Sunday, January 27, 2008

The trouble all starts when the object of your fantasy just won't be your fantasy (Film - The King of Comedy)


If you love film you have probably once in your life been crazy about some star or other. Oh come on, admit it - or maybe it was a television star, sports star, singer, prince. But having a relationship with a celebrity, you don't actually know them, you're really falling in love with an idea you have about them. And they might be nothing like that. Nothing at all. So if you finally, unfortunately meet them that experience can be mortifying, often people find they can't speak at all - of course not, it would ruin the fantasy - and you might end up being really disappointed.

Now if your name happened to be Rupert Pupkin, and you lived with your mother in Clifton New Jersey and you were over thirty you might already be very disappointed. And if you have one wish in the world, and that is to be the King of Comedy on the evening talk show hosted by the celebrity with whom you are obsessed, and if he just won't listen to you...well, well, what would you do? I'm not going to tell you what Rupert, played by Robert de Niro, does. He is joined by his pathological fellow groupie, played by Sandra Bernhard, she has, shall we say, a different fantasy. But it is no less intense in its fervent hope and unreality. They are is utterly excruciating to watch. Like a very slow car crash happening over and over. Jerry Lewis is the object of their twin obsessions. The three of them are remarkably subtle - this sounds pretty over the top, doesn't it? The situation is continually over the top and yet they never are and so you are left ricocheting between laughing and gawping in embarrassment. It is so a word. It's a combination of gaping and gawking - look it up. If you have never seen this wonderful film directed by Martin Scorcese, and I hadn't until getting it from the library after Sheila recommended it to me a few weeks ago, get a copy of The King of Comedy and please, be compassionate.

Classes start up again tomorrow so this is my Monday post. I may be posting a little more erratically now, but I'll try and keep up.

4 comments:

Sheila O'Malley said...

I'm so glad you saw it! It is excruciating, isn't it? Isn't Jerry Lewis great, too? The scenes with Rupert in his basement and the cardboard cutouts is almost too painful to watch. I think it is one of Deniro's most compassionate acting jobs. Because even though I do not want to spend any time with Rupert Pupkin, my heart aches for him.

Cam said...

It's been years since I've seen this film. It may be the only film that I can say I love but can't stand to watch. When it first came out on video, a colleague told me I had to see it. We watched it that night and as soon as it was over, had to watch it again. Talk about gawping at a train wreck! That is the only time that I've seen it in its entirety. Truly painful to watch, but as Sheila says, your heart aches so for Rupert.

Ted said...

S - Thank you for the recommendation! It really was extraordinary and painful and it is a lovely performance by deniro, he gets at the guy's geekiness and desperation without ever playing at it.

C - Indeed it does.

Bybee said...

Oh, everything you said. Definitely.

I was really impressed with JL's acting when I saw this. Ditto DeNiro.