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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Punchline
Directed by David Seltzer
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment 09/88 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R

This comedy revolves around aspiring stand-up comedians. Steven Gold (Tom Hanks), a medical school drop-out, is a naturally funny man. Lila (Sally Field), a New Jersey housewife with three children, is married to an insurance salesman (John Goodman) who is dead set against her comedy club appearances. Steven and Lila meet at the Gas Station, where amateur comedians try out their acts and are paid fifty dollars a set. The competition among them is fierce, and they're all yearning for a big break which will catapult them into the big time. Seeing that Lila's comedy doesn't really fit her very well, Steven lets her hang around him. At a hospital, he entertains patients and staff with jokes and bits which grow naturally out of their experiences. Then he watches with pride as Lila tries out his approach at a comedy club. The only problem is that lonely Steven has fallen in love with his middle-age student. Tom Hanks gives a fine performance and the scenes revealing his vulnerablity are emotionally affecting. Sally Field is delightful as Lila, a woman who finds out what it feels like to be triumphant on the stage and special at home with her family. As he did with Lucas, director David Seltzer has made a movie that engages us with its distinctive blend of humor and heartbreak.

 

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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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