Robert De Niro trades in his serious face for a funnier one in “The Comedian.”
Niro plays Jackie Burke, an old-time comedian from a popular sitcom. When the sitcom ended, Burke transitioned to standup comedy and has performed in countless cities. He returns to New York City to give a show at a small comedy club.
After getting in a fight with a member of the audience, Burke is sentenced to 30 days in prison and 100 hours of community service. While working at the local soup kitchen and cracking bad pilgrim jokes, he meets Harmony Schiltz (Leslie Mann), a fellow convict who is serving 250 hours for assaulting her ex-boyfriend.
Burke feels bad when Schiltz says she is having a terrible day. He takes her out to a comedy club, where he shows off his on-the-cusp comedy. Then he asks her to attend his niece’s wedding as his “wingman,” after his brother Jimmy (Danny DeVito) and his wife, Florence (Pattie LuPone) heckle him for never keeping in touch.
“The Comedian” is supposed to be a comedy, but there are only a few scenes that are funny. Some of Burke’s jokes went too far and became disturbingly unfunny.
A few of these jokes included him picking on his niece for being a lesbian, saying his father molested Jimmy and found Jackie unattractive, and saying pilgrims would have sex with turkeys instead of eating them. Billy Crystal was funnier, appearing on screen for only a few minutes!
My photojournalism professor is funnier than Jackie Burke.
The few good jokes from Burke included picking on a man with a face like Donald Trump and calling Flo an 800-pound gorilla. The plot fell flat when Jackie and Harmony had a romantic fling and she ran away to Florida with her father, Mac (Harvey Keitel).
Either Niro should stick to his serious roles or work with better comedic writers. “The Comedian” was far from funny and as Jackie described in a song he sang with senior citizens at a retirement home, this movie was a load of “poopie!”
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics (2 hr.)
Cast: Robert De Niro, Danny DeVito, Leslie Mann, Harvey Keitel, Edie Falco, Patti LuPone, Lucy DeVito, Billy Crystal
Director: Taylor Hackford
Story: An old-time comic tries to recreate his comedic image.
Final Score: F