The King of Comedy - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The King of Comedy Reviews

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May 10, 2018
Scorsese took some risks to turn a familiar concept that is actually impossible to work on screen, or at least that what I thought.
A lot of familiarity has been revealed at the first half of the third act of the movie along with some clichéd dialogue. Also, the pacing slowed down a bit at the very beginning of the third act. That being said, these flaws didn't bother me so much as the rest of the third act was brilliant!

That's by no means what I expected. I thought it's kinda light comedy, but it turned out to be a very subtle dark comedy. Still consider it a more light-hearted version of Taxi Driver! Very under-appreciated, though.

½ April 25, 2018
One of Scorsese's lesser-known gem's; The King of Comedy features powerhouse performances from Robert De Niro and Jerry Lewis, while also remaining though-provoking.
April 19, 2018
First half funny, second half creepy. Scorcese worst film I've seen.
April 16, 2018
The worst Scorsese film is worth the time. If it doesn't congeal into a satisfying whole, and this one doesn't, there are the performances, the camera work, the sound editing that knocks you out of your seat. Then there's the street scenes, loads of NYC candid 'You are there" shots just for fun. Oh and performances, De Niro of course and yep, Jerry Lewis. The most engrossing scenes are the fantasies, where Rupert Popkin, Pupkin, Pumpkin, Popknick, a running and funny gag where receptionists keep getting his name wrong, in these fantasy scenes Lewis shines, shows us some acting chops hitherto un-mined. Like I said worth the trip even though the outcome is puzzling.
April 7, 2018
"Verguenza ajena": this is a beautiful spanish term that everyone felt in his / her life, but there is no literal english translation unfortunately. It's when you feel ashamed for something you are witnessing, and not doing. This is the fuel that makes "The King of Comedy" run for the first part. Don't worry, it evolves too but I won't tell you how, just watch it because it is a really good movie! "Dog Day Afternoon" meets "Taxy Driver". Might not be as good as them, but it comes pretty close!
February 17, 2018
1001 movies to see before you die.
February 7, 2018
The King of Comedy is strange, but I guess that's what happens when you have Martin Scorsese directing a film with a more humorous tone. Robert De Niro is absolutely irritating as the persistent Rupert Pupkin, and yet it's his performance that drives the film forward. And who knew that Jerry Lewis could play the straight man in a comedic movie?
½ January 15, 2018
Puntaje Original: 7.5

Un notable trabajo narrativo, de dirección y producción; con una profunda, divertida y entrañable historia.
½ December 25, 2017


[Martin Scorsese]
October 25, 2017
Coming to the conclusion I don't like the early Scorcese/De Niro stuff... All a bit predictable, if prescient, and the acting outside of the leads was awful! Think it may be some time before I build up the courage for Taxi Driver.
½ October 15, 2017
In the cannon of Martin Scorsese films, this one stands apart. The film does feature Robert De Niro in the lead, is set in NYC, and includes many of Scorsese's regular behind the camera crew members, but in terms of visuals and drawing attention not the camera, "The King of Comedy" represents Scorsese at his most subdued. In this film, Robert De Niro creates one of his most fascinating characters with Rupert Pupkin, a obsessive fan of late night talkshow host Jerry Langford, a wickedly good Jerry Lewis. Pupkin stalks Langford after shows, sets up his own talkshow set in him parents' basement, and is self deluded enough to believe he has a real personal relationship with Langford. The story is a serviceable one for a comedy, but where Scorsese and the cast shine is in the darkness they bring to the comedy. Taken on it's own, the script is not necessarily that dark and in lesser hands might have been a light breezy comedy. De Niro makes Pupkin a likable character, even if it does appear that he must be mentally ill, and never plays him for broad or overt comedy, yet delivers what is at times a hilarious performance. Jerry Lewis gives what has to be the best performance of his career as Langford, a character that I'm certain allowed him to tap into his personal experience with obsessive fans, balancing his need to be kind to his public while also protecting his own privacy. It would be easy to write Langford off as the villain of the piece, the guy who continually shuns Puplkin and won't give him his big break, but Lewis brings a reality to the part where you feel bad for him and almost understand why he's a bit of a jerk when having to deal with crazed fans. The scene were Langford walks down a busy NYC street and politely greets fans, says canned witty retorts he's said a million times before, and in the end really just wants to get where he's going is pure cinematic magic. When the one woman at a phone booth begs him to speak to her nephew Morris and Langford politely says he's running late, how quickly she turns on him saying, "You should only get cancer! I hope you get cancer!" is hilarious and at the same time extremely sad for Langford, who has likely experienced this many times before. While Scorsese makes his visual presence not as pronounced in "The King of Comedy," his sensibilities still pervade this a dark comic classic.
½ September 23, 2017
A very interesting look at a very deranged and psycho guy. You got to hand it to him though, he was a seriously determined and ambitious son of a bitch and in the end, he got what he wanted. This is a very peculiar movie but a very interesting one at that. That being said, I don't think I'll be watching this movie again.

