USA Release date: 18th February 1983 (Limited)
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 20th October 2012.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
This is a film I have wanted to see for a long time and it finally aired on TV this week. I am very happy to say that may anticipation wasn’t misplaced, it’s an excellent film! Great direction, writing and performances; all round it hits all the high notes for me and you’re even left with a small mystery at the end. But more of that after this very brief summary.
Rupert Pupkin is obsessed with celebrity comic and TV host, Jerry Langford. He inhabits a fantasy world where he and Langford are close friends; as well as being extremely rich and famous (of course). Having conned his way into Langford’s car one evening after a show, with the help of another fan, Masha. Pupkin starts pestering Langford to give him a spot on his chat show. Not wishing to appear rude, Langford tells him to ring the office and they’ll arrage to look at his work. Of course Pupkin takes this much further than intended and eventually ends up in trouble with the building’s security guards. But how much further will Pupkin take his obsession? I think I’ll leave it there or the Spoiler Police (Comedy Division) will be measuring me up for clown shoes (again).
With Scorsese in charge you know the film is going to be well made; and he doesn’t let us down here. It’s an excellent production with some trule excellent performances. Talking of which; I have heard from several sources that this is considered the best; or certainly one of the best; performances from Robert De Niro. I must say his portrayal of Rupert Pupkin is quite stunning and I’m struggling to disagree with that assesment. I also thought Jerry Lewis did and excellent job as Jerry Langford; a more serious role for him and I thought he played it very well. Also worthy of note were; Diahnne Abbott as Rita Keane and Sandra Bernhard as Masha.
I love the way Scorsese switches the action between reality and Pupkin’s fantasies and back again. It really keeps the audience guessing just what is real and what is coming from inside Pupkin’s head. This is where De Niro really shines; it’s his perfromance that gives it creedance; Pupkin’s dilusions become real because Ne Niro makes them appear so. It’s a masterful performance I must admit. As to the mystery; well, is the ending real or is it another of Pupkin’s fantasies? Scorsese leaves us no clues which I think is pretty cool.
SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
My score: 9.2/10
IMDb Score: 7.7/10 (based on 50,502 votes at the time of going to press).
MetaScore: No Data: (Based on 0 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Tomatometer’ Score: 93/100 (based on 40 reviews counted at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 71/100 ‘Want to See’ (based on 23,886 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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Ed Herlihy: And now, from New York, The Jerry Langford Show! With Jerry's guests Tony Randall, Richard Dreyfuss, Rodney Dangerfield, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Lou Brown and the orchestra, and little old me Ed Herlihy. And now say hello to Jerry!
Rupert Pupkin: [arguing with Masha] What about things that I did for you that no money can buy, no money can buy? What about the time I gave you my spot! You came over there, I gave you my spot! You stood there and I let you get right next to Jerry. I waited for 8 hours for him and you went right next to him cause you were crying to me cause you wanted to get next to Jerry and you got next to him. And what about the time I gave you my last album of the Best of Jerry, what about that? It wasn't anybody else it was me and I didn't even ask you for money and I can't even pay my rent! What are talking about? I live in a hovel! And you live in a townhouse! I can't believe this girl!
Jerry Langford: Alright, look pal, I gotta tell you... this is a crazy business, but it's not unlike any other business. There are ground rules, and you don't just walk on to a network show without experience. Now I know it's an old, hackneyed expression, but it happens to be the truth. You've got to start at the bottom.
Rupert Pupkin: I know. That's where I am, at the bottom.
Jerry Langford: Well, that's the perfect place to start.
Rupert Pupkin: I know that, but I'm not say... there's gotta be...
Jerry Langford: It looks so simple to the viewer at home, those things that come so easily, that are so relaxed, and looks like it's a matter of just taking another breath. It takes years and years and years of honing that.
Rupert's Mom: Rupert? What are you doing down there?
Rupert Pupkin: MOM!
Rupert Pupkin: Well I'm sorry. I made a mistake.
Jerry Langford: So did Hitler.
Rupert Pupkin: I'm gonna work 50 times harder, and I'm gonna be 50 times more famous than you.
Jerry Langford: Then you're gonna have idiots like you plaguing your life!