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The Comic

PG 1969 1h 34m Comedy Drama List
67% Tomatometer 6 Reviews 57% Audience Score 100+ Ratings
A silent-film comedian (Dick Van Dyke) drinks, cheats on his wife (Michele Lee), bullies his buddy (Mickey Rooney) and makes a brief TV comeback. Read More Read Less

Critics Reviews

View All (6) Critics Reviews
Roger Greenspun New York Times It isn't a good movie but it is often an interesting one, and it is full of lovely people. Nov 19, 2019 Full Review Jack Goff Hollywood Reporter There are some good hearty laughs in the film and there are some genuine moments of pathos yet outwardly they never seem to blend smoothly. Nov 19, 2019 Full Review David Nusair Reel Film Reviews irresistible premise that's employed to erratic yet mostly rewarding effect by Reiner... Rated: 3/4 Oct 15, 2020 Full Review Dennis Schwartz Dennis Schwartz Movie Reviews It's the kind of pic that you wanted to be better than it turned out, nevertheless even if it lets you down there's enough that's fascinating to keep you tuned in. Rated: B Aug 3, 2014 Full Review Fernando F. Croce CinePassion Custard mixes with arsenic in Reiner's bright meditation on slapstick Oct 23, 2013 Full Review Ken Hanke Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC) It's hard not to admire the film for its peculiar tone. Rated: 3.5/5 Jun 2, 2008 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (6) audience reviews
Audience Member No matter how good or bad, there's a certain amount of respect and fascination I have for people in older films and music- so much talent prior to technology overload. Raw form. Not overproduced. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 01/15/23 Full Review Audience Member great acting and story which was based on many silent screen actors. A remake could be made today on how success can bring the worst out in people. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/18/23 Full Review Audience Member This was really good. Dick Van Dyke was awesome and Mikey Rooney was nearly unrecognizable but wonderful nonetheless. Great story with a good mixture of drama and comedy without being too heavy or silly. Very cool! Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/18/23 Full Review Audience Member A touching film. Sentimental at times, but the fact that it was written and directed by Carl Reiner and starred Dick Van Dyke (both of whom have a deep affection for the subject of the film) makes it worth seeing. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 01/27/23 Full Review Audience Member This is indeed a gem that few people have seen or heard of. The story itself is not new, but in my opinion was the best performance of Dick Van Dyke's career. The final 10 minutes of the story have remained with me for 40 years. See it if you can. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/14/23 Full Review Audience Member Movies about the life story of comedians are, paradoxically, rarely funny. Sure, films like [i]Chaplin [/i]and [i]Man in the Moon[/i] may feature great comedic bits from the actors they're biopics of, but the bipic, by nature, is a tale of ups and downs, in which the person's life, no matter how great it actually was, seems fraught with misery, regret and loneliness--three emotions I'm an expert at wallowing in. It's not that shocking then that [i]The Comic[/i], the life story of fictional silent comedian Billy Bright, is a pretty dark little movie. What's surprising is the people that put it together. It's written and directed by Carl Reiner and starring Dick Van Dyke, not exactly two names you'd expect to see in a film that's filled with pathos. Van Dyke does an excellent job as Bright, a slapstick master who seems like an amalgam of Harold Lloyd, Buster Keaton and Fatty Arbuckle. While a talented pratfall artist, Bright is, as typical Hollywood cliche goes, a womanizer and a drunk, much to the chagrin of his first wife and true love Mary (Michele Lee). The film begins at Bright's funeral, where a pie being thrown at the eulogist provides an odd introduction to the bizarro dark humor that follows. From the grave, Bright narrates his life story, from his start in pictures to his refusal to make talkies to his final days, and the only real continuing factor in his life is his best friend Cockeye, played by Mickey Rooney. The showpieces of the film are clearly supposed to be the films-within-the-film that Bright stars in, and they're excellent recreations of the type of two-reel vaudeville antics that prevailed in much of the early silent films. There's so many of them, however, that they come at a cost--some of the screen time these films get could have easily been used to fill in the gaps in Bright's life, of which there are many. The film skips quickly from Bright giving up on talkies to his wasting away in a tiny apartment, trying for a comeback, and some bridge between the two segments would have been much less jarring. Fortunately, Bright is an interesting enough character to carry it off. Van Dyke is an expert at playing the lonely, desperate character, and the structure of his sentences as he talks to his (now ex-)wife at her new house has the same frantic sadness that much of Shelly Levine's character does in [i]Glengarry Glen Ross[/i], to the point where you think David Mamet or Jack Lemmon might have watched this thing as a guide. In one of the film's final scenes, Van Dyke even gets a chance to play a second role, that of Bright's effeminite, fashion designer son, and he manages to play what could be a caricature with dignity while still playing Bright himself as looking at his son with, not exactly disdain, but confusion and regret. While too uneven to really be considered a great film, [i]The Comic[/i] is certainly an underseen little drama, and serves well as a melancholy love letter to the silent film era. It's worth seeing for Van Dyke's performance alone, though the supporting cast, which also includes Cornel Wilde, (briefly) Gavin MacLeod, Isabel Sanford, Mantan Mooreland, Steve Allen (as himself) and Reiner himself, is certainly good as well. Don't be fooled by the box art, which, like the original release, tries to sell this as a screwball comedy, and you're in for a minor treat. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/25/23 Full Review Read all reviews
The Comic

My Rating


Cast & Crew

Movie Info

Synopsis A silent-film comedian (Dick Van Dyke) drinks, cheats on his wife (Michele Lee), bullies his buddy (Mickey Rooney) and makes a brief TV comeback.
Carl Reiner
Carl Reiner, Aaron Ruben
Carl Reiner, Aaron Ruben
Production Co
Acre Enterprises
Comedy, Drama
Original Language
Release Date (Streaming)
Mar 2, 2021
1h 34m