Film Review – The Comedian
There has not been much promotion for The Comedian, at least through social media and movie news websites. That usually says something about its quality. However, The Comedian seems to have thwarted any bad juju Sony Pictures Classics has placed on it because this film is one of the funniest films of the past six months.
The Comedian centers on Jackie Birker (Robert De Niro), a comic who is known for his widely-popular sitcom and is not really thrilled to be associated with being “Eddie” and constantly asked to say the role’s iconic line. He is not doing well in the finances department, even though he is revered by others in his occupation. Schlepping it to a small-paying gig in Hicksville, Jackie hits his limit and attacks an audience member. While doing community service, he meets Harmony (Leslie Mann) and they strike up a friendship that turns partially romantic. Because of this relationship, his past history, and his money problems, Jackie must turn over a new leaf or at least make people laugh to get there.
This is a film chockful of major actors and comedians, and that is a huge plus. Almost every scene has someone new show up. Edie Falco plays his agent, Danny DeVito is his brother, and Patti LuPone is his sister-in-law. Harvey Keitel also plays a major role as Harmony’s father and portrays a rich guy with everything handed to him very well. The comics appearing in The Comedian are one of the highlights with Hannibal Buress, Billy Crystal, Charles Grodin, and Brett Butler making appearances.
The comedic genius of this film are the insult comic lines given to De Niro and the great casting. Who doesn’t want to see De Niro and DeVito as brothers with LuPone breathing down their necks. Alas, if you do not like insult comedy and curse words, you will not be laughing as much as I did during this film. You could use the word “crass” and “distasteful” for some of Jackie’s jokes.
The “critic” in me has to take a step back from the laughs to evaluate if it wasn’t so funny, would this be a good film to see? Probably not. The comedy writing is on point, but if it did not get the laughs it did, the film would be just average. Another 60-something year old man trying to get in the pants of a younger woman with mixed results. It is basically about a guy who has faltered in his career, doesn’t have any money, finds a girl, and gets his good luck back. When you throw in the laughs and the casting, it elevates the film to another level.
One minor issue is the use of “viral videos” in this film, and they being the downfall and saving grace of Jackie. It’s like someone forgot to ask their kids what it actually means.
The Comedian is not perfect, but it is hilarious (if you like that type of humor). It is a needed cure for stress and anxiety for a couple of hours. It is an unexpected film that is deserving of more attention, and will hopefully enjoy success via word of mouth.