Last Comic Standing: The Movie
Punchline is basically Last Comic Standing, the Movie, but 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. Supporting Sally Field, who plays a rumpled housewife whose life is boring until she decides to try going to comedy clubs and telling jokes and Tom Hanks as the emotionally disturbed but brilliant comic (now there's a novel take on a standup) is 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. Punchline 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 is a funny story, a funny movie, and has many funny jokes for a mature audience. It'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 funny in a 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, that is a good rent or a good buy and worth seeing again from time to time. Fans of Tom Hanks might have missed this one, along with Joe VS The Volcano, but it is definitely another great Tom Hanks performance in the kind of role one does not see him do too often. If you think you know how Last Comic Standing: The Movie ends, think again. More cannot be said about the ending.
In many ways, the contest that is the tying element in Punchline is how Last Comic Standing the fairly bland jokes by very bland generic comics tv show 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.