Jackie Burke (Robert De Niro) is a renowned comedy legend who’s mostly remembered for a television character he played earlier in his career, a character Jackie would rather audiences forget since it doesn’t fit with his more brash brand of comedy. After attacking a heckler at a show, Jackie’s sentenced to prison and community service. While performing his community service, he meets a fellow worker named Harmony (Leslie Mann), and the two form a friendship. Jackie also works to rebuild his career, taking bookings across New York City while restricted by his parole.
There’s more to the film, but detailing every part of the film would take up several paragraphs. There’s a thin overall plot to the film, and a lot of little stories told within. There’s nothing wrong with that, in theory at least. But it would help if the film was funny, which…The Comedian largely isn’t. Jackie is essentially a shock comic, with a style that may have worked a few decades ago, but doesn’t now. It’s intentional, but there’s nothing to it. The film isn’t really interested in seeing Jackie learn to evolve as a comic, and if it’s trying to argue that this type of comedy being acceptable is missed, it falls flat. The Comedian has a solid cast, and the premise could arguably work, but the final version of this film is a mess.