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Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Comedian (2016)

I watched this on a cross country flight, and it was very diversionary.  Not as good as you would expect given the cast of characters, and definitely not at all funny, despite the title.  The problem is that the movie never builds enough momentum, emotional or narrative, to get the viewer on its side. I don't mind when the plot doesn't make sense, but I need it to have some direction.
Robert De Niro plays Jackie Burke, an aging comic at a career impasse. Jackie is thin skinned and foul mouthed, and he doesn’t do such a good job of coping when, one night at a sparsely attended gig, he discovers that a couple of hecklers are razzing him not just for the hell of it, but to provide fodder for their vanity YouTube series. Jackie head-butts the guy in indignation and winds up battling an assault charge. During his community service (the battle didn’t go his way; he also ended up doing thirty days) he finds himself serving at a food kitchen alongside Mann’s Harmony, the troubled daughter of a one-time mobster played by Keitel. The two strike up a friendship that one desperately hopes against hope does not blossom into a romance, while Jackie juggles money troubles, opportunities for gigs, and other challenges in a way that suggest that he thrives on making fun of his self-defeat.  It is better than I am describing, with an excellent aging cast, but don't enter into it thinking you will be uplifted.

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