Punchline DVD cover art

Film:
DVD:

Written & Directed by: David Seltzer
Starring: Tom Hanks, Sally Field, John Goodman, Mark Rydell and Damon Wayans

Released by: Columbia-Tristar
Region: 1
Rating: R
Anamorphic: Yes

My Advice: Own it.

Lilah Krytsick (Field) is a housewife who lives in Jersey and who’s dying to make it as a commedienne. There’s just one problem: she has no natural talent for comedy. She is on the verge of having to choose between her family and her passion to be a funny lady. When Steven Gold (Hanks) enters her life, it turns out that they each have something that the other needs. He is the funniest man at the club where they both perform, the Gas Station, and she’s got the means to help him from having his life completely falling out from under him.

Hanks and Field together on screen are just sheer magic. They listen to each other so very well and Hanks could not be funnier. This is the movie that should have told the world that he was going to be the mega-star that he is today. In hindsight, you can watch the film and see the power of all of his most recent stellar performances. The scene when he’s about to get discovered by the network executives and he completely breaks down on stage is one of the finest scenes that has even been put on celluloid. And it’s no surprise that Field can keep pace with him–not just because she’s a brillant actress in her own right, but because she was perfect for this role. But what makes this movie work is the irony that to work the comedy circuit can be anything but funny. It’s a very touching story about two people looking to fill the voids in their own lives, but are too self-consumed to realize that it’s staring them right in the face.

This DVD is a disappointment when stacked up against the film it’s carrying. The only thing that even remotely resembles a special feature on this disc is the fact that you can choose between widescreen and fullscreen presentations. And of course, no one in their right mind would watch a film in pan-and-scan when they have a choice not to. What we should have seen are some interviews with Hanks and/or Field (and even Goodman if they had really wanted to). There also should have been a commentary track from the director. However, we get nothing attached to this movie in the way of supporting material, which is a shame–it really is an underrated gem.

If you call yourself a movie fan, you’d better have this movie on your shelf. And, if you never seen it, go buy it. Now. But be prepared, if they ever produce some kind of special edition, to chuck this one in favor of the later, greater release.

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