Can Robert De Niro pull off a stand-up comic? Academy Award-winning director Taylor Hackford (“Ray,” “An Officer and a Gentleman”) seems to think so. In his latest film, De Niro plays celebrity comic Jackie Burke, a hot-tempered stand-up who’s sentenced to 100 hours of community service after punching an audience member. There, he meets Harmony (Leslie Mann), an unlikely love interest and the daughter of one of his contemporaries, played by Harvey Keitel. The rest of the cast includes Danny DeVito, Cloris Leachman, Edie Falco and Charles Grodin.
“I saw the movie as a dark drama with some comedy,” Hackford told EW, “but then we tested it with an audience, and they really laughed hard. So better to call it a dark comedy with drama.”
IndieWire’s own Ben Travers says that “The Comedian” is a “film without a purpose” and describes it as a “a comedy about comedy that just isn’t funny.” As for the film’s star, Travers says that, “De Niro shows little sign of caring what drives our darkest funnymen to say what they say on stage, playing a brash comic (think Andrew Dice Clay) in a performance with less life than the bad grandpa who ‘thunderfucked’ his way through Florida.”
“The Comedian” hits theaters on January 13, 2017 from Sony Pictures Classics. Check out the trailer, courtesy of EW, below.