Combustible Celluloid
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With: Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, Sandra Bernhard
Written by: Paul D. Zimmerman
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 109
Date: 02/17/1983

The King of Comedy (1983)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Black Humor

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This bizarre work is one of Martin Scorsese's greatest and most underrated films. Robert DeNiro plays Rupert Pupkin, a wannabe comedian obsessed with talk show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis). He tries to go through proper channels to get on the show but when he fails, he and another fanatic (Sandra Bernhard) kidnap Langford in order to arrange a "guest" appearance on his show.

Interestingly, the perpetually juvenile Lewis plays the most grown-up character in the film, revealing a disturbing attempt to tackle issues of immaturity in an industry that thrives on them. Along with The Last Temptation of Christ and Kundun, this film boasts Scorsese himself at his most adult level.

Though it's awfully tough to get through the first time, a second and third viewing can be highly rewarding. Fox's DVD comes with a making-of featurette, deleted footage, a trailer and stills.

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