The King of Comedy Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ May 16, 2015
This movie came straight outta left field really, after two mean thrillers and hard hitting biographical, a black comedy felt like an odd turn. Scorsese was still kinda finding his feet at this point, almost at a fork in his career in what to do, his following two movies after this ('After Hours' and 'The Colour of Money') confirms this. From very raw emotional adult films, then branching out into a comedy, even with De Niro, seemed brave. Scorsese could of easily slipped into the mainstream realms at this time. 'After Hours' was another quirky black comedy, but the type of comedy that you could easily see Tom Hanks leading, whilst 'The Colour of Money' was most definitely a mainstream movie with the man of the moment Tom Cruise.

Luckily this didn't happen and we have a string of adult targeted movies to enjoy...mainly mobster movies. Nevertheless looking back its cool to see these more unique Scorsese projects, how he handled them and how or if his now infamous trademarks and style are still visible. First up, its a Scorsese movie, De Niro? check, New York setting? check, plot about a wacko loner? check...annnnd we're done.

The film feels like an extension of Scorsese's 1976 film 'Taxi Driver' to be honest, naturally this is down to the simple fact that De Niro plays another lonely weirdo who inadvertently becomes a hero of sorts by the end. You could almost call this a remake really, just a more light-hearted version. We follow the celebrity worshipping Rupert Pupkin (great name) as he tries his utmost to get on Jerry Langford's (Jerry Lewis) talk show with his stand-up act. This takes up pretty much the entire film until an encounter with Langford at his home shows Pupkin he has no chance of getting on the show. The ever resourceful Rupert doesn't let this fade him though as he hatches a plan to kidnap Langford in order to demand his act be shown on the talk show. At the same time Pupkin has the help of another fellow celebrity worshipper/stalker in Masha (Sandra Bernhard).

I can't help but think De Niro is gonna explode in a tidal wave of blood soaked violence when I watch this movie. Its probably down to his previous performances and roles (and the era when this was made), but its like you're just waiting for his character to pop and kick someones head in. Its really quite unnerving at times, that's how good De Niro is, the man is a twitching time bomb ready to blow. I love watching De Niro in this movie, its almost hypnotising with his little quirks, his little nuances, everything we now know about the man but ramped up to ten.

I could probably go on record saying this is one of De Niro's best performances. Not only is he uncomfortable to watch with his sleazy used car salesman-esque appearance complete with a little annoying tash, but he's both funny and kinda lovable at the same time. His character is always very polite and well mannered to everyone he meets, he's smart, gracious, keen and accepting of criticism to a degree. I adore how he oozes around the top brass in the networks main building in NY, still very polite and pleasant but also such a slippery, slimy, creep, trying his best to talk his way into a meeting with the mighty Langford. Its amusing because you know this guy probably doesn't really have much talent but he clearly thinks he does. He's clearly overly ambitious and overly confident in himself which is funny but at the same time not exactly a bad thing, that's why you kinda love the guy for persevering, he's got balls but no sense of tact.

The little moments where we see Pupkin pretending to be on the show with Langford, in conversation with him either professionally or in private and setting up his own overblown introductions for the show etc...are priceless. The funniest thing is he's doing this at his home with his mother in the next room type of thing, a typical middle aged man still living at home with him mum scenario. These brief scenes also show us how crazy Pupkin is, his room (or basement) is decorated like a real talk show studio with a big picture of an audience on one wall, mock-ups of Langford he can talk to etc...This shows us his potential scary side and makes you wonder if he will go hyper nuts at some point.

The other cast members are all very good in their roles too. Jerry Lewis really nails that old fashioned 70's (I'm guessing) talk show host look with the big rimmed glasses, dapper suits, slick hair and smoking whilst on the air. He really does look like one of your old relations in a family photo from back in the late 70's early 80's perhaps. Not only that but you really feel his frustration and anger as he puts up with the constant unwanted attention and pestering from fans and nutjobs. The scene where he confronts Pupkin at his private home is probably his strongest. I was also really impressed with Bernhard who gives us an excellently crazy yet sexy stalker. I don't much about Bernhard outside of the TV show 'Roseanne' and her role in the Bruce Willis turd 'Hudson Hawk', but towards the end of this film she really gives it her all. The sequence with her character having a romantic dinner with the kidnapped Langford (duct taped to a chair) is amusing, sexy and obviously disturbing. All three being perfect traits of Bernhard.

