There are few more illustrious names than Robert De Niro in cinema and while the 73-year old is working harder than anyone of his vintage in the industry, The Godfather Part II star appears to have once again missed with the mark with his latest effort courtesy of The Comedian. Prior to opening this week starting January in the US, the Cinelou Films production directed by Taylor Hackford lacks punch and direction. At least, according to the critics.
Playing ageing comic Jackie Burke, the stand-up is trying to rekindle his time on stage. And while De Niro gives the material his best effort, he is easily trumped by those that do the craft for a living. Such as Billy Crystal, Charles Grodin and Brett Butler. Who all appear in short cameos. The foursome of Art Linson, Jeff Ross, Richard LaGravenese,and Lewis Friedman all had a hand in the screenplay and the convoluted narrative arrived as a consequence.
Quality Ensemble Can't Overcome Serious Flaws
Despite the big names like Danny DeVito, Harvey Keitel, Leslie Mann and Edie Falco, Rolling Stone writer Peter Travers could only muster a rating of 2/4 stars for the feature. All while describing it as a lazy and crass effort by all involved.
"The movie hits its nadir at a Florida retirement home where Jackie entertains the seniors by changing the old standard, 'Makin' Whoopie' to 'Makin' Poopie,' letting bathroom jokes fly along with gags about geezer sex," recounts Travers. "Whatever shard of real entertainment the film had in its earlier moments goes out the window with that one, leaving The Comedian down for the count. It plays like an opportunity missed."
Geoff Berkshire from Variety is not any kinder to the flick. Stating that there are superior versions of the same subject matter right now on the small screen.
"Several films, from Punchline to Funny People (which also featured Mann), have mined the lives of stand-up comedians for inherent pathos with more credibility and insight," starts the critic, "While recent TV series including Louie and BoJack Horseman have created entire worlds for multi-layered characters struggling to stay relevant at their craft. Even with a bona fide icon at its center, The Comedian doesn’t dig deep enough to add anything substantial to the subgenre."
Is Bobby D Still In A Dirty Grandpa-Sized Funk?
Grossing over $99m for a film that was universally panned perhaps says more about us, the audience, than anything else. But it is hard to escape the fact that De Niro's decision to partake in the disaster that was Dirty Grandpa alongside Zac Efron outlined that his standards have dropped to the point where he will virtually accept any role put in front of him.
Sitting on a rating of 11% with Rotten Tomatoes, critics went as far to say they were physically ill and offended by what they saw in that 102-minute "comedy." His latest effort is clearly not Dirty Grandpa bad, yet it would be great to remind the younger generation what a talent he actually is.