Reviews of The King of Comedy
Displaying all 3 reviews
Title: The King of Comedy
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Martin Scorsese
Writer: Paul D. Zimmerman
Robert De Niro
Frederick De Cordova
Thomas M. Tolan
Scorsese and De Niro’s less appreciated opus, a box-office dead-on-arrival upon its release, after RAGING BULL (1980, 8/10), Scorsese decisively contemplated to change the lane from the bloodbath sport-drama fest, so it comes this black comedy, an unsung maniac-opportunist-comedian Rupert Pupkin (De Niro), disillusioned by his hankering friendship with the on-the-job talk show host Jerry Langford (Lewis), colludes with the radical Jerry fanatic Masha (Bernhard), they kidnap him and extort the show runner to allot ten minutes for Rupert to perform his monologue on TV, and unlike any other plans usually go awry in order to leave room for twists, Scorsese and writer Paul D. Zimmerman instrument an ambiguous comeuppance thanks to the film’s shrewd amalgam of reality and hallucination.
As a pungent satire to the instant showbiz fame and the celebrity’s overwrought mental condition with the autograph hounds and devout stalkers, the film is an eloquent body of work in manipulating its viewer’s empathetic oscillation between Pupkin and Langford, for instance, on the one hand, I feel repellent towards Jerry’s hubris and snootiness (his deadly oomph towards women is something I could never understand, what a great job for Bernhard to deliver the madness in front of such a distasteful sine qua non), on the other hand, when put myself in his shoes, the nettlesome Pupkin is a parasite-like cipher one instinctively despises. The same could be transposed with Pupkin, one moment you regard him as a deadbeat chatterbox by badgering Jerry, next scene you feel sorry for him because we know Jerry will shatter his dreams sooner or later, and when that dramatic moment eventually happens, the interplay among Pupkin, Jerry and Rita (Pupkin’s love interest played by De Niro’s then-wife Abbott) is spontaneous, awkwardly cringing and impeccably acted.
De Niro has unwaveringly forsaken his acting skill since his glorious years (70s to 80s), a committed incarnation of a stand-up comedian in his hard-earned live stint, but an overall, his comedian bent may be not as hyped as he claims, at least, not ground-breaking enough to be at a king’s level, thus making the ending resound with a more cynically suspicious irony. De Niro’s methodological strenuousness seems to be markedly discordant with Lewis’ more naturalistic instinct-driven skill, which actually is an opportune win-win situation both for the comic vein and for the actors, they are ranking high in my respective categories. Also Bernhard is spectacular in her nut’s sickly possessiveness despite of her less-limned backstory, maybe she is a much qualified comedian than her pal.
An unfeigned delight to watch this film and to revere more towards Mr. Scorsese, whose all-purpose greatness is an unerring beacon to guide his disciples and an insatiable lure to his ceaseless fan club recruits.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
Writing this review in 2011, it is quite ironic that although this movie wasn’t brilliantly received on its first opening, it can certainly be viewed now as ahead of its time. This picture deals with the “celebrity” and the mania that surrounds a fanatic. We see nowadays with pop stars and film stars the attention they receive in public from everyday people and this film seems to consult a subject that is relevant in our society almost 30 years later.
The storyline is quite simple – a wannabe comedian hassles and bothers his celebrity comedian idol (Jerry Lewis) until he is forced into drastic measures. Scorsese has given us some psycho/sociopath characters over the years in Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver), Max Cady (De Niro in Cape Fear), Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci in Goodfellas) and Nicky Santoro (Pesci in Casino) to name a few, and once The King of Comedy has been viewed, you can certainly add Rupert Pupkin to that list, wonderfully played by Robert De Niro (in his 5th film under the direction of Scorsese).
Pupkin is a character most people identify with as we look to a better future and wish to be held in higher esteem. De Niro is perfect as Pupkin in a very underrated role. He brings the everyday man to the character as well as displaying a combination of comedy and horror at the same time as his character delves into a disturbed state.
The film itself is funny and has some wonderful lines and scenes that are memorable days after viewing. Films like this aren’t made any more, films that is a real character study of a average man trying to be anything but average.
The rest of the cast are also quite brilliant in this picture. Jerry Lewis kind of playing himself as a famous comedian (the chemistry is brilliant with Lewis and De Niro), and Sandra Bernhard as De Niro’s rival fan who has a lustful agenda toward the famous comedian.
Also look out for cameo’s by Martin Scorsese (as a TV director) and his late mother Catherine, who plays Rupert’s mother off-screen as we only hear her holla’s from upstairs in the house.
If you are a fan of De Niro or Scorsese, or just a fan of black comedy, this is a film for you. Very underrated and has an unusual PG rating for a Scorsese/De Niro movie as it is what is not said that is easy to see for the audience. Great film!
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
An extremely well done film from Martin Scorsese that brings together comedy and horror quite nicely. Robert De Niro gave one of his best performances as Rupert Pupkin, the talk show host that never was. It is a highly suspenseful and shocking film that should be essential to any fan of Scorsese or De Niro. What makes it so bizarre is the fact that it seems so realistic, there’s no out of control moments or sporadic craziness. There’s more of a slow descent into madness. Of course it’s beautifully shot and inventive, that comes hand in hand with the name Scorsese. However, this is really a slower and more deadpan approach than usual. There aren’t any tough talking characters or overly hectic scenes, it’s just one man going around pretending he’s someone famous.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.