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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's The Rupert Pupkin Show!
Chances are that if Robert De Niro is in a movie, it's going to be good. (Especially the old classics.) This one is no exception and I can't believe it has taken me this long to finally see this amazing comedy. Finally out on DVD, "The King of Comedy" is a terrific film on all fronts.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, "The King of Comedy" is about a man named Rupert...
Published on January 19, 2003 by Michael Crane

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven and sometimes botched transfer to HD
A great film, a disappointing high def debut.
The image timings here seem incredibly dark and filled
with artificial grain. While some primaries pop, colors are
mostly subdued and have a re-cooked, tampered feel.
Even some of the day light exteriors look flat, darkened and drained
of natural color. The actual film elements and existing DVD...
Published 8 months ago by Chetman

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42 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's The Rupert Pupkin Show!, January 19, 2003
Michael Crane (Orland Park, IL USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The King of Comedy (DVD)
Chances are that if Robert De Niro is in a movie, it's going to be good. (Especially the old classics.) This one is no exception and I can't believe it has taken me this long to finally see this amazing comedy. Finally out on DVD, "The King of Comedy" is a terrific film on all fronts.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, "The King of Comedy" is about a man named Rupert Pupkin (De Niro); a man with dreams of stand-up comedy success and superstardom on his mind. He doesn't spend too much time in the real world; his made-up world is far more enjoyable to him. There is hardly a moment in where he isn't daydreaming some. Rupert knows that the one man who can make his dreams come true is talk-show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis). Unfortunately, Langford wants absolutely nothing to do with Pupkin and sees him only as another star-crazed and psychotic fan. So, Rupert decides to do the next best thing that will guarantee him a spot on Jerry's show; he kidnaps him. Everything else just goes straight to hell after that with unpredictable twists and turns.
This was a very funny and well-done movie that should've gotten more recognition when it was first out. Although it may have never gotten the attention it deserved while in theatres, I feel it is more popular now than ever before. I've always heard people quote the movie but never knew of which movie they were talking about. Robert De Niro is amazing as ever and really has fun with his role. Jerry Lewis is also incredible as the bitter talk show host who just wants to be left alone by everybody. Sandra Bernhard also deserves mention because I thought she was hilarious in this as well.
I still can't believe this is a Martin Scorsese film. I know all the familiar camera angels and techniques are there, but this is so different from anything else he has ever done. He proves that his movies don't have to be violent and have to be full of profanities to be enjoyable. He captures the absurdity and outrageousness perfectly. Scorsese isn't just a terrific film maker, he is a unique storyteller as well.
The DVD is quite good as well. Not the best, but has some very neat features to it. I thought the transfer was really good, being that it is such an old movie. I thought the picture looked great, although it did have its moments where it could've looked better. However, the overall presentation was very impressive. There are a few special features such as a making-of-featurette, still gallery, and a theatrical trailer and TV spot. I wished there would've been more extras, but I was still satisfied for the most part.
"The King of Comedy" is a wildly entertaining film that had me laughing from start to finish. With a creative story and terrific acting, this is an amazing film that should be seen by all. A true Scorsese classic gem that I will never get tired of.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rupert Pupkin: A Name I Can't Forget!, July 11, 2006
Craig Connell (Lockport, NY USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The King of Comedy (DVD)
This strange movie has stayed with me since the first time I saw it almost 20 years ago. In fact, I've never forgotten the name, "Rupert Pupkin," a odd name made famous by Robert De Niro as the leading actor in this unique drama/comedy/ crime film. De Niro was just outstanding, one of his best efforts in an illustrious career.

Jerry Lewis and Sandra Bernhard also were really good here, in supporting roles. Comedians sometimes make great dramatic actors as Lewis has demonstrated in several films. I don't know, frankly, if Bernard has ever done anything remotely as good as this.

Biographies of eccentric people usually are interesting and this one more than fits the bill. This movie was not popular with audiences and a number of critics but I think it was superbly done with laugh-out-loud lines as well as subtle humor and great acting. It is a wonderful character study of obsessed fans of celebrities, a pitiful condition that exists even more today.