Of course the twist in the film is that Pupkin's stand-up routine is successful, he doesn't end up killing anyone or himself in a blaze of glory and he actually manages to achieve what he always wanted. On one hand that might seem anti-climatic but on the other hand the more predictable ending of him getting killed along with his idol would be errmm...predictable. For me this ending is just right, it could of easily been a subdued finale but I think Pupkin was too likable, as was Masha, neither of them really do anything unlikable throughout. In the end I was really happy Pupkin manages to succeed with his dream, sure he's a bit twisted and unhinged in a strangely calm way (he did kidnap someone after all), but he's still a really nice guy at the end of the day.

I like this film very much, I think its a cute yet slightly off-kilter story which shows both a gutsy win for the little guy and the heartache a famous personality may have to deal with. But at no point is it ever deadly serious to the point of being a thriller, the crime committed is serious but its all done in a very tame almost apologetic way. Its a breath of fresh air to see an early performance by De Niro where he isn't a psychopath for the mob or just out of his mind. This movie was a bomb on release and has been largely forgotten about ever since, but I wholeheartedly recommend it.
Super Reviewer
June 15, 2014
Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy is a highly entertaining drama that has enough comedic moments to make this film entertaining and memorable. The film's choice of actors is great as well, and Robert De Niro and Sandra Bernhard have great chemistry together, and overall the film is a highly memorable picture that is entertaining due to the fact that it possesses a winning formula that is brought to life by Scorsese's great direction. The King of Comedy is an engaging picture that boasts memorable performances, a great story, and brilliant direction to really make the film standout. I really enjoyed the movie, and felt it was another standout feature from Martin Scorsese, who is one of cinema's finest directors. With this film, being a slight change of pace, as Scorsese would be more at ease with the crime, and gangster genres, it's great to see him movie in the comedy genre, and he is able to pull it off because he is a phenomenal filmmaker and storyteller. The way Scorsese crafts a film is unmatched by any other director, he is able to get the simplest ideas and make them into a terrific, well layered picture that delivers some truly engaging entertainment. Scorsese is one of my favorite directors, and I've seen a lot of his movies, The King of Comedy would rank among his best films, a film that is funny, dramatic, thrilling from start to finish and is sure to appeal to fans of the director. With that being said, Whenever Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese would make cinematic gold. If you enjoy Martin Scorsese's work, then you're surely going to love this film. The King of Comedy successfully mixes comedic elements with drama, and in turn, it delivers one of the most memorable films of Martin Scorsese's career.
Super Reviewer
½ February 13, 2013
Rupert Pupkin: Better to be king for a night than schmuck for a lifetime.

"It's no laughing matter."

The King of Comedy has to be one of Martin Scorsese's most underrated films and also one of De Niro's most underrated performances. This film, like many have said, has a style that is similar to Taxi Driver, and since it's again a Martin Scorsese-Robert De Niro film, it's easy to lose this one in the shuffle. Although being similar to Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy definitely has a life of its own. There's so much to like about this movie.

Rupert Pupkin weasels his way into talk show host Jerry Langford's limo after his show. He pleads with Jerry to let him go on the show and that he's a stand up comedian, but Jerry explains to him that he has to start at the bottom. Trying to get rid of him, he tells him to call his office and they'll set something up. Rupert thinks this is his shot at the big time, but when he calls the office, he is ignored. So he goes into the office, but slowly begins to realize that he's getting the brush off.

This is a great film about the worship of the celebrities and also the desire to become a celebrity. This is even more relevant today then it was when the film was made. Also, I loved how insightful the writing of Rupert's stand up comedy was to get a little background into his early childhood and see why he seeks the attention of the world. I believe this is something that is glanced over when I read other reviews that say there isn't enough character development of Rupert's character. His stand up comedy it tells it all, as he says early in movie, in one of his practice/fake meeting with Jerry scenes, that he takes all the screwed up stuff from his life and makes it comedy.

The King of Comedy is an excellent film from Martin Scorsese. Robert De Niro is outstanding as the delusional and tragic figure of Rupert Pupkin, and Jerry Lewis is a surprise as Jerry Langford. He's terrific in both the real life scenes and Rupert's delusional fantasies. This isn't a film to be missed. It may not be talked with Goodfellas, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, or even Casino, but this is every bit a great Scorsese/De Niro collaboration.
Super Reviewer
December 24, 2011
A terrific mix of Scorsese/DeNiro/Lewis comedy and art.
Super Reviewer
½ October 28, 2011
This small masterpiece by Martin Scorsese features yet another great performance by Robert DeNiro.
Super Reviewer
November 29, 2011
Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis star in Martin Scorsese's darkly comedic satire about media obsession, and the lenths people will go to in order to become famous.

