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The Comedian - DVD Review

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The Comedian - DVD Review

2 stars

Jackie Burke (Robert De Niro) has fallen on hard times lately. He used to star in a hit sitcom, at the height of his comedy career. But now he barely gets by, relying on occasional nostalgic comedy shows and loans from his exasperated brother (Danny DeVito). During one routine, a heckler who’s recording the show provokes Jackie into throwing punches and he winds up serving time in jail. After his release, though, Jackie provides community service for the homeless where he meets a younger kindred soul, Harmony Schiltz (Leslie Mann). They’re both troubled with anger issues, and they bond despite their age difference. Complications ensue that involve Harmony, her rich but shady father (Harvey Keitel) and Jackie who wants to maintain more than a platonic friendship with her. Along the way, Jackie inspires not one but two hit viral videos; roasts a ninety-five-year-old comedy legend played by Cloris Leachman; delivers a shocking standup routine at his niece’s gay wedding; and more. The film takes up 2 hours with one vignette after another.

Here’s the problem. The Comedian asks us to accept that one, Robert De Niro in the title role is hysterically funny to pretty much everyone (well, those who aren’t uptight and too easily offended anyway). Two, sparks fly between him and Leslie Mann’s character. Overall I disliked the movie mainly because I couldn’t believe either of those premises. Yes, humor is subjective but I just couldn’t buy into the idea that fairly unoriginal insult comedian Jackie Burke had people of all ages guffawing and slapping their knees, year after year. Neither was there much chemistry between Harmony and sixty-something Jackie. On top of all that, a pregnancy subplot comes along near the end which further strains credulity. It’s too much for the audience to take.

Surprisingly, all kinds of stars like Edie Falco, Patti LuPone, Billy Crystal and Charles Grodin show up in the ensemble cast. There are also some admittedly memorable scenes, like Jackie’s first meeting with Leslie’s sleazy father and his scathing speech at his niece’s wedding. The acting is believable (according to the actors’ comments in a DVD featurette, they really enjoyed making the film and working with each other). But these bright spots can’t save the movie. If you want to see Robert De Niro play a comedian, you’re better off checking out 1982’s The King of Comedy instead of this unsuccessful dramedy.

The Comedian - DVD Review

MPAA Rating: R for crude sexual references and language throughout.
120 mins
: Taylor Hackford
Art Linson, Jeffrey Ross
Robert De Niro, Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito
: Comedy
Nobody's a bargain.
Memorable Movie Quote: "She lost me when she said, We like to think."
Theatrical Distributor:
Sony Pictures Classics
Official Site:
Release Date:
February 3, 2017
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 2, 2017
Synopsis: A look at the life of an aging insult comic named Jack Burke.

The Comedian - DVD Review


DVD Details:

Home Video Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Available on Blu-ray
- May 2, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
: French, English, Spanish
Discs: DVD Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region 1



  • None

Special Features:

  • Deleted Scenes – These five scenes don’t add much to the story and were understandably cut.
  • Backstage with The Comedian – Again, the director and the actors all speak highly of each other.
  • The Comedian at AFI Fest: Red Carpet and Q&A with Robert De Niro, Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito and Taylor Hackford – Way more background info than you care to know.

The Comedian - DVD Review

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