, it's all about the anxiety of getting a performance right. Tom Hanks has acting talent to spare, yet he does not possess the right timing to be convincing as a stand-up comic (he's all fired up, but he's firing blanks). Sally Field fares somewhat better as a housewife/amateur comedienne who looks to Tom for advice and finds herself a little smitten; her routine on-stage isn't convincing either, but Field's gumshun saves her (she's likable despite the character being a cut-out). John Goodman (as Field's husband) has made a career out of playing down-to-earth, amiable guys; though he's unable to really shine with this shallow material, his low-keyed, self-effacing acting style brings out the best in Seltzer's formulaic impulses--he's the most pleasant part of the film. The writing is so purposefully sour, one squirms through the jokes as much as through the drama. The movie's main purpose is to show us the dark side of comedy...but who wants to see that? *1/2 from ****
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Rarely-Funny Comedians Struggle to Find What They're Searching For
drqshadow-reviews22 July 2014
A moderately hard-edged drama about the private and public lives of comedians, with a special emphasis on the desperate lengths they'll go to for a laugh, or to get an edge on the competition. Sally Field is the focal figure, a mousey housewife who feels destined for greatness but can't locate her own voice, while Tom Hanks plays a big supporting role as a natural performer who's an irresponsible, selfish a-hole behind the scenes. It's an uneven picture that doesn't really click for a number of different reasons. Primary among them is this unspoken sense that a movie about comedians should be funny. Though the on-stage segments are indeed quite flat, big punchlines (if you'll forgive the pun) aren't really the point of this story. Less forgivable is the awkward, cloudy relationship between Hanks and Field that dominates the plot, and the constant shifts in tone from one scene to the next. I never got a real handle on where the film was going, what it wanted to be or to say. That writing jokes is hard, I guess? Sometimes the happiest guy in the spotlight is actually a poisonous, miserable bastard? A complicated, tentative take that's puzzling in its lack of a firm identity.
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The film may be about a punchline, but it doesn't have its own
raisleygordon25 March 2016
"Punchline" is interesting, but not interesting enough. This movie is awfully one-sided. And it also doesn't have any ambiguity. The only character in this movie that does any real disagreeing is the John Goodman character. And yet, I expected him to yell, but he doesn't. Make him grouchy, and you might have a character, no matter how relevant to the plot, that works. And don't even get me started on the casting of Sally Field as a comedian. Seriously? Sally Field as a stand-up comedian? What were the filmmakers thinking? Why not cast someone Tom Hanks's age? Some of the audience in the movie may be laughing, but I didn't find myself laughing too much. And you probably won't either.

