Friday, February 3, 2017

The Comedian [2017]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB () (2 Stars)  AVClub (C-)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB () review
Los Angeles Times (J. Chang) review (G. Kenny) review
AVClub (J. Hassenger) review

The Comedian [2017] directed by Taylor Hackford, story and screenplay by Art Linson along with Jeff Ross, Richard LaGravenese and Lewis Friedman) is, on its surface, a rather ugly movie about a rather ugly guy.  Robert De Niro plays "Jackie Burke" an aging comedian whose peak (playing a Jackie Gleason [wikip] [IMDb]-like character, a cop named "Eddie," in some wildly popular sitcom of yesteryear) had long since past.  Now he's grinding out a living doing the stand-up comedy circuit in decent enough "boutique comedy clubs," though not exactly "Ceasar's Palace" ... And he's reasonably funny, though mostly crude, and not particularly happy with even his realization that his best years are long behind him.

Striking in this film is that Robert De Niro (Italian American) plays in this film a character who is repeatedly, over-and-over, identified as "Jewish."   Danny DeVito (another Italian American icon) plays his brother "Ben," who runs a New York Jewish Deli.  Even De Niro's love interest played by Leslie Mann, who has a more or less obviously mobbed-up father (played by Harvey Keitel), has a GERMANIC last name -- Schiltz.

What's going on here?  There's _almost certainly_ "a story" there ... "revenge of the Italian American actors?" (and if it is, then GOOD ON THEM ;-) ... But whether or not the original intent of the film-makers was to make ALL THESE CHARACTERS "Italian American," it's an ugly film.

Jackie's a pig.  Thanks be to God,  De Niro's NOT playing an "Italian American pig" but he's still playing a pig. 

But then, that may indeed be the point ... If the film feels ugly with the characters identified as both Jewish and Aryan, why would it have felt somehow "better" if the characters were Italian or Latino?

So honestly, there's an interesting "joke" being played here ... and in a good part it's on the audience itself.

In this regard, it's not an altogether bad film after all ;-).

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