If you have a warped sense humor you'll really love this film. I think it is perhaps the best-ever from De Niro and director Martin Scorcese.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DE NIRO/SCORSESE - THE KINGS OF CINEMA, October 1, 2005
This review is from: The King of Comedy (DVD)
That's what happens when a movie is being made by true masters. De Niro and Scorsese created many films together and it seems everything they lay their hands on turns to gold - whether it's a gangster flick or a comedy. There are practically no jokes in "The King of Comedy" (except the ones De Niro and Jerry Lewis let off during their stand-up acts, but that's a comedy within a comedy) but this film is just killing. It pretends to be very serious but this seriousness is also hilarious. That's a real skill to make a no-nonsense movie everybody will be laughing madly about. To my opinion this is one of the best works of Robert De Niro (I know - he had many, but this one really deserves to be called so), Jerry Lewis - I can't describe how great he is here, and Sandra Bernhard is also outstanding.
"The King of Comedy" is a less known film of Martin Scorsese and I can't find an explanation why. But the fact it's not that known as his other works doesn't diminish its value. Grab this flick as soon as possible - it's one of the best tragicomedies ever put on celluloid.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest look at our own obsessions with fame and fortune..., September 23, 2008
Andrew Ellington (I'm kind of everywhere) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The King of Comedy (DVD)
Be forewarned, this is not a laugh out loud comedy that will have you rolling in the isles. It is a more subtle yet utterly hysterical satire that pokes fun at the road to fame and the dim-witted hacks that clutter that said road. It exposes the disease that it fame and how easy it is for one to deceive themselves into thinking they have what it takes; and then again how easy it is for someone who lacks talent to make it on pure ambition alone.

`The King of Comedy' revolves around Robert Pupkin, a delusional wannabe comedian who sees local late night talk show host Jerry Langford as his ticket to the big leagues. Every night on the `Jerry Show' they have a `King of Comedy' and Pupkin desires to be that said king. He tries to corner Jerry, prodding him with material and asking him to consider letting him on the show, but when Jerry tries to let him down easy he only retaliates with a more forceful approach. After several failed attempts to become a part of Jerry's life Rupert finally decides that he has to take a more extreme approach to the matter, and that's when he enlists the help of another obsessive fan, Masha, in a kidnapping scheme that finally gets Rupert the attention he feels he deserves.

The script is deliciously subtle, a script that relies on the audiences perception of events rather than obvious gags. Case-in-point, one never hears Rupert's actual standup until the very end of the film, so we are only to conclude that he is a no-talent hack with no potential on the reactions of others, making up our own minds much later on in the film.

It is the strong performances that really elevate the film though, Robert De Niro once again proving why he was considered the greatest actor of his generation. As Rupert, De Niro never makes him a likable guy but always presents him in a way that endears us to him. He is annoying and obnoxious and completely delusional but there is some small quality within him that is so honestly human we can't help but relate. I mean which one of us hasn't had a fake conversation with a celebrity just to feel what it would be like to be `on their level'?

I found myself wondering if I am that delusional in my desire to be famous...

The rest of the cast is just as wonderful, from Jerry Lewis who actually plays it straight here, reigning in his own comedic energy to play the average celebrity trying his hardest to live a normal life. Sandra Bernhard steals every scene as Masha, throwing her over-the-top antics in our face and causing that ripple effect in our guts until we're bursting with laughter.

If ever there was a film to squash the claim that Martin Scorsese only directs gangster flicks, this would be that film. It is smart, witty and insanely honest and drives Scorsese (and even De Niro) in a direction they rarely venture. It is one of Scorsese's finest films and one of De Niro's finest performances, and that's saying a lot since both director and actor are usually phenomenal.

