It’s time to look at another Jerry film. This one is certainly a cut above the others that I’ve seen but does suffer quite a bit from one unfortunate subplot. This is one of those films where the first half definitely destroys the latter, but it’s a pretty entertaining film through and through. Who is the real King of Comedy? Well, you’ll know the answer by the end of this film.
The film starts off with Rupert Pumpkin trying to get a word in with Jerry. Jerry is a world famous comedian who has people lined up just to try and talk with him. Jerry isn’t having any of this and tells everyone to cool it as he runs to the car. Rupert quickly gets in as well and from here on out Rupert goes off the deep end. He wants Jerry to accept him as one of the all time greats and when Jerry is reluctant to do so Rupert kidnaps him and decides to get on TV by himself. Can he show that his comedy skills are the real deal or is he nothing more than a filler who makes everyone around him even better?
On the surface this is basically just a comedy film. It handles the humor fairly well like with Rupert’s dreams. They’re all pretty solid and some of them come in so quickly that you barely even realize that they are dreams. They feel far too real and convincing, but while the first dream will catch you by surprise you’ll likely see the others coming. They’re not too exaggerated or anything like that which is part of why the dreams are so good. They’re just handled really well. The quick banter between the characters is also solid and Rupert is a decent antagonist.
Where the film goes wrong is when it tries to be really serious as well. Masha is Rupert’s accomplice in crime and she wants Jerry for herself. In her subplot we see how crazy she is and she attempts to break Jerry. Fortunately for him she isn’t very smart and her plan isn’t even all that good. You’ll probably take this whole subplot less seriously once you see the twist, but it doesn’t take away from how long and drawn out it was. Seriously, take away this plot and the film gets much better. Rupert should have kidnapped Jerry on his own. Masha adds nothing to the film and her crazy subplot is just wince worthy.
A better supporting character is Rita. Rupert is desperate to prove to her that he is actually a big shot which is his main incentive throughout the whole movie. It’s a bit part of his character motivation. Unlike him, she seems rather sane. While I question her judgment in hanging out with him so much when he seems pretty off balance, at least she’s just trying to be nice I suppose. Aside from her and Masha there are really just two major characters, the two leads.
As I mentioned, Rupert is a pretty great villain and easily the most interesting character in the film. He really sells every scene that he is in and the guy feels like he would be better at comedy than Jerry. While he is certainly way too obsessed as a Jerry fan, at least you can’t deny his resolve. Even when his Mom interrupts his recordings time after time he keeps at it. The security guards don’t scare him either. While he is crazy, Rupert doesn’t randomly go from petty criminal to full murderer or anything like that. He still wants to be a star and takes his path to stardom. It’s not the right road, but the destination is clear.
Meanwhile we have Jerry. He’s hard to sympathize with or even like at all in this film since he’s always grouchy. It’s hard to see how he’s supposed to be a big comedian and we don’t even get to see him make any real jokes. Maybe one or two, but if so then I don’t remember him. He’s a reasonable guy though and I think anyone would be a little miffed if they were kidnapped and constantly followed by a crazy person. So I have to give him a little space there, but he’s still not really a likable character. I won’t say I was on Team Rupert, but I was always glad to see him get back on screen.
What I enjoyed a lot were the scenes with the TV producers and the Cops. It was nice to see them all talking about the situation and it’s always a tough question. Do you give the kidnapper what he wants if it won’t harm anybody in order to save the hostage or do you say no so others don’t get the same idea. It’s a tough moral debate for sure, but you gotta save the person in the moment so I agree with giving Rupert the air time. The fact that it’s to a live audience is tricky since he could say something upsetting but ideally they can nab him right away if he tries anything. The cops also tried to apply some pressure, but Rupert’s really good at keeping on a tough act. He’s certainly not the kind of guy who bends over to the pressure.
Finally, the ending is pretty intense. It’s one of those endings where you have to decide if it’s real or not. After all, a big part of the film is how Rupert can’t tell reality from fantasy so he has these visions that appear to be real. The ending almost seems too good to be true with how he has become famous now and everyone loves him so I’m inclined to say that it’s a dream. So then when does the dream start? I’d say that it starts as soon as he heads to prison. In reality, he went to prison and is still stuck there. Now, it would be a bold twist if he has been dreaming for even longer than that and never kidnapped Jerry in the first place, but I think that would be reaching a little and that would make a large chunk of the film fake. Still, it’s up to your interpretation and either way I think it’s a pretty good ending.
Overall, The King of Comedy is a solid film. While it may have gotten a little mixed up with its genres at times, it does have some moments that work really well. The ambiguous ending is also pretty fun and depending on what you think happened, it makes Rupert look quite good. I’d recommend checking this film out, it reminds you that fans can get desperate and you should never get into a strange car even at gunpoint. You gotta try to make a break for it or disarm the guy before it’s too late. I also liked the depiction of the TV studio and in general the writing was better than expected. Who’d have thought that Jerry would be in a film this good?