Published on February 3rd, 2017 | by Neil Jordan0
Greetings & Salutations Fellow Movie Fanatics!
Welcome to the year 2017 …. Another year which promises to bring you HUGE blockbuster theatrical releases including long awaited sequels, groundbreaking independent films, and breakout performances from some of cinemas great veterans as well as its rookie newcomers!
Alright … alright … that’s your standard P.R. HYPE. Not that it’s entirely untrue but let’s face it, we all have a pretty good idea as to what’s in store for us this year am I right?
Today’s film is amongst 2016s ‘leftovers’ if you will. No that that’s a bad thing. Example … leftover pizza. I don’t know one individual who doesn’t like leftover pizza. You can think of this film as such.
The selection we present to you is the dramatic comedy ‘The Comedians’. The latest from film legend Robert De Niro. The film premiered at the AFI Fest on November 11th and will be released in theaters on February 3rd. Directed by Taylor Hackford (An Officer And A Gentleman, RAY) and written by Lewis Friedman, comedian Jeff Ross, Art Linson, and Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King) the film features an all star cast including Robert DeNiro, Leslie Mann, Harvey Keitel, Danny DeVito, Veronica Ferres, Patti LuPone, Edie Falco, Cloris Leachman, Charles Gordin, Jim Norton, Gilbert Gottfried, Jimmie Walker, Brett Butler, Lois Smith, Happy Anderson, Hannibal Buress, and an appearance by Billy Crystal.
DeNiro is Jack ‘Jackie’ Burke. A comedic legend best known for his iconic T.V. role decades before who has spent the years since then attempting to reinvent himself as an ‘insult’ comic. Despite rave performances and praise from fans and his fellow comedians, he is still frustrated that he cannot escape from the shadow of his television career and the mistakes he made during those years as a husband, father, and brother. During a performance at a comedy club on the outskirts of New York City he berates a husband and wife in the audience who are filming him for their internet show without his permission and later attacks the husband. At his court hearing, he is offered a plea deal but upon learning that part of the plea involves apologizing to the husband and wife he openly berates them in the courtroom and is sentenced to 30 days in jail plus community service. Once out of jail, Jackie begins his community service serving meals to the homeless while fine tuning his act at a local church. However, since he has not worked and has no money he pays a call upon his estranged brother whom he has not visited in ages to ask for a loan.
Jackie’s brother agrees but only if Jackie will appear at his niece’s wedding. Late one evening at the church he meets Harmony (Mann) whom is also serving community service for assault and battery. Shortly after, Harmony and Jackie make the rounds at some of the New York comedy clubs where Jackie is still ‘welcome’ after which Jackie proposes a trade of sorts, Harmony will be Jackie’s date to his niece’s wedding if Jackie will appear at the dinner to celebrate the birthday of Harmony’s father (Keitel) who is a huge fan of Jackie’s television persona. At the wedding, Jackie performed a variation of his stand-up act to the delight of his niece and her fiancé while simultaneously offending the majority of the other family members. A few days later, Jackie accompanies Harmony to her father’s birthday dinner only to become aggravated when Harmony’s father insists Jackie reenact his T.V. character’s. Jackie responds by sarcastically professing his intentions to sleep with Harmony. Without giving everything away, what follows is a re-awakening of sorts in which Jackie comes to terms with the inevitability that he will always be known for the one role he tries so desperately to get away from and realizes that if he wants to distances himself from it, he’s going to have to embrace the character.
Despite the all star cast and the fact there were indeed many laughs in the film, it was honestly a waste at the end. This could’ve been an amazing film but it was lacking in its story. The script just didn’t have the ‘heart’ to combine with the premise and the great performances given by the actors. It’s not that they didn’t try, the film just failed to measure up. The acting was great, the directing was good, and there were indeed a few laughs here and there …. it just didn’t have any life to it. Heaven forbid I criticize a DeNiro film, but I can’t give this one more than two out of five stars. I REALLY wanted to like the film, I just didn’t. If it shows up in your digital cable package, go ahead and give it a try. Rent it on iTunes even. Honestly though, I can’t see myself buying the movie.