The films ending is rather appropriate, and actually elevates the film for me for it speaks such honesty, especially in a world littered with fake celebrities (I'm looking at you Kim Kardashian). In a reality based society where misfits litter the audition segments of top shows like `American Idol' it appears that `The King of Comedy' is more pertinent today than it was upon its release. Maybe that's why the film garnered no traction at the time. This is sad; for `The King of Comedy' is one of the smartest comedies I have had the pleasure of seeing and is one that is sure to get a rise out of anyone who is remotely up to date with today's pop culture.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lewis, Bernhard, and De Niro Classic is No Comedy!, February 16, 2001
S. H. Towsley (Fort Wayne, IN & Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The King of Comedy (DVD)
I was delighted to discover this ironic and disturbing movie, directed with a sure hand by Scorsese and acted to the hilt by Robert De Niro. Sometimes movies walk a fine line between repelling an audience and fascinating it. This movie flopped at the box office precisely because of the irritating behavior of it's protagonist, yet the plot and performances are garnering increasing appreciation over the years. I was held in fascinated suspense, even though Rupert Pupkin has all the traits of an obsessed borderline personality, because the story develops with originality and an odd humor.
I found myself first repelled by Rupert because his "profile" could be that of a budding serial killer -- but on the other hand he is relatively benign and his increasingly outrageous attempts to impose himself upon talk show host Jerry Langford become funny, because he deserves to fail, and he does fail most of the time. Pupkin gets rejected, snubbed, ignored, barely tolerated, and unceremoniously ejected by most everyone at the television network where Jerry works. They've all got his number. We've all known people who doggedly pursue others to the point at which their behavior gets them branded a "nut." This is certainly Jerry Langford's opinion of Pupkin, particularly when Pupkin makes himself at home with his unsuspecting date at Jerry's place in a posh desert resort. We come to respect the Langford character, and Jerry Lewis' fine performance, more and more every time Jerry tells Pupkin off. Jerry Lewis is so good one begins to wonder how much is drawn from his own personality, but I think it's a testament to his rightness for the role.
Sandra Bernhard is also mesmerizing as Rupert's nearest sympathizer and Jerry-groupie in her own right. The plot culminates with DeNiro and Bernhard kidnapping Lewis in a sequence that evoked the loudest amazed laughter from me. Sandra is is fascinating, animated and wild-eyed, but without going over the top. She, like the other principals, maintains a strong degree of realism in the performance. Sandra winds up cluelessly attempting to seduce her hostage in sexy underwear while he's tied to a chair, in one of the movie's most entertaining scenes.
I think this movie works because it is such an unblinking look at people we don't often see in movies, the mildly delusional people who walk the streets and annoy and embarrass us, but never seem to get arrested until they do something really outrageous. DeNiro and Bernhard are loony-toons and the plot lets them be thwarted and rebuffed and scorned, which is funny while being comforting to us. We become alternately angry and embarrassed for the two groupies as we watch their clueless harrassment of people who intensely dislike them. Yet on another level, if we've ever been rejected by a pompous employer, we might sympathize a little with Pupkin's feelings even as we disapprove his methods.
The ending of the movie (I believe there was more than one written and shot) is Scorsese's wit showing through. Some folks find the ending off-putting but I take it as an ironic punchline, to be enjoyed precisely because it is so provocative. And the ending makes a good point -- that undeserving nuts sometimes do luck into celebrity, that jerks sometimes do reach the top, and that an American audience at times bestows fame on people who, if they knew them personally, would make their skin crawl. This in itself is a humorous irony and an excellent point.
KING OF COMEDY is tough to explain, but it is fine work by a great director and cast. My guess is that people either love this movie or hate it -- there isn't much room in the middle. This may not make my top ten, but it is definitely on my list of favorites. It will be in my collection when released on DVD.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seen 4+ Times and Love It Every Time, January 6, 2003
This review is from: The King of Comedy (DVD)
Put together heaping doses of Scorese, DeNiro, Jerry Lewis and Sandra Bernhard and what do you have? An absolute masterpiece. When I first went to see it in the theaters, I had my doubts. First, DeNiro and Scorsese doing comedy together when their forte was violent gangster and/or fighter films? And who in the heck wanted to see that washed up wreck of a comic Jerry Lewis clown around and fall all over himself? I went anyway since I never miss a Scorese film. I never even have these kinds of doubts when showing up for a Scorsese film anymore because I realized if he could pull this off, he could do anything.

Yes, DeNiro as a would-be comic who pesters and stalks tv star Jerry Lester (Lewis) to get his shot of stand-up fame and then performs stand-up brilliantly is a revelation. Plus, you get to see another Jerry Lewis, probably the one who is much closer to the "real" Lewis. You haven't seen him since he played the "Hyde" part of Buddy Love in Lewis's "Nutty Professor." Lewis plays a very dark, cold, unfunny, calculating tv performer. The best part with Lewis though are his scenes when he is being held hostage by Sandra Bernhard, who has the hots for him, to give Deniro's "Rupert Pupkin" his tv shot. This may be the unlikeliest and thus funniest romantic pairing ever shown in a movie (entirely one sided as it is since Lewis/Lester is a total narcissist). This is a film to buy for your permanent DVD collection.

