• R, 2 hr. 3 min.
  • Drama, Comedy
  • Directed By:    David Seltzer
  • In Theaters:    Sep 30, 1988 Wide
  • On DVD:    Jul 9, 2002
  • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Punchline Reviews

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Lucas M
Super Reviewer
May 27, 2011
David Seltzer, could written much better Punchline. Unfortunately, he don't did that. Still, continue being a interesting view of stand-up comedy world.
Apeneck F
Super Reviewer
July 19, 2007
Hanks is magnetic as a naturally gifted comic whose funny is the direct result of being a lousy human being. Somehow though he befriends I-want-to-be-more-than-just-a-housewife Fields and so they help each other in the toxic environment that is stand-up comedy. It held my interest, especially Hanks whose struggle against self-destruction is riveting.
AJ V
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2010
Two great actors, one boring, predictable, unfunny script about comedians who fall in love. This movie could have been way better.
Cindy I
Super Reviewer
½ July 6, 2009
Sally Field as a stand-up comic? I don't think so...
middleeasternfilms middleeasternfilms
Super Reviewer
½ May 7, 2008
Hey, Mr. Hanks! Remember this one? Of course you don't.
deano deano
Super Reviewer
½ May 28, 2007
This examination of the world of the stand-up comic centres on self-destructive but brilliant Tom Hanks and housewife Sally Field, who wants more out of life than kitchen drudgery. Although over sentimental when revealing Field's domestic life to us, the stand-up stuff is wonderful, showing us what it's really like trying to survive by making people laugh.
Byron B
Super Reviewer
August 18, 2008
I feel the same way about this movie as Apatow's Funny People. They deal with the same themes. I don't find this behind-the-scenes of stand up comedy to be very thought-provoking.
rodjeckrich rodjeckrich March 19, 2013
Is it a comedy or a drama? Is it a drama about comedians or a comedy with drama in it? I never could tell. Somewhere a younger Judd Apatow was taking notes.
Elise C ½ October 4, 2012
Funny (or not funny?) how Sally Field and Tom Hanks are the only stand up comics from that line up that were funny. Pretty good movie. The two main characters are likeable and it was better than I expected.
jam233 jam233 ½ March 12, 2010
55/100. David Seltzer?s direction doesn?t guide the film along as it should, he doesn't seem to know what direction to go in. . It jumps from comedy, to satire, heavy drama, romance and back again. Sally Fields and Tom Hanks try, but the material they are working with just doesn?t know what it wants to be. The romantic angle is completely out of place, and overall the bitterness of the film is a turn off. Even the stand up comedy scenes shown in the film that are supposed to be good, simply aren?t. The ending is not satisfying at all. It is a shame the stars didn't get better material, it could have worked so well in different hands.
Tasha C December 27, 2008
Funny. A story of two comedians who helped each other through the rough times in life by believing in each other when no one else would, which guided them on to their more fulfilled lives. A movie of perfect timing. Gosh! I needed that.
Suela Suela ½ March 2, 2008
This was a waonderful movie. Sally is just amazing (when isn't she?) Tom Hanks...classic! See it if you haven't. And shame on you.
lavenderfawn lavenderfawn ½ May 24, 2007
I odn't think this movie got the proper raves. The obvious chemistry between Sally and Tom must have sparked the thought of putting them together in 'Forrest gump"
Sean L ½ July 22, 2014
A moderately hard-edged drama about the private and public lives of comedians, with a special emphasis on the desperate lengths they'll go to for a laugh, or to get an edge on the competition. Sally Field is the focal figure, a mousey housewife who feels destined for greatness but can't locate her own voice, while Tom Hanks plays a big supporting role as a natural performer who's an irresponsible, selfish a-hole behind the scenes. It's an uneven picture that doesn't really click for a number of different reasons. Primary among them is this unspoken sense that a movie about comedians should be funny. Though the on-stage segments are indeed quite flat, big punchlines (if you'll forgive the pun) aren't really the point of this story. Less forgivable is the awkward, cloudy relationship between Hanks and Field that dominates the plot, and the constant shifts in tone from one scene to the next. I never got a real handle on where the film was going, what it wanted to be or to say. That writing jokes is hard, I guess? Sometimes the happiest guy in the spotlight is actually a poisonous, miserable bastard? A complicated, tentative take that's puzzling in its lack of a firm identity.
Matt H. Matt H. April 21, 2014
Punchline is a middling excuse for a movie. It may have helped Tom Hanks when he didn't have the star status he has now, but it is not any sort of gem or "great early movie" from hanks. In fact, I would go as far as to say I didn't really care for his performance in this movie; nor did I care for Fields', either.
Liv P ½ October 28, 2007
Was surprised how much I enjoyed this film. Hanks' character plays a very funny and successful stand-up comedian who has a not so funny and successful life off-stage. Sally Field plays a housewife who wants to fulfil her dreams of becoming a comedian but hasn't quite got the knack, but with the help of Hanks, becomes an overnight success.
Rabih H ½ September 25, 2013
OK, this is a really old movie, like almost before I was born old (OK, OK I was 5 when it came out...but it's OLD). It features the acting finesse of Sally Field and Tom Hanks, when they were SIGNIFICANTLY younger than they are now. I doubt it's a groundbreaker for either of their careers (the start of which predates 1988 by a few years for Hanks and a decade or two for Field), but in my opinion it grew both of their acting potential.

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.
filmlover1994 filmlover1994 July 22, 2013
My Favorite Comedy Film Is 1933's Duck Soup.
Robbie T March 26, 2013
To this day I contend that 'Punchline' is the best movie with teaming Sally Field and Tom Hanks. To this day I am in the minority. Again, it's a movie where the actors elevate the so-so material into something worth watching. Sally Field is especially fun to watch as she transforms from housewife to Vegas Comic.
Scott C July 5, 2007
Wow, Tom Hanks made so many bad movies early in his career.
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