I first learned about ‘The Comedian’ from its New York Times bad review. And it steered me away from seeing it. But I was looking for something to watch, and chanced upon it, and maybe I shouldn’t have had Manohla Dargis sway my judgement. ‘The Comedian’ may not be Citizen Kane, but I found it very enjoyable even as I see its faults.
In the film, the great Robert deNiro stars as Jackie Burke, an aging stand up comic who had a very successful sitcom years ago. So he carries with him the baggage of being Eddie, the character from said show. Burke is one of those insult comics, along the lines of Don Rickles, and nowadays, in this age of political correctness, that type of comedy isn’t as celebrated as it used to be. But De Niro infuses a lot of charm in Jackie, and I truly believed in him as the character. I actually thought about the idea. Does a great performance elevate a film ? Because there isn’t much story here, and the point being driven by the film somehow gets lost along the way, but darn if you can’t take your eyes away from DeNiro. He whispers, he cackles, he punches, he even falls in love, and you are with Jackie Burke all the way. The last quarter of the film gets turned into schlock melodrama, but at that point you have truly gone to the character’s side. I found myself enjoying this film, and I think a lot of people will, if only they discover it.