Release Date: February 3rd at AMC Studio 30 & AMC First Colony 24
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 120 min.
An aging comic icon, JACKIE BURKE (Robert De Niro) has seen better days. Despite his efforts to reinvent himself and his comic genius, the audience only wants to know him as the former television character he once played. Already a strain on his younger brother (Danny DeVito) and his wife (Patti LuPone), Jackie is forced to serve out a sentence doing community service for accosting an audience member. While there, he meets HARMONY (Leslie Mann), the daughter of a sleazy Florida real estate mogul (Harvey Keitel), and the two find inspiration in one another resulting in surprising consequences. Through the alchemy of their unlikely friendship, Harmony and Jackie overcome their own emotional damage and emerge as better people.
In The Comedian, Jackie Burke Robert De Niro made his name decades ago as the gruff headliner in a Honeymooners-style sitcom, complete with a signature catchphrase. In an all too true story, decades later, that line is what is fans still want to hear. In the age of YouTube, Jackie wonders if he's too old-fashioned, especially after a heckler goads him into a brawl that sends Jackie to jail. It's there that Jackie meets Harmony Leslie Mann, another hothead with a heart of gold, who's also doing community service. Jackie soon discovers that, far from having seen it all, he still has a lot to learn.
This film is full of talent. Clever cameos by Cloris Leachman, Lois Smith, and Billy Crystal lend an air of legitimate comedy to the film and are a welcome addition to an already talented cast. Also short cameos by Gilbert Gottfried, Hannibal Buress, Stewie Stone, Richard Belzer, and Jimmie "DY-NO-MITE" Walker perk up the screen and always keeps us watching for more. Edie Falco turns in an endearing performance as Jackie's long-suffering manager Miller, Danny De Vito playing Jackie's brother - a hard-working deli owner, and Patti LuPone playing Jackie's sister-in-law, who despises Jackie.
According to IMDb trivia, De Niro has tried to get this one off the ground for eight years, with Sean Penn and Mike Newell attached to direct at different points. There’s an underlying sweetness laced throughout the story, one that sometimes saves the overall film from complete failure. Although the movie does have some laugh out loud moments, overall it felt a little flat. At its best, it’s an enjoyable rainy Saturday afternoon movie.