Although the film is only moderately reviewed and was not as widely released and marketed as it could have been, I personally believe it's a real gem of a film! So prepare for a positive review of a practically unknown film that I recommend for most if not all...
Just to explain how I came upon this film; me and my best friend were just skipping through a bunch of movies he had on his hard-drive and we came upon this movie. We said we would watch the first few minutes just to get the idea and move on. 2 hours later we emerged! That's says something...
First of all the story is so deep on so many levels. It explores the inexplicably dark world of stand up comedy in the 80's, where it was hit for few and miss for almost all. It's a thankless art that only the most passionate and talented have even a chance at succeeding. It then has side stories and romances that are not typical for the time.
Then there is the acting... Sally Field is so funny and has such charm on stage that it's hard to keep your eyes off her. Hanks is so fantastically talented that his charm just shines through even the darkest moments of his performances (and there are some acting masterpieces spread throughout the film). John Goodman also puts forth some great work.
The film is somehow both positive and negative at the same time. You are at times both happy and sad for the characters. It's an odd feeling that is hard to capture in a review and it's hard to explain as there are few movies out there that do this today. This is why I think this was a highly misunderstood film. It's an odd sensation of good and bad that so well encapsulates the field of standup, and I agree it's hard to understand without experience in that field.
What I can say is this, if you have 2 hours to watch what I consider a great movie about a really interesting topic with two great actors playing off each other, this is a great watch. If you are looking for blockbusters, look elsewhere.