(US/UK/China - 2016)
Directed by Taylor Hackford. Written by Art Linson, Jeff Ross, Richard LaGravenese and Lewis Friedman. Cast: Robert De Niro, Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito, Harvey Keitel, Edie Falco, Charles Grodin, Cloris Leachman, Patti Lupone, Lucy DeVito, Veronica Ferres, Lois Smith. (R, 120 mins)
It's pretty ballsy of Robert De Niro to attempt comedy in the same year he gave us the unspeakable DIRTY GRANDPA, but THE COMEDIAN (given a very limited Oscar-eligibility run in December 2016 but only now rolling out nationwide) is a project he and producer/co-writer Art Linson have had in various stages of development for nearly a decade. If there's a sense of familiarity to the end result, it's coming from a couple of different directions: De Niro already tackled stand-up comedy decades ago in Martin Scorsese's 1983 cult classic THE KING OF COMEDY, and the whole idea of following a working, schlepping stand-up has been seen over several seasons of Louis C.K.'s revered FX series LOUIE. Hell, there's even a scene of De Niro walking down the street and shaking hands with the door guy as he walks down into the entrance of the Comedy Cellar, almost straight out of LOUIE's opening credits. All that's missing is a revamped theme song that goes "Bobby, Bobby, Bobby, Bobbbbyyyyyy!"