The King of Comedy (1983)

Struggling comic Rupert Pupkin (Robert DeNiro) is obsessed with becoming a comedy legend, and won’t take no for an answer. Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) is a Johnny Carson type talk show host, and he is the most popular comic on TV. So Rupert plants a lunatic fan in Jerry’s limo, and comes to his rescue as he is assaulted by this insane woman. Rupert uses this opportunity to convince Jerry to give him a shot. What he refuses to realize is that Jerry is fed up with nut cases like Rupert and just told him what he wanted to hear to get him off his back. Meanwhile Rupert starts honing his act in front of all of his adoring fans, who just happen to be made of cardboard or painted  on his wall. Once he realizes he’s been blown off, he starts going to Jerry’s office hoping to catch him in the hall and confront him, but Rupert is thwarted by office staff, but is actually given an opportunity to present an audition tape, and if they like him they agree to put him on the show.

To no one’s surprise, except maybe Rupert’s, he’s not up to snuff, and they pass, but they do encourage him to refine his craft at the local comedy clubs. Instead of taking the positive criticism well, he decides to take his girlfriend to Jerry’s vacation home and insert himself into Jerry’s holiday weekend. This obviously ends badly as Jerry tells Rupert how he really feels, and kicks him out post-haste. Now finally reaching his limit, Rupert hatches a dangerous and potentially deadly plan to force the hand of the show’s producers and get his shot on TV at any cost.

Alex’s Thoughts: I honestly hadn’t ever considered watching this movie until Tim suggested we review it.  I thought it sounded sort of awful. Wrong.  This might be my new favorite Robert De Niro performance!  Although the pacing of the movie is sort of slow, it still captivates you throughout the entire length of the film.  It is evident that Rupert is sort of crazy, and you aren’t sure to what lengths he will go in order to get on that show, and even when things culminate at the end you aren’t sure if he will make it on TV or not. I also really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the main characters, in that Rupert longs to be famous, while Jerry seems to be fed up with it and just wants to have some peace and quiet. Alex Rates This Movie 8/10

Tim’s Thoughts: If you are a fan of Scorsese and if it doesn’t have to be a mob movie, then you will be in for a treat.  Robert De Niro is awesome as usual, and while this is a little dated, Jerry Lewis is wonderful as a Johnny Carsonish asshole. I was surprised that I hadn’t seen this yet, and now that I have, I am better for it. King of Comedy is way ahead of its time, and if you remind yourself this movie is almost 30 years old, you are forced to realize that Scorsese might have had a crystal ball to see into the lunacy of today’s media driven culture. This is a fun watch, and I found myself never quite being sure how far De Niro would go to achieve his goals. Oh and the ending is totally up for debate if you ask me. So if anyone watches this and wants a good discussion, then hit me up, I am dying to talk about this some more. Tim Rates This Movie 9/10

“Better to be king for a night than schmuck for a lifetime.”

View the IMDB entry for this movie here, or add it to your Netflix queue

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