Punchline is Last Comic Standing with funny jokes, funny comedians, and nothing sanitized for prime-time tv. It is a brilliant and funny behind the scenes look at the stand up world and life in local stand up clubs. Punchline is one of the films on the 6 DVD Comedy 20 Comedy Movie Collection from Mill Creek Entertainment. There is a list of all the other comedies at the end of this review.
Sally Field plays a rumpled housewife whose life is boring until she decides to try going to comedy clubs and telling jokes. Tom Hanks is the emotionally disturbed but brilliant comic (now there's a novel take on a standup). Punchline also features a strong cast of secondary characters who all have stars and fame in their eyes. There is the Carrot Top like prop comic, the old Borscht Belt veteran comic, the immigrant comic, and so on. This comedy is interesting not only because it gives you a behind the scenes look at comedy clubs and comedy club managers but also because of the funny dramatic tension between Tom Hanks' character and Sally Field's earnestly sincere housewife. John Goodman does a solid job in a pre-Dan Connor appearance as Sally Field's loveable bear of a husband who is a bit too old fashionned to understand what is going on with his wife but loves her enough to support her as best he can.
Punchline's only weakness, probably caused by some studio suit forcing a demographic study on the producers, is the scenes featuring Sally Field at home with her central casting kids. They are all cute, all loveable, all TV sort of way, and all a waste of time.
Still, any serious fan of comedy is familiar with Punchline and has probably seen it. It is one of those movies, however, worth seeing again from time to time.
In many ways, the contest that is the tying element in Punchline is how Last Comic Standing the fairly bland jokes by usually generic comics should have been set up. A real club, a one night opportunity, real comics, none of them generic or straight from casting central with the afterthought of how are these clowns doing to look on TV in case they win and we give them a sitcom deal.
The other movies included in Mill Creek Entertainment's Ccomedy 20 Movie Collection are:
Punchline (1988) / R Sally Field, Tom Hanks
Postcards from the Edge (1990) / R Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, Dennis Quaid
Hollywood Homicide (2003) / R Harrison Ford, Josh Harnett, Lena Olin, Lolita Davidovich
Hudson Hawk (1991) / R Bruce Willis, Andie MacDowell, Danny Aiello
The Freshman (1990) / PG Matthew Broderick. Marlon Brando, Bruno Kirby
Cops and Robbersons (1994) / PG Chevy Chase, Jack Palance, Dianne Wiest
Threesome (1994) / R Lara Flynn Boyle, Stephen Baldwin, Josh Charles
Wilder Napalm (1993) / PG-13 Debra Winger, Dennis Quaid, Arliss Howard
The Velocity of Gary (1998) / R Vincent D Onofrio, Salma Hayek, Thomas Jayne
Go! (1999) / R William Fichtner, Katie Holmes, Jay Mohr, Sarah Polley, Scott Wolf
Hexed (1993) / R Arye Gross, Claudia Christian
Jersey Girl (1992) / PG-13 Dylan McDermott, Jami Gertz, Sheryl Lee
The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human (1999) / R Mackenzie Astin, Carmen Electra,
The Suburbans (1999) / R Jennifer Love Hewitt, Craig Bierko, Amy Brenneman, Will Ferrell
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007) / R John C. Reilly, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows
The Brothers Solomon (2007) / R Will Arnett, Will Forte, Kristen Wiig
Just Add Water (2008) / R Dylan Walsh, Jonah Hill, Danny Devito
Can't Hardly Wait (1998) / PG-13 Ethan Embry, Seth Green, Jennifer Love Hewitt
High School High (1996) / PG-13 Jon Lovitz, Tia Carrere, Mekhi Phifer
Dancer, Texas - Pop. 81 (1998) / PG Breckin Meyer, Peter Facinelli, Eddie Mills II