Jackie (Robert DeNiro) is a comic icon, attempting to reinvent himself despite his audience only wanting to know him as a television character he played earlier in his career. After accosting an audience member, Jackie is sentenced to community service where he meets Harmony Schiltz (Leslie Mann).Written by
Former TV star Jackie Burke (Robert DeNiro) is now performing in small and useless clubs where his profane and offensive act really isn't going over any more. After an altercation with a heckler, Jackie finds himself doing community service where he meets a young woman (Leslie Mann) and soon them two kick it off as the comedian finds more and more going wrong in his life.
Can someone explain how a movie director by Taylor Hackford with a cast that includes DeNiro, Mann, Harvey Keitel, Danny DeVito, Charles Grodin, Cloris Leachman and Billy Crystal could turn out so lifeless? I mean, how on Earth can you get such talent in one movie and the end result be so bad? I've heard that the film was booed and had several walk-outs during its premiere in Toronto. I'm not sure how try that is but if so that's a bit harsh because the movie isn't that bad but at the same time it is incredibly disappointing and rather pointless.
This was apparently a dream project for DeNiro who spent several years trying to get it off the ground. People have given the actor a lot of crap over the past decade or so for his willingness to do any film for a check. I will never put someone down for wanting to make money and the actor has appeared in some lousy movies and some others that he was just lending his name to for a check but he always delivered a performance and made those films better. For the first time in his career I think he's the reason a movie is bad.
Sadly, DeNiro just isn't very good here and there's no question that he just wasn't right for the role. I'm really not sure what the screenplay was trying to do or say but it just doesn't work and the entire film just seems rather pointless. DeNiro is certainly giving it an A+ effort but there's just no soul or anything to the character. DeNiro is actually pretty boring in the part and he just wasn't believable as this washed up comic. This here shocked me because I think the actor can do comedy and he's played a comedian before in the masterpiece THE KING OF COMEDY. It just doesn't work here and it's really too bad.
The only time his performance really sparks is a sequence where he and Keitel go after one another. If you're a fan of the early films they did together then you'll get a kick out of seeing them battle again. Mann was good in her supporting role as was Grodin, Leachman and Crystal in their bit parts. DeVito gets a couple funny moments as well but there's no question that they can't save the film. Yes, even DeNiro has a couple funny bits but there's just no denying that overall the film is a major misfire.
I'm really not sure what the point of THE COMEDIAN was as the screenplay is all over the place. Is it meant to show us the bottom side of the comedy game? Watch THE WRESTLER, which did a much better job at showing the low points of a profession. Was the romance with Mann supposed to mean something? If so, what when you've got DeNiro and her father (Keitel) fighting like a romantic comedy? There's a dramatic twist in the story at the end. What was the point? What was the point of the DeNiro character being so unlikable? THE COMEDIAN isn't an awful film. It's slightly entertaining and the cast will at least keep you glued to what's going on but there's no doubt that the film is just a major bust.
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