Overall, it was an interesting film with a great creepy performance by DeNiro.
September 22, 2017
In King of Comedy we see how much someone can become obsessed over a celebrity, either you want to have them or be them, in this amazing movie we see how much further a person is willing to go to see his dreams come true even if that involves kidnapping the person you admire so much. A great performance by De Niro in one of Scorsese?s most underrated films.
September 16, 2017
Brilliant , insightful " black comedy " with Jerry Lewis as the late nite tv icon and Robert deniro as the delusional would-be successor to the throne .
All great performances ...excellent screenplay . Here was Jerry's chance to win an oscar. But
September 14, 2017
It seems hard to find the satire without a laugh track; many of the quirks of these characters hit close to home. Though many will never admit it.
½ September 10, 2017
Much like Rupert Pupkin steadily working his way into Jerry Langford's life, The King of Comedy is making its way up my personal Scorsese list. Like a "funny" Taxi Driver, it's study of loneliness, fantasy, and celebrity is so acute and palpable, with De Niro giving one of his best performances in a career full of best performances. As unsettling as it is hilarious, and that final comedy's just everything.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2017

Since Jerry Lewis died on August 20, it seemed only fitting to rewatch the 35th Anniversary screening of THE KING OF COMEDY on Labor Day. Having been raised watching him on the Muscular Dystrophy Telethons every year on that holiday, I thought it fitting to honor him by revisiting what I feel is his greatest acting achievement.

Initially a box office bomb and largely ignored by critics, this prescient film directed by Martin Scorsese and written by the late Paul D. Zimmerman, a former NEWSWEEK film critic, is right up there with NETWORK and A FACE IN THE CROWD in predicting the onslaught of crazy or untalented people achieving fame and power. Sound familiar in this age of social media stars and Presidents? I also think it's Scorsese's best film and Robert DeNiro's greatest performance to date. It also brought us a blazing, unforgettable performance by Sandra Bernhard in her debut. Did I also mention it's one of my favorite, squirm-inducing, funcomfortable, funny/sad anti-comedy comedies of all time? Since I wasn't in the game of writing movie reviews when it was first released, I thought it appropriate to take a stab at it now.

DeNiro plays Rupert Pupkin, an aspiring standup comic who lives with his mother and makes money as a messenger in NYC. He idolizes Jerry Langford (Lewis), a Johnny Carson-esque late night talk show host, and dreams of a slot on his show as a ticket to instant stardom. God forbid Rupert should pay his dues and go to every open mic night available. Instead, he practices his appearances on the show in his basement, complete with cardboard cutouts of Langford and guest Liza Minnelli. Every now and then, his daydreams get interrupted by the voice of his mother (a hilarious cameo by Scorsese's own mother), instantly reminding us of Rupert's place in the world. We don't know yet if Rupert is talented or not, in fact we won't know until a scene near the end, but his corner-cutting entitlement predated so many Hiltons, Kardashians and Trumps.

When we first meet Rupert, he's outside Langford's studio along with a throng of autograph hounds. When Jerry enters his limo, a crazed fan jumps in after him. That would be Masha (Bernhard). Langford, adept at clocking a stalker when he sees one, immediately gets out and comes face to face with Rupert. From inside the limo, the frame freezes on Masha's hands pressing against the window, aching to make contact with Jerry. Ray Charles' "Come Rain Or Come Shine" plays on the soundtrack: "I'm gonna love you, like nobody's loved you/
Come rain or come shine" - so eery in this context. It's such an indelible image of obsession and one in which I knew we were in for a masterful filmgoing experience.

Seizing the moment, Rupert parts the crowd, shepherds Jerry to safety and then climbs into the limo himself. He uses him time just long enough to convince Jerry to listen to a tape of his material. Never mind that he hasn't recorded it yet, Rupert takes Jerry's condescending brush-off and uses it as invitation to much more subversive actions.

Scene after scene shows Rupert trying to infiltrate Jerry's offices, but he comes across the expert deflection of a knowing receptionist or Cathy Long (Shelley Hack in a cunning, astute performance), Jerry's Development Rep. Masha also schemes to get a love letter to Jerry, but also gets the cold shoulder. In one amazing sequence, Masha chases Jerry down the street, but gets turned away at his revolving office door. Eventually, Rupert and Masha team up to kidnap Jerry, allowing Rupert to appear on his show and for Masha to have some personal time with her prey.

What works so well in this fairly straightforward, simple story is the tone. It's meant to keep you in a constant state of queasiness. Scorsese, with his cinematographer Fred Schuler, locks the camera down most of the time so that we're forced to sit still with our main characters...the better to make you squirm. Things only get zippy when we're out in the New York streets. Lewis himself directed one of those scenes in which we watch Jerry walk to work. With calls out from construction workers and cab drivers, Jerry has a little spring in his step. A woman at a phone booth stops him to praise him. Jerry thanks her but demures when she asks him to talk to her nephew on the other end of the line. Turning on him instantly, she yells, "You should only get cancer! I hope you get cancer!" And that, in a nutshell, is the brilliance of this film. The journey from top to bottom, and vice versa, can be very short.