Rupert Pumpkin (Robert De Niro) is an aspiring stand-up comedian with ambitions that outweigh his talent. He sees television talk show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) as his idol, and is willing to do anything, including kidnapping in order to get Langford to give him his big chance to become the star he's always seen him self as being.

Lewis and De Niro give some really good performances in their respective roles, and it is a joy to see them playing off one another. Lewis seems really grounded and downplays his schtick tremendously, but I think that is all for the best. De Niro is wonderful at playing these desperate, pathetic types who you feel bad for, even though you maybe shouldn't. Sandra Bernhard is terrifically nuts as an obsessed Langford fan and stalker who agrees to help Rupert with his scheme. She's really unhinged and sometimes grating, but it is quite funny and a job well done.

In a lot of ways, this really felt like Taxi Driver, but, uh, with jokes, and not quite as dark and gritty. When I first heard about this film and its plot, I really was expecting it to be quite dark, gritty, and intense, especially with Scorsese at the helm. Surprisingly though, the film is only PG, but it still manages to get its point across without being too extreme. I believe there's probably some sort of word for being able to pull off a feat like this without things coming off as watered down, but I can't think of it right now. Maybe it's nuance, perhaps genius.

This is another one of Scorsese's films that is quite terrific and well made, yet unfortunately more overlooked and underappreciated than it deserves. It's not a brilliant masterpiece or anything, but it's definitely quite solid and enjoyable (though not for all tastes), and fits in perfectly with Marty's oeuvre.

If at this point, you like what I've had to say, then you should definitely go give it a watch.
Super Reviewer
February 1, 2011
It's been a while since I saw it. But this is a very good movie. Robert De Niro is just brilliant in this. I really wanna see it again.
Super Reviewer
November 19, 2009
An extremely well done film from Martin Scorsese that brings together comedy and horror quite nicely. Robert De Niro gave one of his best performances as Rupert Pupkin, the talk show host that never was. It is a highly suspenseful and shocking film that should be essential to any fan of Scorsese or De Niro.
Super Reviewer
½ December 6, 2007
its difficult to even describe this film other than to simply say, its brilliant. its hilarious at moments, and disturbing at others. deniro gives us one of the best performances of his stellar career, and really all of the other actors delivered as well. the film feels like a coen bros. style black comedy, only scorsese made this film before the coens even started working. the execution of the film is perfect. a true masterpiece.
Super Reviewer
½ January 25, 2008
De Niro is amazing, one of his best performances. I watched this movie again and it was like watching for the first time. I honestly think this is one of Scorsese's best. Not only is De Niro amazing, but also what surprised me is how amazing Jerry Lewis is in this film. It seems like every performance in this film is extremely naturalistic and that just shows how great Scorsese is with actors. There is also the scene stealing Sandra Bernhard who really astounds ("I feel like Tina Turner!!" is one of my favorite lines of the movie.) There is also the mixture of reality and the surreal which is done perfectly. The scene where he is standing in front of the black and white picture of everyone laughing is a work of art. One of the best of the black comedies and worth another watch if you haven't seen it in a while.
Super Reviewer
½ November 14, 2006
Secretary: Is Mr. Langford expecting you?
Rupert Pupkin: Yes, I don't think he is.

A film that manages to be much more disturbing than one might think. It features good performances and provides some satirical looks at the celebrity obsessed culture. Mainly though, this is a very awkward film that gives you an interesting look at a desperate man that takes things a bit too far.

Rupert Pupkin: Why not me? Why not? A guy can get anything he wants as long as he pays the price. What's wrong with that? Stranger things have happened.

Robert De Niro teams up again with director Martin Scorsese, staring this time as Rupert Pupkin, a wannabe stand-up comedian. Rupert's idol is talk show host Jerry Langford, played by Jerry Lewis. Rupert manages to have a conversation with Jerry, who tells him to give him a call some time, in an effort to get rid of Rupert. This doesn't work. Rupert begins to try with all his might to get a meeting with Rupert, get him to listen to his material, and become a good friend of his. Rupert tries to impress a woman through these efforts. He even brings another Jerry fan, played by Sandra Bernhard, into the mix. During all this, we are treated to a number of fantasy sequences in which Rupert has become successful and is in fact a good friend of Jerry's. There is no need to spoil what ends up happening, but things do take some radical turns.

