Robert De Niro has never looked as though he'd make a convincing comedian. Not only did he prove this with his utterly convincing performance as the wannabe talk show host/stand-up Rupert Pupkin in Martin Scorsese's 1983 classic The King Of Comedy, but anyone who has ever seen his talk show appearances can attest that he sometimes lacks charisma. So it was an interesting choice when he was cast as the aging insult comic Jackie Burke for Taylor Hackford's The Comedian. The trailer for The Comedian will give us a better indication of whether Bobby D can convincingly portray the character, so it's lucky that it's now been released. You can check it out below.
I have to admit I laughed. But despite my small chortles, the sterling amount of talent that's surrounding Robert De Niro in The Comedian, and the actor's esteemed CV that highlights how he's able to sink his teeth into any role and make it his own, I'm still on the fence. That's mostly because of Robert De Niro's recent output, especially in the comedy genre, which has ranged from the diabolical (Dirty Grandpa), to the forgettable (The Intern), to the frankly bizarre (Last Vegas).
There are plenty of fine actors around to support Robert De Niro, though, as he'll get a helping hand from Leslie Mann (Knocked Up), Edie Falco (The Sopranos), Harvey Keitel (Mean Streets), Hannibal Buress (Broad City), Cloris Leachman (The Last Picture Show), Jim Norton (Louie), Charles Grodin (Midnight Run), Gilbert Gottfried (Aladdin), and Billy Crystal (Analyze This).
The Comedian revolves around Robert De Niro's Jackie Burke, who is an aging insult comic that has burnt a lot of bridges throughout his career. However, Jackie Burke suddenly finds inspiration and a new lease on life when he comes into contact and develops a burgeoning friendship with Harmony (Leslie Mann). Because of Harmony, Jackie Burke soon starts to write brand new material, which brings him to a new audience and turns the has-been into a viral comic.
Producer Art Linson previously worked on and developed the script for The Comedian alongside insult comic Jeff Ross, and Robert De Niro was signed up with the hope that it might re-team him with Martin Scorsese for the first time since 1995's Casino. However, this deal was never secured, and when Martin Scorsese dropped out Sean Penn signed up to direct, with Kristen Wiig attached in the Leslie Mann role.
But by May 2015 there had been another change in director , as Mike Newell (Four Weddings And A Funeral) was hired. But this didn't last long,and just two months later it was announced that Taylor Hackford would in fact direct. But they then hit casting problems as Kristen Wiig's replacement Jennifer Aniston dropped out, and she was finally replaced by Leslie Mann in January 2016.
We'll finally get to see if all this chopping and changing was worth it when The Comedian is given a limited release on December 2, before it extends wide on January 13, 2017.