**1/2 out of ****
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A very good movie that aged very well
rteodore24 December 2020
I am a big fan of this movie. For the rom-com genre it is even in the year 2020 a refreshing storyline with well developed non stereotypical characters that show both good and bad traits as human beings. The story does reflect a still resounding message about the 80s lifestyles and especially role conformity women have battled in order to achieve authenticity. All this while never really vilifying anybody per se, but showing how people deal with changes in a confrontational manner that still comes from a place of love. While thematizing such developments it does so through the eyes of three great characters. Tom Hanks, Sally Field and John Goodman deliver very good and credible performances while also establishing strong immersion through their great chemistry. The stand-up snippets are also pretty funny and it never leaves the comedy aspect to fall behind
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I'm Ready To Answer That Question Now!!
dataconflossmoor-125 February 2010
This film was made in 1988, that happened to be the best year of my life. Why? I became totally satisfied with all the decisions I made, I loved being a reckless bachelor, and everyone around me seemed to be happy! Nationally speaking, in 1988, we were not at war, our economy was great, and a Republican was in the White House. Invariably, our checks and balances sheet gets bonus points when our economy is booming during a Republican administration. When Democrats are in the White House during a good economy, it is as if their implemented economic plans are a necessary evil. Republican's phraseology during a good economy under their watch is one of "Rugged Individualist Spirit" which basically becomes a euphemistic phrase for "Our policies are a luxury our nation can actually afford". What does this long dissertation have to do with this movie? Mostly the fact that it reflected our cop-aesthetic disposition as a nation during this period in time (1980's). In 1988, the camaraderie everybody shared with each other was due to the fact that they were all happy. The movie "Punchline" evoked a plight of "We are all happy, except!" "Except what?" "Except for the fact that I want to tell jokes" Tom Hanks and Sally Field are an unbeatable combination of acting talent that unearth a bevy of identifiable human frailties. For Sally Field's character, this was the question that she was finally ready to answer now; "You have a happy home and a wonderful family, why is it so important for you to be funny?" The answer,"I must express a part of myself that is me". "Indeed, such a craving is so important to me that it is as addictive as any harmful drug." The fact is, making people laugh is like a gambling addiction, alcoholism, smoking whatever, cocaine, or even investing good money after bad in a go nowhere business venture. Drugs and alcohol are for a kick! Investing money in a failing business venture is for purposes of hoping against hope that you will turn everything around and make huge profits! Telling jokes and being funny are all in the anxious anticipation that you will receive an unprecedented individualistic gratification!! This movie depicts whereby for a lot of people, a huge part of them believes that often times, nothing is more important to them than to make somebody genuinely laugh at something they say which is genuinely funny! When they hit a snag and gravitate to a very lackluster sense of humor, which may be as a result of the fact that they are having a run of bad luck with their witty spontaneity, it begins to drive them crazy. Somehow, just like an addiction to drugs and alcohol, making someone laugh is the most important thing in their lives! When this movie was made, Sally Field was 42 years old, this is an age where you begin to engage in soul searching. When I was 42, I lost my job, subsequently, I have yet to get a real one ever since. Your 40's is when your perspective changes and your priorities become increasingly more flippant and philosophical about the regimented and structured criterion which you have been living by! Now is the time for your middle aged fortitude to focus on attitudinal values which are a little more spiritually rewarding. The fact that this movie did not receive critical acclaim, and was downgraded for it's transparent mediocrity, is no surprise to me! This is seemingly appropriate that the academy would not recognize the lethal emphasis on how rewarding the penchant for making people laugh really is to many alternative individuals! So critics not liking this movie too much did not mean that they were wrong! In fact, it almost went in sync with the fact that any rational person cannot fathom that the intensely obsessive urge is to make someone laugh can almost be categorized as a debilitating disease! It can be though, believe me! Tom Hanks is fantastic in this movie, that "Singin in the Rain" score he performs is tremendously authentic!! Here is the gist of this movie from my angle, your average comedian is just a tad unusual, for that matter, so is owning a yacht!! The most appropriate assessment of this film, I liked it, and that is all that matters, or let me put it another way, IT WAS FUNNY!! That's everything, remember! Think of it this way; What can I get you to make you and addict? Crack? Crystal Meth? 100 proof whiskey? Laughter?!!
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Hotoil9 May 2001
There is something not right about this movie. What is it? I don't know. It could be one, a few or all of many things:

Characterizations change by the minute, with flimsy and/or no explanation. It bounces back and forth and back again between slapstick, light-hearted comedy, gritty drama, and sappiness. It spends painful stretches focusing on comedy acts that are supposed to be funny (everyone on the screen thinks they are) but they really aren't. It runs far too long.

But at the same time, it's okay. Amusing at least, and it has it's decent moments, among the forgettable and awkward ones.
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[*spoiler* ensues]! A Feminist Viewpoint
jul_g9 November 2001
Warning: Spoilers
*spoiler* *spoiler* *spoiler* The ending of this film is mentioned here!

This film was great! Tom Hanks' acting was simply superb in realizing this very unusual character. The "singing in the rain" scene is unforgettable in its poignance and wonderful madness with Hanks dancing, slipping, and sliding out there in the rain. Absolutely wonderful!

And the story line was great, and real. Sally Fields very powerfully belts out a great performance in her portrayal of the housewife trying to make it as a standup comic. The scene where she is telling her daughters what she wishes for them is truly touching. Her character, Lyla, is giving her kids the best quality time despite the fact that she has become an absentee mother.

My complaint about this very promising movie is the ending. After all the buildup throughout the film of Lyla's development into a successful comic, the only ending that would have made sense would have had her take the prize and go for it! What lesson are we supposed to be learning here? That a truly successful woman will give up her dream in order to stay home with the kids? Or that she'll quit when she is ahead because actually a man needs to win more than she does for whatever reason? That ending haunts me. Why, why can't a filmmaker just follow through and show us another way? Is there no creative possibility for this character to pursue her career AND be a good Mommy and wife? Must that always be the choice? The time has come for films and other media to be offering us choices, alternatives, and even a vision for the future.

