Rupert (Robert De Niro) has a desire of becoming a famous comedian. Rupert’s desire of becoming famous is so large that it’s an obsession for him. He gets an idea on how his focus can become a reality and begins to track down Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) who is the host of a famous late-night talk show on TV. Rupert finds Jerry after one of his live shows and asks him personally if he can perform with him on his show. After being rejected, Rupert refuses to give up and begins to stalk Jerry, not taking no for an answer. Rupert is full of force, wits and determination.
The film setup is brilliant. We gain an understanding rather quickly of Rupert’s intentions when he first meets Jerry. At first glance, Rupert seems to have Jerry’s security and well-being at interest, but it’s not long until we learn Rupert’s true reasoning for bumping into Jerry. We also know that Rupert lives with his mother and has multiple standee cutouts of celebrities in his basement. It is in this basement where Rupert plays out his dreams and role-plays his fantasy of being famous.
Watching Rupert not give up and continuing to harass Jerry and his company is cringe-worthy. But Rupert as a character is also entertaining to watch, particularly when he tries to find ways to get what he wants and cut corners in show business.
The character of Rupert is played so well by Robert De Niro, and it’s easily one of my favourite performances from the actor. De Niro is rather enjoyable because the character is convincing and confident. Audience members will also find it easy to sympathise with Rupert even though he’s always pushing for what he wants in a wrong way. That’s the power of movies. Supporting actor Jerry Lewis is also fun to watch as he continually frowns upon Rupert’s methods and first-hand witnesses his obsession.
Director Martin Scorsese has simply directed a film that I genuinely love. The biggest strength in the movie is how well he has captured emotion, tension and pure awkwardness in its characters, particularly in Rupert’s case.
Considering this is from 1982, it’s impressive how well the visuals and the general story still holds up. And as for the plot, I can understand how many movie lovers relate this film to Joker, which was released in 2019. As an overall film, its only major weakness for me was that I felt some scenes dragged on far too long, and some scenes felt slightly overdone.
Overall, I enjoyed The King Of Comedy for many reasons, but mostly for its outstanding performance from Robert De Niro, who plays a man with a dangerous obsession. Despite the title of the film, it’s a film that doesn’t deliver the laughs, instead providing a deeper and darker level of emotion and entertainment. The film also still holds up well. If you’ve never seen The King Of Comedy, please do so- it will be a memorable and an unforgettable experience.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden