This latest starring role for veteran actor Robert De Niro of an aging stand-up comedian who is trying to resurrect his faded career, was evidently a passion project that he had been pursuing for years. It is a pity then that despite his unquestionable charm, and talent of course, that this new movie sadly ends up such a wasted opportunity and quite an unfortunate mish mash.
De Niro plays Jackie Burke who had found fame and fortune starring in a hit TV sitcom Eddie’s Home several decades before, and try as hard as he does his fans won’t let him forget that. His act as a stand-up comedian based on insult jokes doesn’t go down well with anyone of them, and one night actually leads to fracas where Jackie gets arrested and jailed. When he is freed to do community service he meets Harmony (a very spirited Leslie Mann) who is doing time for beating up her ex. What follows is an attempt at age-inappropriate ‘relationship’ which is as unsettling for the audience as it is for Harmony herself.
On the sidelines there is Jackie’s brother (Danny DeVito) who runs a N.Y. Jewish Deli with his very frosty wife (wonderfully played by Patti Lupone) and to whom Jackie only visits when he needs another handout. This time it comes at a price when they insist that he attends his lesbian niece’s wedding, something they come to regret when his foul-mouth speech insults most of the people in the room.
His far too patient agent Miller (Edie Falco) works her magic to get the almost unemployable Jackie a gig at a Friar Club Roast for 95 year star comedian May Conner ( a scene stealing Cloris Leachman) but that turns sour when May ups and dies before he can get going.
Meanwhile Harmony has now fled town and working for her creepy father (Harvey Krietel) running his Seniors Home in Florida, and has she has been refusing to answer any of Jackie’s calls or emails, when he gets a gig in the area, he pays her a surprise visit. His routine in front of the residents of the home is really one of the low points of this movie, from which it never really recovers.
The movie directed by Taylor Hackford had all the ingredients on paper for being a rather good movie as it is packed with such wonderful A list of remarkable acting talent, but the weak script that meandered all over the place let them all down. De Niro meanwhile had us routing for him when as Jackie he genuinely struggled with who he had turned out to be, but on-stage he seemed as uncomfortable performing his nasty routines as we did watching them.