There is nothing noble about another talented woman postponing her own development for the sake of the kids. The real lesson she is teaching her daughters is not necessarily that she's there for them, but that they too will someday have to choose their husbands and family over whatever their dreams are. And that is tragic.
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Great acting and writing overcome weak plot.
alexanderdavies-993822 August 2020
Warning: Spoilers
I'm not surprised that this film didn't perform well at the box office in 1988. Tom Hanks was cast against type and this must have left the public feeling bemused. While it is a change of pace for Hanks to play an unlikable character, he doesn't quite pull make it work but still delivers a very good performance. The scene where he has a meltdown is a big highlight and proof that Tom Hanks was destined for dramatic roles. Sally Fields is great as the character who struggles to keep her family together, whilst attempting to hit the big time on the stand up comedy scene. Her attempts at performing the comedy skits are not bad but her delivery was off base. Her best acting comes with the drama in the screenplay. The biggest problem for me with the movie, is the running time. 117 minutes is simply too long and the plot becomes stretched long before the end. 90 to 100 minutes would have been preferable. For those who think "Punchline" made the mistake of taking its subject seriously, they are missing the point of comedy. Any typical comedian, will say that trying to create new material is about as unfunny as it gets. A more obscure Tom Hanks movie but well worth a look.
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albechri21 May 2000
The movie about passion, love, affair, recognition, self-improvement, and family.

Young Hanks duets with Sally Field in this gripping tale about stand up comedian. A fresh look towards these people who dedicate their life for their passion for laugh.

An interesting twist of plot, when we see John Goodman, started as a painful husband, stuck between his job, turns into a husband who demand more attention and command Sally Field to let go of her career and passion for comedy. And an interesting acts where he turns out to be a real husband. Not a working husband.

The struggle of being oneself. This is the red line of the movie. Some people fooled themselves and others runaway from their faith, while others fight for them and realized their true goals and needs.

A heart-warming, funny, tragic movie. We ended up looking at ourselves, trying to make up jokes and acts up all right while crying and denying ourselves in true life.

Sunday evening movie.
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Happy 60th, Sally!
lee_eisenberg6 November 2006
A few years before Sally Field and Tom Hanks played mother and son in "Forrest Gump", they played stand-up rivals in the light comedy "Punchline". I will say that this isn't the funniest movie that I've ever seen, but it's great just for the tension between the performers, some of the stand-up jokes, and for Tom Hanks's definition of the rectum; you have to agree that his name for it is a lot more descriptive.

So, this movie probably won't give you any kind of religious experience, but it's a fun way to pass time. Also starring John Goodman and Damon Wayans.

Oh, and in case Sally Field is reading this: Happy 60th birthday! I'm in Russia right now, and yesterday, I went to Verkhoturye, where they have a convent. As a semi-birthday present to you, I said that the convent housed a flying nun. I know, you don't like that moniker, but I had to do something. Thanks for everything.
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Unwatchably bad.
RT Firefly1 August 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is erroneously listed under the comedy category. A fair warning, this is not a comedy, it is comicide. It would be more accurately listed as a horror film. The screenplay is the only thing that is laughable. The comedians have lockers back stage? Why, so they can change out of their "comedy costumes"? If a comedian bombs too much, does he lose his locker and get his gear "bagged" like in Rocky? Why not have them punch a clock as they get on and off stage? How much research did writer/director David Seltzer do? He has no idea what it's like to be a comedian. Worst of all, the stand up material that is used in the film is atrocious. You would think if you were going to write a movie about stand up comedy, you might want to get that part right. Seltzers comprehension of stand up comedy is so clueless he couldn't even have a comedian bomb the right way. David, I have news for you, when audiences don't like a comedian, they don't sit in rapt silence, they boo. They yell things like, `get off the stage' or "you suck and you know it". Which leads me to another question, how the hell did this film ever get made? Hey, I have an idea, lets have the guy that wrote The Omen do a film on Stand up comedy!

Hanks is a great comedic actor, but does not have what it takes to play a stand up. Robin Williams or someone with stage experience would have been a much better choice, but I doubt anything could save this comedic tale from bombing.


This film sucks.
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It does not get any unfunnier than this film
robertazzo31 May 2020
Here is a film loaded with unfunny, boring jokes and annoying characters. I can honestly say I did not laugh at one joke in this movie. It is hard to believe Fields and Hanks actually took money for starring in this flop, not to mention compromising their integreties. Giving it one star was generous. It was a waste of over two hours of my time. If you are not in the mood to laugh, this is the movie for you.
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