Entertainment » Movies

The Comedian

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Feb 3, 2017
Robert De Niro and Leslie Mann star in 'The Comedian'
Robert De Niro and Leslie Mann star in 'The Comedian'  

The latest starring role for veteran actor Robert De Niro is "The Comedian," the story of an aging stand-up comedian who is trying to resurrect his faded career. The film was evidently a passion project that De Niro had been pursuing for years; it is a pity, then, that despite his unquestionable charm -- and talent, of course -- this new movie is an unfortunate mishmash that amounts to a wasted opportunity.

De Niro plays Jackie Burke, an actor who had found fame and fortune starring in a hit TV sitcom called "Eddie's Home" several decades before. Try as he may, his fans won't let him forget the show. His act as a stand-up comedian based on insult jokes doesn't go down well with anyone, and one night actually leads to a fracas where Jackie gets arrested and jailed. When he is freed to do community service he meets Harmony (a very spirited Leslie Mann) who is doing time for beating up her ex. What follows is an attempt at age-inappropriate relationship, which is as unsettling for the audience as it is for Harmony.

On the sidelines there is Jackie's brother (Danny DeVito), who runs a Jewish deli with his frosty wife (wonderfully played by Patti LuPone) and to whom Jackie only visits when he needs another handout. This time it comes at a price when they insist that he attends his lesbian niece's wedding, something they come to regret when his foul-mouth speech insults most of the people in the room.

His far-too-patient agent, Miller (Edie Falco), works her magic to get the almost unemployable Jackie a gig at a Friar Club Roast for 95-year-old star comedian May Conner (a scene-stealing Cloris Leachman), but that turns sour when May ups and dies before he can get going.

Meanwhile, Harmony has now fled town and started working for her creepy father (Harvey Krietel) running his seniors home in Florida. She has been refusing to answer any of Jackie's calls or emails, but despite this, when he gets a gig in the area he pays her a surprise visit. His routine in front of the residents of the home is really one of the low points of this movie, from which it never really recovers.

On paper, the movie, directed by Taylor Hackford, has all the ingredients for a rather good movie, as it packs in a wonderful A list of remarkable acting talent, but the weak script meanders all over the place and lets them all down. De Niro meanwhile has us rooting for him when, as Jackie, he genuinely struggles with who he had turned out to be; but on stage he seems as uncomfortable performing his nasty routines as we are watching them.

The Comedian

Jackie Burke, an aging comic icon, 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 and his wife, Jackie is forced to serve out a sentence doing community service for accosting an audience member. While there, he meets Harmony, the daughter of a sleazy Florida real estate mogul, and the two find inspiration in each other.


Runtime :: 120 mins
Release Date :: Feb 03, 2017
Language :: Silent
Country :: United States


Jackie Burke :: Robert De Niro
Harmony Schutz :: Leslie Mann
Miller :: Edie Falco
Mac :: Harvey Keitel
Flo Berkowitz :: Patti LuPone
May Conner :: Cloris Leachman
Karola :: Veronica Ferres
Miriam :: Lois Smith
Himself :: Billy Crystal
Himself :: Jim Norton
Carol Bock :: Beth Malone
Herself :: Jessica Kirson


Director :: Taylor Hackford
Screenwriter :: Art Linson
Screenwriter :: Jeff Ross
Screenwriter :: Richard LaGravenese
Screenwriter :: Lewis Friedman
Producer :: Art Linson
Producer :: John Linson
Producer :: Mark Canton
Producer :: Courtney Solomon
Producer :: Taylor Hackford
Executive Producer :: Scott Karol
Executive Producer :: Wayne Godfrey
Executive Producer :: Robert Jones
Executive Producer :: Iain Abrahams
Executive Producer :: Fredy Bush
Executive Producer :: Dennis Pelino
Executive Producer :: Mark Axelowitz
Executive Producer :: Lawrence Smith
Executive Producer :: Peter Sobiloff
Cinematographer :: Oliver Stapleton
Film Editor :: Mark Warner
Original Music :: Terence Blanchard
Production Design :: Kristi Zea
Costume Designer :: Aude Bronson-Howard
Casting :: Amanda Mackey
Casting :: Cathy Sandrich Gelfond

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.


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