In this 1982 film directed by Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, known for his roles in a few other Scorsese flicks, enters once again as middle aged-wannabe comedian Rupert Pupkin. The De Niro/Scorsese collaboration happens to be one of the greatest film teams of all-time, and easily one of my personal favorites. Together, they can do magical things, as portrayed for nearly 40 years, and beginning with Mean Streets. Their most recent picture together; Casino, made back in 1995 was a huge success, and just added to the greatness of both Bobby and Martin. Rekindling this team would simply be too dangerous, as De Niro is clearly past his prime, with Scorsese having moved on from the
‘The King of Comedy’ flew under the radar upon release, and is considered to be one of Scorsese’s lesser-known films, along with Boxcar Bertha. I do wonder how audiences could’ve missed this one, though, as it really is one of the duos best pieces of work. ‘The King of Comedy’ centers around a middle aged man, (De Niro) who goes by the name of Rupert Pupkin. He’s clearly not quite in touch with reality, or the word “no”. He lives with his mother, though still in his 30’s, and aspires to be the new “King of comedy” on co-star Jerry Lewis’ late night talk show-which Rupert is infatuated with throughout the film, as well as probably well before it.
I never heard any of Jerry’s stand-up comic material, nor had I ever witnessed him anywhere else on screen, with the exception of a few pictures here and there. I’d always heard he was a legend in both comedy, and for hosting one of the most popular talk shows ever, so it’s actually a shock I didn’t know anything else about the man until viewing this movie. Most people will probably find it hard to believe. De Niro and Lewis on screen together, was golden. They fed off each other like they’d been working side by side for years, which honestly kind of surprised me, as I didn’t have too high of hopes it’d work out.
The film opens with a rabid crowd outside of Jerry Lewis’ studio, all hoping to get his autograph, and maybe even hang out with him. Within the crowd stands one Rupert Pupkin. Pupkin has a “friend” who also happens to be obsessed with Lewis. The two have been big fans of his for years, and have sort of partnered in tracking him down. I was immediately reminded of De Niro’s role in ‘Fan’ after about ten minutes into this film, as he’s equally obsessive and out of touch with reality. He’s one of the few actors who can actually pull of such a role with prowess, as if he’s not even trying. ‘Cape Fear’ may be reminisced throughout, as well. If your searching for De Niro’s patented attitude, I suggest you prepare yourself for this one, as it’s much out of the ordinary. Eventually, Rupert hops into Jerry’s getaway car with ease, and progresses a discussion with Jerry about a possible career in comedy, specifically his talk show. You are immediately thrown into the mind of a sociopath, in which Scorsese does so well at portraying in De Niro’s character. Pupkin begins to bargain with Lewis, asking to have dinner with him at a later time. Much to Jerry’s demise, Rupert wants more than just a little get-together. What seems like a completely messed up motion picture at first sight can be cut into a masterpiece if the right viewers watch it. Those of which will pin-point the strong message portrayed, about modern day greed and just how far some will go in order to obtain such notoriety through any means necessary. Throughout the course of an hour and fifty minutes, Rupert tries nearly every trick in the book in order to grab the attention of Jerry Lewis. Some are very over-the-top, whilst others are just plain hysterical. Full fledged opinion here: I laughed at nearly every last scene in this film. It was that good, and that funny. I’m not talking about laughably cheesy scenes, bad acting or horribly directed interactions. I’m talking brilliant to the brim, amazingly timed one liners, PERFECT character spectrums and Bobby De Niro at his absolute finest. I’ll say no more about the scenes presented, as it would undoubtedly spoil it for those who haven’t yet seen it. Instead, I’ll leave the experience to be cherished first-hand.
De Niro portraying Pupkin is a perfect example of a man who simply wants to be liked, known and admired. Many of us will feel exactly what he’s feeling throughout, and perhaps be reminded that it isn’t actually so crazy to want what we cannot have. Okay, so he’s a creepy guy with absolutely no idea what right or wrong actually is; that I can see being very controversial to some viewers, including both Scorsese and De Niro, who have been cited as admitting they regret even producing this movie. When you’re this great of an actor, you are entitled to WHICHEVER character you desire. At least that’s how I see it. Props to Bobby for going against his usual schtick, showing once again how truly legendary he is. ‘The King of Comedy’ is a must see gem. If you consider yourself a fan of Scorsese, De Niro, or both, seeing this movie is a necessity.