First Hit: A good story and look into the life of an older comedian whose had his day.
Being about the same age as the character Jackie Burke (Robert De Niro) it was an interesting story, look, and life of an older comedian. Jackie was once a television star and part of the issue is that people see him as this television character and not as himself, an insult comic that is just getting by.
Burke is a sarcastic man in both his communication with everyone he interacts with. Although he's not asked to perform when he goes into a comedy clubs, he is known, gets an occasional shout-out, and carefully watches the younger comedians to see what works, what's funny.
One night, while performing in a small club owned by Jimmie “J.J.” Walker (yes Mr. Goodtimes), he’s harassed by a couple in the audience. She’s filming him as her husband shoots barbs at Burke. The husband gets under Burke’s skin so much that Jackie ends up hitting the husband with the microphone. The couple sues and also posts the fight they filmed on YouTube. While in court, Jackie refuses to apologize in an appropriate way and the judge gives him jail time. After getting out he starts community work at a homeless shelter which is where he meets Harmony Schitz (Leslie Mann).
She’s also doing community work at the same homeless shelter. They hit it off and spend time together by going to a comedy club, she joins him at a family wedding at the invitation of his brother Jimmy (Danny DeVito) and his wife Florence (Patti LuPone), and then he joins her at a dinner with her father Mac (Harvey Keitel).
In each of the interactions he does a routine, and each one is insult based which goes over in some audiences and not so much in others. He gets an opportunity to be part of the dais of a roast for a 90+ year old May Conner (Cloris Leachman) who ends up dying during his part of the roast.
His agent Miller (Edie Falco) tries to get him gigs, but it is hard because of his age, type of comedy he does and his past history. To juxtapose his past with his more successful peers, the storyline has him visiting the Friars Club in NYC where he talks with Charles Grodin, Billy Crystal, Brett Butler, and Gilbert Gottfried to name a few.
However, despite the star power and interactions with these comedians, the jabs aren't very funny. As it turns out, the funniest and most popular parts of his life are the mistakes he makes which are video taped and posted online.
I thought the jokes that Jackie had were good and De Niro’s delivery was very strong, it just isn’t the type of humor I'm attracted to. However there were moments of out loud laughter. I did like the film's more serious turn when Jackie finds himself wanting to spend more time with Harmony.
De Niro was solid as the old-time comedian and his comedic act was really good. I just didn’t connect with the jokes. Mann was superb. I loved her intensity and skittishness. She was one of the very best parts of the film. Keitel was strong as Mann’s controlling father. LuPone was really perfect as the sister-in-law who doesn’t like Burke. DeVito was wonderful as Jackie’s brother. Leachman was interesting as the 90+ year old honored comedienne. Falco as Jackie’s manager was very good. I liked her realistic engagement and devotion to Burke. The team of Art Linson, Jeffery Ross, Richard LaGravenese and Lewis Friedman wrote a good script that reflected the time of Jackie’s fame very well. I especially liked Harmony’s role and lines. Taylor Hackford did a great job of directing the main characters, but the script didn't use the other great comedians very effectively.
Overall: Although I didn’t really like the humor in this film, I did think it was well done.