Saturday 13 January 2024

Movie Review: Punchline (1988)

Genre: Drama  
Director: David Seltzer  
Starring: Sally Field, Tom Hanks, John Goodman  
Running Time: 122 minutes  

Synopsis: In New York City, Lilah Krystick (Sally Field) is a housewife and amateur stand-up comic. Although she is awkward on stage and rarely delivers laughs, she still performs regularly at the Gas Station club. Financially struggling fellow comic Steven Gold (Tom Hanks) is the club's rising star, but under family pressure to pursue a medical career. Lilah's husband John (John Goodman) wants her to focus on being a wife and mother, but she is determined to pursue comedy and strikes up a friendship with Steven.

What Works Well: Director and writer David Seltzer demonstrates courage to craft a serious drama within the world of comedy. While the better stand-up routines contain laughs, the focus is on pathos, hustle, and the specter of failure. Under the stewardship of proprietor Romeo (Mark Rydell), the Gas Station club roster of comedians consists of mostly awful performers eking out a heckled living. Even for a talented comic like Steven Gold, the pathway to discovery is far from certain, and the resultant emotional strain provides Tom Hanks with a latitude of desperation. Refreshingly, the unbalanced would-be romance between Steven and Lilah sprouts in the shadow of thorns.

What Does Not Work As Well: By definition the tone suffers from gyrations between awkwardness, laughter, and trepidation, while Seltzer indulges most scenes for longer than necessary.

Conclusion: The struggles and sadness residing within laughter.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.