A love letter to comics: De Niro’s ‘The Comedian’
WHILE there are a few good laughs to be had in “The Comedian “— and great cameos by myriad comics — Taylor Hackford’s film isn’t exactly a comedy.
It’s a portrait of an aging entertainer, unfortunately hampered by the tired trope of a May-December romance and the implication that men find redemption in success while women find it in motherhood. Such outdated elements detract from an otherwise interesting character study and heartfelt love letter to New York City and the camaraderie among its comedians.
Robert De Niro is Jackie Burke, a once-famous sitcom star who yearns for respect as a standup comic. He resents his fans for associating him with the character he used to play on the hit “Eddie’s Home,” and he bristles when they call him Eddie. Jackie isn’t always kind to his long-suffering manager (Edie Falco, disappointingly underused) and insults the patrons at the small-town clubs where he performs.
After tussling with a heckler at one of his shows, Jackie is sentenced to jail and community service. He’s working at a New York City soup kitchen when he meets Harmony (Leslie Mann), who’s
Harvey Keitel ( left) and Robert De Niro in a scene from, “The Comedian.”