"Scorsese's most underrated film. Twisted Genius."
Roger Ebert once said that this was the most painful movie he'd ever seen. I agree. Rupert Pupkin is one of the most horrid characters ever seen on film.Rupert Pupkin (Robert De Niro) is one of those folks that if you see in the street, you run screaming in the opposite direction. He is convinced that he is destined to be the greatest stand-up comic ever, and all he needs is the opportunity. He thinks he has found the opportunity when he meets Jerry Langford, (Jerry Lewis, but written for Johnny Carson) the biggest talk show host in Hollywood. Jerry vaguely promises to check out Rupert's stand up act, but there's a problem. Rupert hasn't actually performed anywhere. The only place he's performed is in his basement, where cardboard cutouts of Liza Minelli and Jerry act in Rupert's delusions of fame. But that doesn't stop Rupert. Rupert is more convinced than ever that he is going to be a star, and nothing is going to stop him. Nothing.
Scorsese and De Niro have always made fascinating movies, and this challenges the audience along the lines of "Taxi Driver". Rupert, like Travis Bickle, is a man wound way too tightly and we're convinced he's about to burst. De Niro is the king of playing these kinds of roles, and he is absolutely riveting in this movie. He is so absolutely annoying, so absolutely egotistical, that you just want to turn your head in disgust, but you're unable.
The supporting cast is excellent as well. Sandra Bernhard plays an equally obsessive fan, while Diahanne Abbott (De Niro's wife at the time) plays a waitress temporarily swept into Pupkin's life of delusion. Jerry Lewis plays the talk-show host effectively, and despite my loathing of Jerry Lewis movies in general, I found him very watchable in a serious role.
Rent this movie to see acting at its finest.A very, very black comedy that leaves current movies like "Very Bad Things" looking like a repeat of "Full House".