Monday, July 18, 2011

King For a Night

Watched The King of Comedy last night and really wished I had seen it earlier - I absolutely loved it and would really like to see it again. While it's never really laugh-out-loud funny, I believe I was smiling throughout 90% of the film. Perhaps that's a little disturbing to those who are familiar with the plot, as it is extremely dark. But really, I chalk that up to how great the movie is. When you're able to root for someone like Rupert Pupkin, the filmmaker (in this case, the great Martin Scorsese) has done a hell of a job.

Given his performance in Meet the Parents, we all know that De Niro can be funny and get laughs - but if you really want a showcase of his range and talent, look no further than this film. It was also fun to see Bob play a character who is incredibly obnoxious and annoying. The way he incessantly prods at Jerry Lewis is slightly cringe-worthy and, at times, Larry David-esque.

But not only is Rupert an annoying character, he's also extremely demented, and in a way, reminded me a little of Travis Bickle. In fact, I would love to watch Taxi Driver and then King of Comedy back-to-back. And it's probably true that The King of Comedy is the more disturbing film of the two (and I don't mean that as a criticism in any way - to either film...Taxi Driver is my favorite Scorsese picture), especially when you consider the fact that there are real stalkers out there. I hate to only include celebrities into this, but I recall seeing a few articles about David Letterman's stalker. I mean, it's obvious that most celebrities would have them...not just talk-show hosts, but when you truly consider these people, it's apparent how dangerous and scary they can make life for their victim. Though I would say that Rupert seems more obsessed with himself than Jerry Langford, unlike his friend Masha (who's played brilliantly by Sandra Bernhard; I really enjoyed her performance in this one).

I was happy with the decision to only show Rupert's act at the end of the film - though, really, it was only way you could do it. And the act itself seemed apt for the character of Rupert - he clearly knew how to tell a joke, but the material wasn't very good...wasn't terrible either. I would say that it was respectful to who he is.

And the scene where he's watching himself on the TV in the bar is great. He has his moment, and even though it isn't deserved, I couldn't help but feel good for him. I was able to relate to that moment - no, I didn't kidnap anyone to get on television, but I did take a screenwriting class at college in '08. For our final project, we were writing full-length scripts and as we were working on them, we read and acted out each other's scripts in class. I wrote a Woody Allen-esque romantic comedy and when we read my script aloud I got a ton of laughs. It was one the greatest moments of my life to get laughs from people I didn't really know for something that I wrote.

But enough about me. Lastly I wanted to talk about celebrity. I love the scene when Jerry is walking through the street and the woman asks him to say something to her son on the pay phone - he refuses and she says that she hopes he gets cancer (read on imdb that Jerry Lewis claimed that that actually happened to him). It's amazing how quickly fans can turn on the people they claim to love. The concept of celebrity can be an awful experience for some. And really, I was able to sympathize more with celebrities with this film - something Judd Apatow failed at with Adam Sandler's character in Funny People.

And whether or not the ending is real or fantasized, it's a great satire of the world we currently live in.

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