Visit my blog with link given on my profile page here or use this phonetically given [...]. Friday's entry will always be weekend entertainment recs from my 5 star Amazon reviews in film, tv, books and music. These are very heavy on buried treasures and hidden gems. My blogspot is published on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars SHOWBIZ FROM THE LUNATIC FRINGES (ON A GREAT DVD!), February 29, 2004
This review is from: The King of Comedy (DVD)
Martin Scorsese's brilliant satire about a wannabe standup/schmuck played with deliberate humorlessness by De Niro, who suffers from delusions of grandeur, determined to meet his hero Jerry Lewis in a performance played with shocking bravura.
The film is timeless in its depiction of the twin themes of celebrity stalking with its masochistic need to be discovered by the world on one hand, and the perils of stardom on the other. The perfect comic execution could easily have been the inspiration for several of recent thinkpieces -- "Election", "Fight Club", "The Truman Show", "One Hour Photo" etc.
A word for the DVD. It is brilliantly put together with detailed interviews with Scorcese, Bernhart, De Niro etc, plus some funny cameos by Jerry Lewis himself, and a funny handy-cam outtake or two while shooting Lewis on the streets of NY.
A very worthy purchase, not just a rental!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars squirm... (plus comments on the Blu-ray), September 5, 2005
This review is from: The King of Comedy (DVD)
I almost didn't buy the Blu-ray, because of negative comments about a poor transfer. The transfer is supposedly from the camera negative, and often looks it, as in the first scene with Rupert and Rita. The blacks are deep, the colors rich, and the sharpness and detail exemplary. (I sometime wonder what equipment some viewers own.) You can buy the Blu-ray without fear.

"The King of Comedy" is the complementary "bookend" of another Scorsese masterpiece, "Taxi Driver", with Robert DeNiro playing asocial, near-psychotic fame-obsessed characters in both. Both films play strongly against audience expectation -- "King" even more than "Taxi".

In "The King of Comedy", DeNiro's character, Rupert Pupkin -- a seemingly untalented standup-comic wannabe -- is played for very black non-laughs. Rupert is so cut off from normal social interaction that he's unable to make any progress towards becoming the "king of comedy" he knows he's destined to be. When an encounter with his late-night idol Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) finally opens the possibility of appearing on television, he completely blows the chance, throwing him into the anguish that provokes increasingly demented assaults on his idol.

On your first viewing -- and likely your third and tenth -- you'll be so violently embarrassed by Pupkin's self-destructive behavior that your toes will spastically curl down -- and stay there. You'll squirm so much you'll think you've mutated into a graboid. Rumor has it the actors //themselves// were so embarrassed that scenes which should have taken hours to film took //days//.

This acute discomfort explains the film's box-office failure (not to mention its "sitting in the can" for a year) -- the average viewer isn't interested in a protagonist devoid of any sympathetic or redeeming characteristics -- until the end.

The ending wholly upsets our expectations. Though we've been lead to believe Rupert lacks any mirth-provoking skills, he shows himself quite able to get an audience to laugh. His routine might not be brilliant, but he's no less funny than most comedians guesting on late-night talk shows.

Significantly, Pupkin's routine isn't a series of jokes, but a more or less literal recitation of his miserable childhood. What the audience finds funny is actually Rupert's personal tragedy. We finally understand why he's so screwed up. (I emphatically disagree with Roger Ebert that the film has no "payoff" and the ending is "cynical and unsatisfying".)

Though "Taxi Driver" and "The King of Comedy" are fundamentally similar, the latter inverts two important elements of the former...

>> Despite its gritty look, "Taxi Driver" is fundamentally romantic, while "King of Comedy" treats the material in a semi-documentary style. Scorsese never "tells" us how we're supposed to react to the characters.

>> We're initially annoyed (to say the least!) by Rupert Pupkin, then ultimately sympathize with him. Travis Bickle is at first the sympathetic loner, until we realize he's a psycho -- underscored (pun intended) by Bernard Herrmann's re-use of the three-note "mad house" theme at the end.

