Life is a pratfall

Dick Van Dyke is silent screen star Billy Bright, posthumously narrating a familiar tale of early Hollywood self-obsessiveness. The film plays to Van Dyke's strangths - the pratfalls are, in fact, quite legion. Van Dyke really could have been one of those early film stars, in the vein of Chaplin, Keaton, and Lloyd.

The film aspires to greater heights than the sitcom heritage that Van Dyke and writer/director Carl Reiner bring to it. The results are mixed - for much of the film the humor is a distraction from more serious topics, but the final few minutes - without dialog - make for a poignant wrap up for Billy Bright's life.

I'm afraid The Comic is really only going to appeal to fans of Van Dyke - his skills are well displayed, but there's not a lot new that the film is giving us. Better to watch one of the biopics of the great silent stars I mentioned earlier.

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