The Comedian (2016) Trailer #1
Robert De Niro
The Comedian (2016) Trailer #1>>>>Recently made headlines for saying he could no longer punch Donald Trump in the face now the New York businessman is president-elect. It’s the kind of thing you could imagine his character in The Comedian, the misanthropic burned-out standup Jackie Burke, working into a routine or perhaps taking a step further. In fact, Burke – whose put-upon manager is played by Edie Falco – doesn’t have any such issues with self-constraint, and triggers the film’s first act by assaulting a heckling audience member in a public breakdown that has shades of Michael Richards.
That outburst sets up the well-worn premise of The Comedian: a standup who can’t shake his best known and, often, most mainstream character. Unlike De Niro’s portrayal of wannabe comic Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy – who was a Walter Mitty fantasist a mile away from the big time – Burke has tasted success, and that’s the problem. Despite his best efforts Burke can’t get his fans to see him as something other than Eddie, a sitcom dad who is somewhere between Archie Bunker and Ray Romano. He’s got a catchphrase (“Arlene!”), there’s a suitably hokey theme tune (think Too Many Cooks), which his fellow inmates sing to him when he’s imprisoned for assault and for people of a certain age, it’s clear he’ll forever be Eddie from Eddie’s Home.
It’s while serving his community service at a homeless shelter that Eddie meets fellow malcontent Harmony Schultz, played by Leslie Mann, who transitions smoothly here between the kind of off-the-cuff insult slinging see honed on This Is 40 and a more serious dramatic turn. They become fast friends with Eddie providing some gallows humor for Harmony, who is going through a messy breakup and assault charges herself. The unlikely bedfellows drive much of the action but it’s the peripheral figures who bring in many of the laughs. Danny DeVito plays Burke’s younger brother, while Harvey Keitel is the villain as Harmony’s formerly mobbed-up father, who now runs a retirement home in Florida. They’re joined by cameos from real-life standups such as Hannibal Buress and Jim Norton, who helped De Niro prepare for the role.
Actual comedians have taken on this subject matter before. Ricky Gervais did it in Extras; Larry David is in the middle of producing season nine of Curb Your Enthusiasm; and Steve Coogan’s The Trip often dwells on what happens when you dwell too long. With only the length of a feature film to get his point across, Hackford manages to craft something with a similar feel while creating a film that’s far more accessible for mainstream audiences. The storyline does get frayed towards the end, with a pregnancy plot perhaps being a little bit too obviously designed to get Mann and DeNiro to a dramatic confrontation, but that’s not really the point; as long as you’re here for the dick jokes.