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1 rating: 3.0
A movie directed by David Seltzer

Lilah Krytsick (Sally Field) is a New Jersey housewife and mother of three who has been told all her life that she is funny. Steven Gold (Tom Hanks) is a failed medical student whose natural comedic talent has allowed him to steal the spotlight at New … see full wiki

Tags: Movies, Comedies
Director: David Seltzer
Release Date: 1988
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Punchline

Punchline ~ so, did you hear the one about......

  • Oct 29, 2000
Pros: decent acting and a good story line

Cons: none

Comedy, they say, is one of the hardest emotions to portray. After all, most people can feign horror, fear, loathing, rejection and tears, but to force the jaded to chuckle is a rare breed. To some it comes somewhat naturally with facial expressions, body language or their own infectious laughter. To others it is a chore.

A stand up comedian, I would think, would have both the good and the bad of humor. They receive the immediate gratification or cat calls but also have to appear ‘up' all the time to pull off their act. What about headaches, colds, PMS, flat tires ~ all those things that can shoot your day down? They have to shove those things aside for their audience in order to evoke that laughter.

And so we meet the stars of this gig. Tom Hanks, med student that hates it and wants to be a comedian. Forced into med school by his father (a doctor), he never really applies himself and is soon booted out. Thing is, he has a natural talent for comedy, something his family refuses to see. Next we have Sally Field, timid, under appreciated, over worked, wanting more ~ well, face it, she's a wife and mother ~ who has a little spark, not an entire flame yet, but no support from her family either.

The two meet up at the Gas Station, a local club for would be comedians. Fields approaches Hanks, who she considers brilliant, for advise, but he rebuffs her thinking as others do she is not serious about her career. Eventually hard knocks and perseverance change her and she even rates a chuckle from Hanks.

This is really a unique movie. While we have been in the back rooms of other professions, we really have not had the look before into the making of a comedian. I found it interesting. Guess I always foolishly thought they were born funny and just opened their mouths and started earning a living.

Hanks and Fields were superb in their roles. Fortunately they do possess a comedic flair as well as their dramatic side. There was a good interaction between them despite their age differences with just enough sexual overtone to keep you guessing. John Goodman, as Fields husband, was wonderful. You both loved him and hated him, wanting him to give her more support and understanding but also feeling his frustrations.

There are many touching and tender scenes in this movie as well - the hospital performance, the scenes between Fields and her family, when Fields wins the crowd (and Hanks) over with her act and the playful flirtation between Fields and Hanks.

For a movie dealing with comedy you would think it would be a little more light hearted but it is in fact dark and brooding. We are given a look at people supposedly possessing the gift of laughter facing the embitterment of their lives. The few snippets of the comedy acts help bring relief to the movie. It is, however, worth every minute of viewing.

Look for Mark Rydell, Michael Pollock and Damon Wayons.


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