The Comedian tells the story of an old insult comic who is trying to remain relevant in the new generation while avoiding the sitcom that made him famous. Robert De Niro played the lead character Jackie Burke, though audiences seemed to remember him only as “Eddie.”
However, the film focuses much of its attention on the relationship between Jackie and Harmony (Leslie Mann). These characters met at a homeless shelter as they were both serving court appointed community service hours after brushes with the law. Harmony is considerably younger than Jackie, but the pair seem to work very well with Harmony laughing at every joke Jackie dropped.
The rest of the film was just a series of situations that they tossed Jackie in to see what happened.
Honestly, I hated the relationship between Jackie and Harmony. When we were introduced to Harmony, she seemed to be a bat-shit crazy woman who I wouldn’t want to be within twenty miles of. Apparently, that attracted Jackie to her. Perhaps they were such rotten people that they only could be together.
The character of Jackie is so full of every possible stereotype of a stand up comedian that it is not even a little interesting. The biggest problem was that the film could have really taken a look at the aging comedian and made a complex story involving the connection between anger issues and comedy, but instead settles for a romcom.
Some of the scenes with the comedians involved in this movie were funny and I liked seeing Bill Crystal, Charles Grodin, Danny DeVito, and Brett Butler (although Jimmie Walker looked very sad). The best lines were delivered by the stand up comedians appearing at the comedy club that the film used several times as backdrop.
Sadly, De Niro is not a great comedic actor. His delivery is, at best, okay and his humor was more mean spirited than funny. There was a lot of crude humor throughout, some hitting and others falling dramatically flat. The side characters and extras always seemed to be laughing telling us that this was supposed to be funny. Unfortunately, I did not hear a lot of laughter coming from the theater audience.
There were so many scenes that were brushed through quickly for the sake of the romance. Jackie spent 30 days in prison in a blink of an eye. This could have helped the narrative, but it was nothing more than a way to cause De Niro to have community service.
The film appears to be wanting to have a commentary on the YouTube generation, but that message gets lost easily in the mess of a script. Jackie is an amalgam of stand up comedian stereotypes that does not come together in any kind of three dimensional character; instead we get Robert DeNiro telling dirty jokes. In what could have been something interesting, The Comedian lacks heart.