February 8, 2017

The Comedian Review

So I said, "I'd like to punch you in the face."

Based on the results that hit the screen, it is hard to fathom what drew this above-average cast—Robert De Niro, Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito, Edie Falco, Cloris Leachman, Harvey Keitel, Patti LuPone and a plethora of familiar stand-up comics—to this average-at-best film. 

Thirty years ago, Jackie Burke (De Niro) had a hit TV show. Now, he is an aging stand-up with a routine dependent upon insults. A violent encounter with a heckler gets Jackie thrown in jail, but also sets up a life-changing meet-cute with Mann’s Harmony Schultz. Scene to scene, De Niro ranges from charming to soporific. Mann, for once, is allowed to be more than shrill, if not much else. What a hackneyed third act plot device to trot out, even if it does offer the movie’s expected but still satisfying conclusion. 

Jackie’s stand-up routine has flashes of brilliance, but typically devolves into foul-mouthed, not-quite-creative-enough insults; Jackie is no Don Rickles. This forgettable film’s script may have started with visions of fall grandeur, but a behind-the-camera transition from Martin Scorsese to Taylor Hackford relegated it to the wasteland of winter.