The King of Comedy 4.0 stars

King of Comedy movie poster

Nice idea; nice execution. A self-styled but totally untested comic named Rupert Pupkin and a female groupie named Masha kidnap a Johnny Carson-ish late-night talk-show host, each for their own private ends, Pupkin to extract a fifteen-minute guest spot on The Jerry Langford Show and the groupie to fulfill her erotic fantasies in the flesh. In its first half or two-thirds, when Pupkin is attempting to rise to the top through official channels, the movie is encyclopedic on the embarrassments of waiting rooms and unanswered phone calls, of trying to maintain chutzpah in the face of people mispronouncing or not remembering one's name, of fighting to preserve whatever dignity one can, with whomever one can, even if this means, as it usually does, getting high-handed with the hired help. Even when the improbable kidnap scheme is launched, the movie never relaxes its grip on human reality. Best of a rather large lot is Jerry Lewis, who, in the role of Langford, is simply perfect, though the fact that the role fits him perfectly might tend to magnify his actual skills: in what other role would his tar-brushed, weather-proofed hair not be a glaring liability? With Robert De Niro, Sandra Bernhard, and Diahnne Abbott; written by Paul Zimmerman; directed by Martin Scorsese. 1982.

Duncan Shepherd

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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