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De Niro tries his best, yet The Comedian falls flat; Eclipse Theaters illuminate downtown

Eclipse Theaters add a stunning new addition and film experience to Downtown Las Vegas (Ryan Stock | Eclipse Theaters)

THE COMEDIAN (2017)

Score: D

Rated R -- 120 Minutes

What ever happened to American film director Taylor Hackford, the former president of the Directors Guild of America? He won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film for TEENAGE FATHER (1979). He directed AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN (1982) and RAY (2004). RAY was nominated for an Oscar as Best Picture and Hackford was nominated as Best Director. For 20 years he has been married to Dame Helen Mirren.

More importantly, what ever happened to the distinguished American actor Robert De Niro? Seven times nominated for an Academy Award, he received Oscars for THE GODFATHER PART II (1974) and for RAGING BULL (1980). His long filmography includes TAXI DRIVER, THE DEER HUNTER, AWAKENINGS, CAPE FEAR, and SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.

Question: Why Hackford directed THE COMEDIAN (2017) is a puzzlement. Why De Niro agreed to star in THE COMEDIAN is an embarrassment.

Answer: There is a reason why a "January release movie" is released in January!

In the case of THE COMEDIAN, it is not De Niro's performance. He worked hard to master being an aging comedian who is desperate to save his career. And there are other terrific performances, especially coming from Leslie Mann and Danny DeVito. It is a project that was in development for almost a decade. The movie was shot in 27 days.

With a supporting cast that includes Leslie Mann, Danny DeVito, Edie Falco, Harvey Keitel, and Patti LuPone – you would have expected to see a great comedy. With cameos from Billy Crystal, Cloris Leachman, Charles Grodin, Gilbert Gottfried, Brett Butler, Jimmy Walker, and Bobby Rydell (yes, that Bobby Rydell) – they should have expected better material.

In fairness to all of the above names, there is nothing more subjective than the topic of comedy. Most everyone loves to hear a "dirty joke" every once in a while. But when a joke crosses the line and becomes offensive, that can turn off even the most die-hard fans of comedy. I submit to you that THE COMEDIAN crosses the line, and then some. Thus, the culprit for this critical review is the screenplay.

SPOILER ALERT: Senior citizens should find this film deeply offensive.

Mr. De Niro plays stand-up comedian Jackie Burke – who was perhaps one of the greatest sitcom stars in the history of television. Unfortunately, for Jackie and for many comics, fame is fleeting. And like so many comics today whose time has passed, he will take whatever offer comes his way.

Sometimes a joke can fall flat. In the case of THE COMEDIAN, you may walk out of the theater feeling great disappointment. The film is long. It seemed long at 90 minutes. That last half-hour is painful to sit through.

We still love and admire Robert De Niro. We cheered him on by his performance in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. The great actor was back, stronger than ever. We can only hope that he will eventually be given another role to play that, frankly, is deserving of his remarkable talent.

ECLIPSE THEATERS IN DOWNTOWN LAS VEGAS

The meaning of the word ECLIPSE has to do with light and illumination. That definition could not be a better description for the newest movie palace to open up here in southern Nevada. And what a welcome addition it is for our community and especially for the ever-changing face of downtown Las Vegas.

We all should pull for its success. It will not be an easy challenge. Ask yourself this question: When was the last time you actually got in your car and drove downtown to see a new movie? Could we insert the word "never" as the answer?

The new Eclipse Theaters – a "ground-up construction project" – are a stunning addition to downtown Las Vegas. With eight auditoriums of varying size, the complex was built to be a multi-purpose, upscale venue. It is perfect for local business and convention meetings, as well as private parties. All auditoriums include stadium-style luxury seating, with concierge delivery service of your food and drink.

For those either working or living downtown, there is the beautiful Eclipse Lounge, a bar and outdoor patio that is open to the public (as well as for those ticket-holders going to see a movie). It is a great place just to hang out at, with a pretty good food menu and an extensive selection of wine, beer, and signature cocktails available.

Eclipse Theaters is located at 814 South Third Street. There is indoor parking attached to the theater. For information, call (702) 816-4300.

PREVIEW OF COMING ATTRACTIONS

Next week, two anticipated films open in Las Vegas. JOHN WICK CHAPTER 2 and FIFTY SHADES DARKER.

It is always questionable whether or not a sequel is as good or better than the original movie. JOHN WICK (2014) starring Keanu Reeves was positively reviewed for performance, visuals, and action scenes. The film earned $86 million in worldwide sales.

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY (2015) was not positively reviewed on any level including actors Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson. However, after earning $571 million, not only is there a sequel, but FIFTY SHADES FREED (mostly filmed) will be released one year from now.


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