Further proof that old TV shows do not need a remake.Is it worth $10? Nope“CHIPS” is loathsome....
Yet another movie about stand-up comedians that is notably not funny.
Is it worth $10? No
On paper, “The Comedian” looks promising. It stars Robert De Niro, Edie Falco, Danny DeVito, Leslie Mann and Harvey Keitel – solid cast. Notable comedians from past and present appear in cameos, including Billy Crystal and Jim Norton. It was produced and directed by Taylor Hackford (“Ray”), an experienced auteur who knows how to connect with audiences. Indeed, everything about this indicates it could be something special.
And then you watch the movie. The jokes are hit and miss, the story is scattered and contrived, and the protagonist is his own worst enemy. It’s not terrible, but the lack of satisfaction when it’s over is alarming.
“The Comedian” needs to be more consistently funny in order for us to like Jackie. For example, it’s a clever idea to have Jackie test out new material on the homeless people he’s serving at a Thanksgiving soup kitchen. But as he makes dirty jokes about turkey and the early settlers, he fails to connect. Part of this could be De Niro’s delivery, which at times struggles to hit punch lines. Another part could be that Jackie is screaming F-bombs inside a church, and it all just seems wrong. Context and delivery are essential parts of comedy, and neither is what it needs to be here.
Also telling: All of the other comedians who appear and tell jokes – and there are many – are funnier than Jackie, and yet Jackie is supposed to be a comedy legend. Sure, part of the premise is that Jackie is washed up and not as funny as he used to be, but he needs to land more jokes to get us to believe he was ever funny.
It’s always tricky to balance serious drama with humor, because when you’re not a full-out comedy you have fewer opportunities to connect with jokes, which makes it all the more important that the jokes hit. When they don’t hit, you get “The Comedian.”
Did you know?
Lucy DeVito is the daughter of Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman (“Cheers”).