Film Review

THE KING OF COMEDY – A Review by Frank Mengarelli

“Is Mr. Langford expecting you?” – Langford’s Secretary

“Yes, I don’t think he is.” – Rupert Pupkin

Meet Rupert Pupkin – whose name is often mispronounced and misspelled.  He is an insecure, timid and dissolutional young man whose dream is to perform a guest spot on “The Jerry Langford Show”.  His psychopathic friend Masha is deeply obsessed with Jerry and after numerous failed attempts of Rupert going to Jerry’s office for a meeting – the two devise a plan to kidnap Jerry.

THE KING OF COMEDY remains to be the greatest Scorsese film that not many have seen.  It showcases Robert De Niro’s finest performance as Rupert, a wickedly hilarious psychotic performance of a lifetime by Sandra Bernhard as Masha and a steady cool and calm of normality that’s brought to the film by Jerry Lewis as Jerry Langford – a Johnny Carson late night host.

This film has a nice polish on it, it looks and feels light and breezy but under the façade this is a deeply dark and sinister film.  Rupert is so utterly delirious that his basement room is his Mother’s house is a mock studio with cardboard cutouts of celebrities where he performs in front of an invisible audience every night.  The film is incredibly funny – yet you find yourself wanting to look away at how terribly humiliating situations in the film become.

After failing to meet with Jerry at his office, Rupert invites a woman who was in love with in high school, and is now a local bartender, to join him for a weekend at Jerry’s home.  Rupert arrives at Jerry’s home and forces his way past the butler and maid.  He then begins to walk around Jerry’s house telling this woman all about Jerry’s achievements and his life – speaking as if he’s known Jerry for an eternity.  Once Jerry arrives home, he demands Rupert leave, he threatens Rupert with the police and begins shouting at him.  This is one of many, many situations in the film that is so painfully humiliating to watch we find ourselves wanting to turn away – but we can’t.  We are so mesmerized by the film.

This is film is the essence of black comedy, planting the seeds for future films.  Will Farrell’s character in WEDDING CRASHERS – the grown man living in his off screen mother’s basement who is constantly yelling at her.  THE KING OF COMEDY started that all.

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