HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Comedian
HTS Overall Score:64
Comedy is always defined as being one of the most subjective forms of entertainment on the planet. What one person finds offensive is hilarious to another, and what someone believes is absolutely side splitting may be a bore fest to someone else. I was first drawn to the comedian due to the incredible amount of comedic talent brought on board. Leslie Mann, Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, and countless real life standup comedians are made as cameos throughout the project. De Niro has been on a downward spiral for the last several years (“Dirty Grandpa” anyone?), but I was really hoping that with the amount of support talent for the film and the lack of “mainstream” production that this would turn out to be a rise to former glory, or at least an entertaining indie comedy to watch. Sadly this effort turns De Niro into an even WORSE character than his role in “Dirty Grandpa” and had my slack jaw almost hitting the floor as I watched this one play out on screen.
Jackie Burke (Robert De Niro) is an aging comedian who is starting to slip off the gravy train. His last big gig was a hit sitcom called “Eddie’s Home” and the last remnants of that are fading as his fans get older and older. After beating a heckler at one of his latest shows with a microphone (in one of the few funny scenes of the movie), Jackie is sent to the pokey for 30 days and given 100 hours of community service for his little faux pas. While there he meets another one of his ilk (someone serving community service for assault that is) named Harmony Schlitz (Leslie Mann) who happens to be about 25 years his junior. The two hit it off and voila, they spend a few days (and nights) together before going their separate ways.
I wish I could tell you more about the plot, but there really isn’t that much to tell. The script tends to meander and wander around a whole lot, watching as Jackie Burke stumbles around from gig to gig realizing that he’s not the same comedian he was 20 years ago. The little “hookup” with Harmony is used as a plot device to get to the inevitable fact that Jackie has to grow up, but still doesn’t seem to add much to the story in any meaningful way. I get the premise of watching an aging comedian deal with the death throes of his career, but “The Comedian” just manages to slide along like a slug, just oozing its way towards the finish line without any meaningful direction or handling of the story.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96698[/img]To make matters worse, “The Comedian” is completely unfunny as well. I tried cracking a smile now and again, but the jokes fell flatter than a pancake and I was honestly wracking my brain trying to figure out WHY the writers would think his stand-up lines were actually humorous. The only funny part in the entire movie came from when De Niro was roasting an aging actress named May Connor (Cloris Leachman) up on stage.
The talent behind the project was staggering as we have De Niro, Mann, Danny DeVito, Charles Grodin (making a nice “Midnight Run” team up with De Niro), Billy Crystal, Jimmy Walker, Jim Norton and many more famous faces making appearances. Largely the film feels as if it had a directing crisis. The talent was just wining it and looked just as confused and lost as the people watching the film. I really had high hopes for the film, but after seeing this, I have to wonder if Robert De Niro has any gas left in the tank, or if he’s relegated to being another John Travolta, Steven Seagal, and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Rated R for crude sexual references and language throughout
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96706[/img]“The Comedian” was SUPPOSED to come out on Blu-ray and DVD like a normal release, but like “Toni Erdmann” was mysteriously scrapped and is being released on DVD with the Blu-ray being relegated to the controversial Sony MOD program (meaning it’s manufactured on demand when you purchase it and burned on a Burnable Blu-ray BD-R). I would have loved to have seen the Blu-ray, but the DVD will have to do considering the circumstances. The DVD looks pretty solid for a 480p release, showing off a decently natural color grading for the digital production, and a pretty sharp looking image most of the time. The only problems are that there is excessive noise spikes here and there and a goodly portion of the film is a bit too soft for my tastes. Macroblocking and mild haloing happen here and there, and the blacks look a bit crushed. The image isn’t horrible by any means, but it is a bit mediocre for a brand new release.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=96714[/img]The audio fares a bit better than the video and is actually pretty immersive for a dramedy. Vocals are crisp and cleanly presented in the center channel and the mains get a good workout with the laughs and boos of the standup crowds. LFE has fairly minimal activity except to accentuate the music or a few mic drops on stage. Surrounds aren’t used a whole lot as it’s a fairly front heavy mix, but there’s some background chatter at a restaurant or in a comedy club to liven up the back speakers here and there.
• Deleted Scenes
• Backstage With The Comedian
• The Comedian at AFI Fest: Red Carpet and Q&A with Robert De Niro, Leslie Mann, Danny Devito and Taylor Hackford
“The Comedian” has a lot of things going for it on paper, but sadly the talented cast and the conglomeration of behind the scenes efforts were largely in vain. The jokes fell flat and the drama was pretty much not even on the radar. I ended up feeling kind of bad for all involved as you could tell the film had its heart in the right place, but heart without effort just ends up being a steaming mess. Audio and video are solid enough for a DVD comedy (I can now kind of understand why this film only got an MOD release for the Blu-ray) and the extras are ok. While some may want to check out “The Comedian” based upon the cast list, I would personally just skip it and look for something more worthwhile. Skip It.
Starring: Robert De Niro, Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito
Directed By: Taylor Hackford
Written By: Art Lionson, Jeffrey Ross
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 MPEG2
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Runtime: 120 Minutes
DVD Release Date: May 2nd, 2017
Buy The Comedian on DVD at Amazon
Buy The Comedian on MOD Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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