As mentioned, I found this movie to be very creepy and dark (especially whenever Bernhard was on screen). De Niro does a great job with this character, a lonely man, who may or may not have the talent he needs, but is clearly standing in the same weird-man line that Travis Bickle is in. Rupert is made more interesting by his basic manner. He is a polite individual, well spoken and dressed, looking for a way in.

Jerry Lewis deserves a lot of credit here for being an amazing straight man in this movie. The way he puts up with a lot of the events that unfold in this movie is portrayed wonderfully through his facial expressions and reactions.

This was a strange picture, but not one I regret watching. The Scorsese/De Niro team does manage to remain solid.

Rupert Pupkin: I'm gonna work 50 times harder, and I'm gonna be 50 times more famous than you.
Jerry Langford: Then you're gonna have idiots like you plaguing your life!
Super Reviewer
½ November 1, 2007
this may be de niro's greatest performance; funny, creepy and criminally underrated. it's also the only jerry lewis film i can stand. it's like a black comedy version of taxi driver. it may not be bloody but it's nearly as tough to watch
Super Reviewer
½ June 19, 2009
As a huge fan of De Niro, this is one I always wanted to see but hadn't until now. No surprise to me here: What a beautiful movie. I'm not a big Scorsese fan, as you may know by reading my past comments about his work. Have to say, however, this is a masterful directing effort that draws outstanding performances out of all the actors involved. And speaking of folks for whom I'm not planning to join a fan club, Sandra Bernhard . . . she's a problem. But she's wonderful here.; I kid you not. But I've saved the best for last. I think I actually might have sensed this before, but because Jerry Lewis often plays to type, it's very difficult to determine whether he has innate ability. I've now decided the question -- at least for me myself. Jerry Lewis is a very good actor. This may be the best work he's ever done. Astonishing. Maybe this is the one that convinced the French to name him the greatest American actor of all time. See this just for the great ensemble effort. I really do have to give Martin Scorsese kudos for this work. I never thought I'd say that about him. Thinking about it as I'm typing this, I'm struck by the fact that one of the great emotional beauties of this film is that it reads pretty much like classic tragedy from the beginning. Rupert Pupkin is destined to fail. You know it by every single one of the signposts along the way. Flaw after flaw after pathetic flaw. But he doesn't fail. Amazingly, he succeeds; he is a winner. It's tragedy turned on its head. Actually, in the end, this truly is classic comedy.
Super Reviewer
½ August 20, 2007
Squirm inducing satire on the distorted world of fame and those who seek it. Skewers the forced civility celebrities must present to their public and ably illustrates the old adage, ' no publicity is bad publicity'.
Super Reviewer
July 3, 2008
Dark satire of our celebrity obsessed culture, the desperate need for fame and the lengths at which people are driven to achieve that fame. One of Scorsese's most overlooked films. A classic.
Super Reviewer
March 12, 2008
Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese team up yet again in this 1983 satire about the appeal of celebrity that seems to have been prophetic in what the entertainment industry has become a quarter of a century later. De Niro's Rupert Pupkin almost seems like a cousin to his other New York resident Travis Bickle- loners who live within an alternate reality inside their own heads. Jerry Lewis and Sanra Bernhard are both terrific in their roles as "Carsonesque" talk show host Jerry Langford and his stalker Masha respectivly. Overall a great flick.
Super Reviewer
May 5, 2007
This movie makes me SOOO uncomfortable.

A great companion piece to Network.
Super Reviewer
½ October 2, 2007
It's Robert De Niro and the great Jerry Lewis in one of Martin Scorsese's greatest comedy picture ever teaming with one of the greats in a riveting performance.
Super Reviewer
½ April 24, 2007
A blackest of the black comedy and fascinating study of obsession. It takes a while to get going, but De Niro is magnificent as you'd expect, and Jerry Lewis is a revelation. A powerful and funny commentary on the power of the media and "cult of personality".
Super Reviewer
½ October 25, 2006
One of the few comedies DeNiro has pulled off.
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