Last updated Tuesday, December 06, 2016 11:50 pm GMT+8

Tuesday November 29, 2016
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Leslie Mann and Robert de Niro in a production still for ‘The Comedian’. — AFP picLeslie Mann and Robert de Niro in a production still for ‘The Comedian’. — AFP picLOS ANGELES, Nov 29 — Robert De Niro won plenty of plaudits in 1983, playing a stand-up comedian at the start of his career in King of Comedy. Here he returns to the circuit as Jackie Burke, a veteran of the trade looking for something to lift his reputation in The Comedian.

Who’s in it and what’s it about?

Two-time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro has become just as well known for his comedic turns (Silver Linings Playbook, Analyse This) as more serious roles (The Godfather II, Heat.)

Here he plays Jackie Burke, famous for having made it big with a family-friendly show many years ago, but actually in his element when dealing out acerbic, often cruel humour. But after assaulting a persistent heckler he’s given a month in jail and 100 hours of community service.

It’s there in the soup kitchen that he meets the much younger Harmony (Leslie Mann, Knocked Up) and Jackie somehow manages to win her over. When one of his performances goes viral, his career soon shows signs of apparent improvement too.

There’s a big-name cast involved with Danny DeVito playing Jackie’s brother, for example, as well as Cloris Leachman of Raising Hope, and many are returning De Niro co-stars: Harvey Keitel (Mean Streets) as Harmony’s father, Lois Smith and Charles Grodin (both Midnight Run), Billy Crystal (Analyse This), Edie Falco (Copland), and Patty LuPone (City by the Sea) among them.

Who’s behind it?

Art Linson, who produced De Niro pictures The Untouchables, Heat and wrote less well received satire What Just Happened, worked with De Niro for years to bring The Comedian to screens.

Directing is Taylor Hackford of An Officer and a Gentleman, Ray, and Parker (which featured LuPone.)

Is it any good?

While Robert De Niro received 2016’s Hollywood Film Award for comedy, The Comedian as a whole hasn’t been received so favourably.

Screened at the AFI Fest in November, early reviews led to an aggregate Metacritic score of 46/100, a Rotten Tomatoes approval rating of 20 per cent, and an IMDb user score of 5/10.

When’s it out?

A limited US release on December 2 begins a long lead-in to 2017’s January 13 wider opening.

Trailers and social media

Official trailer: youtu.be/QJit_DU2XhM and facebook.com/TheComedianFilm/videos/281779055557229

Website: sonyclassics.com/thecomedian — AFP-Relaxnews

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