Punchline (1988)


punchline“We are all Gods animated cartoons. ” – Steven

Number of Times Seen – at least 2 (Cable in the 80’s and 20 Mar 2016)

Brief Synopsis – A New Jersey housewife tries to break in to he world of stand up comedy despite her husband’s belief that she shouldn’t be neglecting her family.

My Take on it – As a kid, I recall seeing this movie and thinking it was pretty funny and then for some reason, I didn’t see it again for nearly 25 years.

The sad thing is that this movie has a great idea with lots of potential, but instead they chose to give us an extremely sad movie about the difficult lives of comics and it comes off as being too heavily dramatic instead of (even slightly) upbeat.

The comedy is obviously less important here and the jokes aren’t as funny as one would hope.

Both Tom Hanks and Sally Field are great here (as always), but their comedy routines just don’t work well enough for us to find them believable enough as stand up comics and we lose the illusion that this film is trying to make us believe.

The chemistry that they have together also doesn’t work so great here and I think they are much better paired in Forrest Gump (1994) as mother-son than they were here as fellow comedians.

This movie does have a great list of comedians (young and old) who have cameos.

Bottom Line – Not as good as I had recalled. Tries to show the sad and difficult lives of stand up comics but instead gives us a story that isn’t upbeat enough to be interesting. Great cameos by lots of up and coming comedians.  Hanks and Field are both great as always, but neither really are able to pull off the illusion that they are funny stand up comics.  They are much better as mother-son than as potential contemporaries.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – Both Tom Hanks and Sally Field did stand-up routines in comedy clubs to prepare for this film. Stand-up comedian Susie Essman and comedy writer Dottie Archibald coached Field for her role. Archibald also served as consultant for the film, recruiting real stand-up comedians to appear in the film. Hanks enlisted stand-up comedian Barry Sobel and comedy writer Randy Fechter to help write his routine. One night, a young, up-and-coming Chris Rock shared a set with Hanks, and has stated since that Hanks was the funniest stand-up he had ever seen. During one of her routines, Sally Field shared a set with a then up-and-coming Adam Sandler, Sandler stated that Field’s routine was the funniest that he’s ever seen giving him a boost in his young career. (From IMDB)

Rating – BAFTA Worthy

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One thought on “Punchline (1988)

  1. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1988 |

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