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The Comedian Movie Review

It’s time for another movie review presented by our good friends over at FatCats Gilbert on the southwest corner of Greenfield and Baseline! FatCats Gilbert is the best place to see all of the latest movies and have a great day with the family! With the best prices in the valley, you can bowl, play mini golf, play some arcade games, and eat delicious food with anyone who enjoys a good time!

We have some movies coming out this week that I didn’t expect to see at the beginning of the year, but I was lucky enough to be able to do so! Now I get to talk about The Comedian. Robert DeNiro is one of my favorite actors when you look at a broad scope, but lately, he has been pretty underwhelming. Other than what he has done with David O. Russell and The Intern, he’s at a low point in his career, and in my opinion, he bottomed out with Dirty Grandpa. The Comedian actually had an interesting cast, and I like to think that I know a fair share about stand-up comedy, so I was excited. Let’s talk about The Comedian!

The Comedian is directed by Taylor Hackford and stars Robert DeNiro, Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito, Harvey Keitel, and Cloris Leachman. Jackie Burke, played by DeNiro, is a washed up comedian who never really kickstarted his life. He had a successful television series, but now that the show is all he is known for, he’s a bit frustrated and attempts to pick the pieces up and book some gigs with a new friend at his side.

I feel like this movie should have been somewhat up my alley with the stand-up comedy element. The first thing I noticed was that it was written by Jeff Ross who is the master of roast masters. He is at the top of the food chain when it comes to comedy roasting, so since this movie is about a comedian who relies on roasts in his routines, I thought it would work. I will say that this movie has very good performances. They aren’t stand-out performances, but they worked well for what they needed to do, and they served the story and the film in a perfectly suitable manner. DeNiro can’t possibly get worse than what we saw in Dirty Grandpa, and this is a major step up. I also thought that Leslie Mann was great. We usually see her in Judd Apatow comedies, but in this movie she gets a chance to show her dramatic chops, and it works. I also thought that Danny DeVito was great in the film. He was the voice of reason that we needed so that we didn’t absolutely hate DeNiro’s character, and he served his purpose well. I like how this movie tackled the tough subject of comedian life. The old saying is that the people who try to make others laugh are often very unhappy people, and The Comedian went head on at that subject, and the scenes where Jackie’s life unfolds before our eyes work really well.

Where this movie fails is in the comedy. DeNiro was great, but I couldn’t wrap my head around him as a stand-up comedian. I spend a lot of time listening to stand-up and watching stand-up, so I like to think that I know a lot about it. I’m not an expert or anything, but I know what works, why it works, and how the best can make it work. From what I do know, stand-up is about 50% delivery, 49% atmosphere, and 1% jokes, and delivery feeds into atmosphere and they help each other grow. Delivery and the ability to create great atmosphere are such intangible skills that have to be honed for years that I never bought DeNiro as a stand-up comic. DeNiro is an actor. He has built his craft his entire life, and look where he is now. He’s the proud owner of two Academy Awards. He might be great at becoming another character, but becoming a comic takes years and years of putting a perfect routine together, and DeNiro just didn’t have it. This halted the movie’s ability to create a great atmosphere as well, and I never felt like I was part of a greater whole. In comedy, the audience should feel like a well-oiled machine. Sometimes a piece breaks down, but the magic happens when everything is in perfect rotation and harmony. I never felt like I was part of this audience. Next, I mentioned that Jeff Ross wrote this movie, so I expected it to be hilariously mean-spirited. It felt like Ross gave all of his rejected jokes to this screenplay, and very few jokes hit. There is even a scene with a roast. Jeff Ross was in his happy zone, but it still felt like nothing was clicking. I liked the scenes where the cast just gets to act as compared to the scenes where DeNiro has to be a comedian, but every single time we settle in we go right back to a comedy scene. It never allows itself time to breathe and fully develop as far as the characters go. We get way too many stand-up scenes from DeNiro with a shtick that doesn’t work and a build up to a bathroom joke. A long, painful bathroom joke.

Overall, The Comedian has great performances with great chemistry, but the comedy can never fully come to a head. Jeff Ross wrote this screenplay, but the jokes feel like stale jokes that didn’t make the cut at The Roast of Rob Lowe. There are a lot of professional comedians in this film like Hannibal Buress, and you can tell the difference between DeNiro and the professionals. DeNiro doesn’t have the delivery that creates a working atmosphere. He’s great as Jackie the human, but he falls flat as Jackie the comedian. I’m going to give The Comedian a 4/10.

Will you be seeing The Comedian? Comment down in the comment section and let me know! As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

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Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at movies@pulseradio.fm