Punchline [1988]

At the height of the standup-comedy boom of the 1980s, this film offered the revelation that many comedians were, in fact, rather psychologically unstable individuals for whom performing was an outlet for hostility and aggression. Wow--who would have guessed? This film focuses on two who meet and forge an unlikely friendship: Tom Hanks plays a caustic, self-destructive comic looking for his big break and Sally Field plays a more Roseannelike comedian who begins neglecting her husband (John Goodman) and children because she gets such a kick out of performing. The offstage stuff is strictly soap opera, but Hanks and Field both develop solid comedic rhythms once they get behind a microphone. --Marshall Fine

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