Which brings us to the films' use of music. The "Taxi Driver" score came from the greatest film composer yet to have set pen to paper, while "King of Comedy" has //no// score. Why?

Bernard Herrmann felt music was needed to make an emotional connection between the screen and the audience. This ain't necessarily so -- you can fully convey the most-profound emotions in a scoreless film (eg, "The Execution of Private Slovick").

Music's ability to enhance emotion is //so// strong it can override the director's intentions. This is probably why Hitchcock initially told Herrmann //not// to score Janet Leigh's shower. Without music, the scene is indescribably brutal. With Herrmann's music, its Expressionistic elements are raised to the Nth power. Is it any wonder Hitchcock was thrilled and let the music stand?

Scorsese must have recognized this, and realized that any musical "comment" on Rupert Pupkin's behavior would only soften and sentimentalize the audience's reaction to him. When Pupkin makes an utter fool of himself, the audience has to experience it directly -- gurgling bassoons can't be telling the viewer they're not supposed to take it seriously. Similarly, when we finally begin to understand Rupert at the end, Scorsese doesn't want to sentimentalize the moment.

If you have any lingering doubts about seeing "The King of Comedy", there's //one thing// in it (ignoring even DeNiro's incredibly perfect "should have won an Oscar" performance -- he //is// Rupert Pupkin) that fully justifies a viewing: After kidnapping Langford, Pupkin and Masha tie him to a chair, then duct-tape his mouth.

The sight of "Mr. Greasy-Hair No-Talent" himself, Jerry Lewis, with his mouth taped shut (Oh, joy! Oh, rapture!), is worth the price of admission, many, many times over. If all of Martin Scorsese's work were destroyed, except for this one scene, it would be enough to sanctify his art as a movie maker. I grovel at Scorsese's feet, for (at least symbolically) putting the French toast of intellectuals in his place. It's doubly pleasing, because Lewis's turn as Langford is, consciously or not, strikingly self-satirizing. He was the //only// actor for the role.

If you have Microsoft Cinemania, look up the Ebert and Kael reviews. Ebert's shows why he is one of the finest critics around -- whether or not you agree with him, you come away with a better understanding of a film. (It's also worthwhile reading Ebert's review of "Taxi Driver" to see how much of what he says about that film can be applied to "The King of Comedy.") Kael's review shows that the only insight she has into anything is her own self-serving attitude. There was never a "serious" movie critic who brought //less// -- intellectually or emotionally -- to the reviewing process than Pauline Kael (qv, her review of "2001").

Is "The King of Comedy" a truly great film? I don't know. But it //is// a terrific piece of totally uncompromising film making. Anyone who claims to love movies should see it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the best of Scorcese/DeNiro collaborations, May 4, 2000
"mystic80" (Massachusetts) - See all my reviews
DeNiro is Rupert Pupkin, a showbiz obsessed loser comedian who wants to hit the big time. He stalks his favorite game show host Jerry Langford (Jerry Lewis) for a shot to appear on the show. He ends up resorting to dangerous stunts including kidnapping Jerry with the help of an obsessed fan (Sandra Bernhard). The performances are top notch and the direction is well done. One of Scorcese and DeNiro's best. The film gives you a real understanding of the dangers of celebrity and fame and how much it can affect your personal life. Sandra Bernhard is excellent as the obsessed fan intent on making love to a tied up Jerry.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some of you don't get it., July 1, 2006
A Kid's Review
And "you" would be David Hutton, a reviewer a few posts down. Dark comedies aren't normally billed as laughfests. They are meant to be funny, yes, but the storyline usually has a little bit of an unnerving edge to it as well. FYI, I wasn't laughing during this movie either but still found it immensely entertaining. Scorsese is one of my favorite directors and I love the job he did on this film. And De Niro and Lewis were perfect fits for their roles.

If you want to have a few belly laughs, Mr. Hutton, I suggest you rent a few Laurel and Hardy shorts. You completely missed the boat on this one.
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King of Comedy: 30th Anniversary [Blu-ray]
King of Comedy: 30th Anniversary [Blu-ray] by King of Comedy (Blu-ray - 2014)
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