The King of Comedy Reviews
Watched this on 17/5/16
Perhaps an unsung masterpiece. I can't decide whether this or Casino is the best film of Scorsese-De Niro duo. The King of Comedy is at times disturbing satirical black comedy with a fantastic performance from De Niro, not one that you would usually expect from him. The film is really funny, especially towards the end and supporting actors Jerry Lewis and Sandra Bernhard do real good.
It's always interesting to see a film ahead of it's time. Whether it takes a couple of years or in this case more than 30. Predicting the obsessive nature of celebrity culture 'The King Of Comedy' is a dark comedic tale. One that's eerily real, one part hilarious the other disturbing.
Three years after 'Raging Bull' 'Scorsese' took on the black comedy (and later again with 'After Hours). 'The King of Comedy' is a largely forgotten film in his bibliography. But may be one of the most important. One that is only more relevant the years go by. 'Rupert Pupkin' (Robert De Niro) a huge fan of comedian and talk show host 'Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) and after a 'meeting' with him is convinced they are now best friends. It's not abundantly clear that 'Rupert' is a little off, his first encounter with 'Jerry' is that of an over-eager up and coming comedian. It's only when we see him back at his house talking to cardboard 'Jerry' and 'Liza Minnelli' that it's clear.
Even then there's something remarkably like-able about 'Rupert' even in the third act when some realisation hits home (well in a way). Eventually it becomes particularly clear that this man is obsessed with his hero 'Jerry Lewis' as his 'friend' 'Marsh' (Sandra Bernhard). Living in his own world their are some fantastically 'real' yet 'fake' scenes where we get to see inside the man's head. Going all out in his own head on how it would or will play out when 'Jerry' realises his talent. Initially trying to tell himself how humble he would be but quickly descends into self-indulgence. It's funny yet tragically sad - I was always pulling for him despite his ridiculous beliefs.
It consistently delivers the same tone throughout with neither the dark or comedic aspect fully taking over. Particularly with Pupkin's final and ultimately effective attempt at getting on his idols show in the form of a 10 minutes slot. Despite it being a stand-up routine it slowly descends into 'Pupkins' view on his bad upbringing. Is any of it true? who knows.
"Better to be a king for a night than a schmuck for a lifetime". He reaches his goal and is willing to live with the consequences. And there's some parity with Taxi Driver' - whether or not the 'end' (or as his act starts on TV) is real or a day-dream. I'm more incline (for both films) with the dream, an idealisation of what happens. The books, the early release and his own show. Living forever in his delusion, at least he's happy though.
'The King of Comedy' is part of the forgotten films of 'Scorsese' but isn't any less brilliant. A deft look at celebrity culture and the (sometimes) negative impact it can have on peoples view of their idols. And of all the films he's made this one has the most relevancy. This is something waiting to happen although it won't be as endearing or as funny.