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movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Comedian

Starring: Jerry Seinfeld, Garry Shandling
Director: Christian Charles
Rated: R
RunTime: 81 Minutes
Release Date: October 2002
Genres: Comedy, Documentary

*Also starring: Chris Rock, Colin Quinn

Review by Steve Rhodes
2½ stars out of 4

Like the fictional BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, Christian Charles's documentary, COMEDIAN, takes us inside other people's heads. The heads in question are those of standup comics who uniformly suffer from acute anxiety and insufferable insecurity. We follow two prime examples of these hard working funnymen, Jerry Seinfeld and Orny Adams, who clearly relish the opportunity to confess their fears to the camera.

The documentary's dingy look leaves a lot to be desired, with images lacking both clarity and warmth. Luckily the sound is acceptable so we can at least listen to the insights of both accomplished comedians and up-and-comers. Seinfeld, for example, explains that a comedian doing a new bit is like someone going to work in his underwear.

In addition to the off-stage interviews, the film includes many nightclub comedy routines. Watching Seinfeld deliver lame material to a very receptive audience makes one wonder why some jokes are deemed hilarious and others bad. In Seinfeld's case, he can get audiences to laugh at mediocre humor because his delivery is impeccable and simply because he is who he is.

Adams, an anal retentive with stacks and stacks of potential material, proves to be the more interesting, and grating, of the two comedians studied. He stacks up his papers like a squirrel storing up nuts for a long winter.

Like a comedian who starts off promisingly but then proceeds to flop, COMEDIAN runs out of steam after a half hour. Good comedians know when to make their exit. As a short film, COMEDIAN would have sizzled, but, as a full-length motion picture, there just isn't enough material.

COMEDIAN runs 1:21. It is rated R for "language" and would be acceptable for kids around 11 and up.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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