Saturday, November 28, 2009

The King Of Comedy (1982)

Collaborations like Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese are few and far between. Together, they’ve created some of the greatest films of all time, including Taxi Driver, Mean Streets, and Goodfellas. One of their great films, however, has somehow managed to slip under the radar, into the realm of near-obscurity. That film is ‘The King Of Comedy’.

In ‘The King of Comedy’, De Niro delivers a comical, yet convincing performance as the delusional yet ambitious Rupert Pumpkin, who has developed an unhealthy obsession with talk show celebrity Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) and desires, more than anything else, to be a successful stand-up comedian. In real life, Rupert is a very pathetic failure; he lives with his mother and his jokes are pretty mediocre, but he frequently escapes his undesirable reality in favor of a perfect fantasy world where everybody loves him and his awesome jokes.

Rupert constantly tries to secure a meeting with Langford, but is constantly blown-off by his secretary, who insists that his one-liners need more work. Furious, Rupert and his friend (Sandra Bernhard, another Langford stalker), kidnap Langford and hold him hostage until the show producers promise to give Pupkin a stand-up shot on the show.

In addition to being an excellent character study, The King Of Comedy is a very funny movie. As mentioned before, De Niro gives an incredibly good performance, and is probably the most funny here than he’s ever been, or ever will be. In all honesty, this is De Niro’s show, and if you like him, then you’ll be sure to love this movie.

That isn’t to say that Scorsese didn’t have a major role in the film’s success. His style is present, and he even makes a comical cameo appearance half-way through. Even though this may not be his most personal picture, it still has many themes familiar with his previous work, specifically Taxi Driver.
The ending of the film is particularly thought-provoking, as it is left open as to whether or not it’s real or fantasy. It’s all subjective as to which one it is. In my opinion, the ending is real, but someone else just might think otherwise. Overall, this is a great movie that deserves a lot more praise then it receives (Goodfellas has 204,819 votes on imdb, while King only has 17,420). I’d give it a 9/10.

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