Getting the right title for a film can make all the difference in the world. With films like “Saving Private Ryan”, The Waterboy”, and Rosemary’s Baby”, you know what you are getting into with the title, but what if they were called something else? Would you run out and see “Following Captain Miller”, “You can do it!” or “The Baby with his Father’s Eyes”? I would think not. So when I saw a film coming out called “The Comedian” with Robert De Niro, I was looking forward to a film filled with laughs. And that’s what I got, the only problem is I was laughing at it, not with it, and I’m pretty sure that was not the intention.
Jackie (Robert De Niro) is one of those stand up comedians who struck it big with a sitcom back in the day. Now that he is older, he still tries to make a living doing stand up, but all everyone wants to see is Eddie, the character he played on that show. Jackie is not the nicest guy in the world, in fact he really is just an a-hole. Not being a nice guy has led Jackie to lead a lonely and angry life and after an altercation with a fan and some jail time he gets to serve some community service. It is doing that service where he meets Harmony (Leslie Mann), a woman who is serving her own punishment, but seems to get along with Jackie. Soon they are hanging out and doing things like attending Jackie’s niece’s wedding, and Harmony taking Jackie to meet her father Mac (Harvey Keitel). Everything doesn’t stay in tune with those two, as she soon moves back to Florida to help her father. Jackie meanwhile finds new life with some viral videos that allows him to be who he is, while actually becoming someone people want to see again.
Robert De Niro playing someone who used to be someone great starts to feel a little too close to reality as you watch this film. De Niro who was the definition of a tough guy in movies for so long, has made his act in his later years about a tough guy trying to get laughs, and it is not really working for him as of late. Joining De Niro is a group of actors and comedians who have been in out homes forever it seems. With names like Cloris Leachman, Harvey Ketiel, Danny DeVito, and Edie Falco, among many others, twenty years ago you wouldn’t have seen these names in one film. Thanks to age though, you get to see them, as it seems as actors get older, the roles they get sucked into just never seem to land. Joining the actors in the “what were you thinking” category, is director Taylor Hackford, who had some great runs in both the 80’s and 90’s, and just ten years ago was up for best director at the Oscars. There is nothing funny about this picture, and at times it just hurts watching it. You always hope the best when you start watching a new movie, and even though I had warnings about the quality of this film, like any wreck it was hard for me not to watch. Now that it is done, all I can do it pass the message that was said to me, and tell you skip this one, because a movie called “The Comedian” should be all about the funny, any kind of funny.