At one point, Rupert reunites with his high school crush Rita (Diahnne Abbott). She sees him for what he is, but can't resist an offer to go to Jerry's with him for the weekend. Unbeknownst to her, they weren't invited. Jerry's dead-inside reaction to this home invasion speaks volumes. In scene after scene, Lewis plays against type. Gone is the wacky clown, replaced by years of knowledge of the exact toll celebrity can have on a person. It's an astonishing, scary, unforgettable performance. A prisoner of his own fame, Jerry can do nothing but be numb to the atrocities on display.

Rupert is a delusional, entitled, lazy dreamer. He was decades ahead of social media stars who made fortunes by posting a picture of their breakfasts. DeNiro has never given a performance that's anything like this. He's constantly gesticulating and unwilling to take no for an answer. He's dangerous. Who would have imagined that 35 years later, a Rupert would become the leader of the free world?

When we finally get to see Rupert's act, done in one incredible single take, it's mediocre at best. Sometimes mediocrity is celebrated. Oh what the hell am I saying? This country has a history of putting mediocrity on a pedestal. It explains Twenty One Pilots.

I look at THE KING OF COMEDY as TAXI DRIVER's funnier but just-as-ugly little brother. Two delusional men find fame by committing crimes. They both go after ideal but disinterested women. One does it to save an innocent soul while the other is completely self-serving. On second thought, which one is the darker film?

There's too much to unpack, but I want to point out some details that get me every time:

-Rupert eyes the ceiling of Jerry's waiting room. It makes the weary receptionist look up. He notices and then asks her, "Is that cork?" Probably the best use of insipid small talk in a film since NASHVILLE.
-Masha's entire head shaking wildly when she goes on one of her tirades
-Rupert standing in front of a giant audience photo as he fantasizes about his big debut
-The guy imitating Rupert behind his back, sending a signal to Rita that she's having dinner with a schmuck.
-The never-ending mispronunciation of Rupert's last name (Pipkin, Pumpkin, Pupnik)
-Members of The Clash in the scene where Masha yells at everyone, calling them "street trash"
-Masha's reprise of "Come Rain Or Come Shine". Funny how Bernhard's career after this film always included a little comedy and a little singing.
-Masha casually tossing the wine glass away.
-Masha clearing the candlelit table as everything comes crashing down. They threw in cat noises just to make it even funnier.
-Masha's one-sided conversation with Jerry, telling him, "I want to be black" and then doing an adorable yet frightening Tina Turner imitation.
-Rupert asking Cathy, "Are you speaking for Jerry?" Makes my skin crawl.
-Editor Thelma Schoonmaker, a legend, smash cutting to the Jerry Langford show logo right after Masha strips down to her underwear and says that she and Jerry are gonna have "Good old-fashioned, all-American fun!"
-Masha hauntingly blowing a kiss to Jerry. She's crazy scary.
-Rita proves she's just as susceptible to the glow of fame when she steals a little box from Jerry's house. She's supposed to be the saint of the story, yet even she can be bought.
-The announcer cheerily chimes, "Rupert Pupkin, everybody! Rupert Pupkin!"
-The line: "Better to be king for a night than schmuck for a lifetime."

I kept thinking about NETWORK and A FACE IN THE CROWD when watching THE KING OF COMEDY this time. How ahead of their time these films were, and what would a prescient film made today look like? Would we be predicting the end of fame? The end of mediocrity? A return to hard work and talent? If only.
September 3, 2017
An utterly unique and remarkably prescient exploration of our culture's obsession with celebrity. Particularly striking is the film's biting disclosure of a certain kind of ideation: The way many of us fantasize about the fruits of success but never the necessary labor. Pupkin-a name like a dog, like a child, like an addled dreamer-imagines all the congratulations that will come should he just get his big break, but we never see him imagining or even enjoying the work itself. Said otherwise, he doesn't want to be a comedian; he just wants to be a king.
½ August 25, 2017
The film attacks an unique subject matter especially for its time and it was executed in an even more brilliant way. Attacking fame and celebrities with a sort of awkward and slightly dark sense of humor. It is the only Scorsese film that doesn't feel like a Scorsese film and arguably one of DeNiro's best performances although it was overlooked at its time. Jerry Lewis was perfectly casted and gives the movie some seasoning to top it off as another Scorsese masterpiece.
½ August 24, 2017
The jumping chronology is a bit jarring; I didn't need to know how things turn out at the beginning, it robs it of tension and dread. It's an interesting look into the rise of a delusional ladder climber, who wants to get to the top, by any means.
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