By Jim Tortolano
If you are a fan or admirer of Robert DeNiro, you are familiar with many of the highlights of his long career. We all admired his performances in “Taxi,” “Godfather II” and “Cape Fear.” We also appreciated his versatility to do light comedy in “Analyze This” and “The Intern.”
Well, highs must be accompanied by lows, and one of them is “The Comedian,” a so-called drama-comedy about a former TV sitcom star trying to escape the shadow of the character he portrayed a generation before.
This R-rated embarrassment is the story of Jackie Burke, who is seeking to re-invent himself as an insult-oriented standup comic. His trigger temper lands him in a community service gig, where he meets Harmony Schlitz (Leslie Mann) and a May-December romance blooms.
There is little to recommend this film. The plot is paper-thin and the potty humor is cringe-worthy. A particularly egregious moment comes when Burke/DeNiro performs at a senior citizen community and leads them in a scatological version of “Making Whoopee.”
To be fair, it’s both nice and shocking to see some of comics doing small parts or cameos. Danny deVito plays DeNiro’s put-upon brother and there are appearances by J.J. Walker (remember “Dyno-mite!” from “Good Times”?) and Billy Crystal, both of whom look like they just ate six lunches that morning.
DeNiro has been making some odd (i.e. bad) choices in roles lately, such as “Dirty Grandpa” and this … thing. It makes the casual observer suspect that either Bob can’t stand to be out of the limelight or has some hellacious boat payments. Either way, it’s a little hard to take to see one of America’s finest actors doing the same kind of bathroom jokes you get from a toddler.
“The Comedian” is rated R for relentless bad language and some violence.
Categories: Arts & Leisure