(Sally Field, Tom Hanks, John Goodman, Damon Wayans, et al / Blu-ray / R / (1988) 2017 / Mill Creek Entertainment)
Blu-ray Overview: Field stars as Lilah Krytsick, a New Jersey housewife and mother who desperately wants to make it big as a comedienne. Hanks plays Steven Gold, a self-centered Lenny Bruce-type who's been stealing the spotlight with his irrepressible, natural comedic talent. Drawn to one another, Steven helps the stumbling Lilah turn her routine from flat to funny, while Lilah helps Steven keep his anguished life together.
Blu-ray Verdict: Tom Hanks is absolutely brilliant as a former medical student who rebels and becomes a stand-up comedian. Hanks grants this movie with a heart and soul. His stage delivery is good but unfortunately hampered by really weak, unfunny material. In his acting, the sincerity, drive and passion for the job are strongly conveyed, as well as a fairly believable nature to his eventual love for Field's character. This performance, in my opinion, outshines much of his later work, including all of his Academy Award-labeled stuff.
Sally Field is miscast as a housewife who coincidentally decides to do stand-up. She is the weakest character of which I do not care about, nor will I ever care about. Her plight is totally meaningless compared to Hanks'. Her stand-up delivery is forced, and seemed too much like so-called acting. Yet she got slightly stronger material, and it confuses me so.
The pro comedians in this film are blindsided by crappy material. A few use their own stuff, but are still hurt by poor camera-work and bad editing. All of the acts should have been shot like a Richard Pryor concert movie. Incidentally, when not performing, all of the comedians are terrific actors. John Goodman is also superb as the supportive husband to Field. He brings a heart, charm and sensitivity to a thankless role, and makes it easier to view the moments when she's on screen.
Pre-dating Seinfeld's 'Comedian, 'Punchline' is actually a good look at the lives of a stand-up. However, when it should have been the funniest ever, in well-known fact, it is not. Everyone in the audiences was laughing far too much and way too loud. They may has well have been at the Apollo. It could have been comedy gold, but instead we got silt, sorry. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.