Rupert Pupkin lives with his mother. He’s probably about 40 and unemployed. He wants to be a famous (the key concept of this film) comedian but his schtick is about as knee-slapping as an open grave. No matter. He thinks—no, he KNOWS–he’s funny and that’s all that counts. Haven’t we been told our whole lives to do everything we can to make our dreams come true?
Rupert’s dreams are very precise and his drive to realize them akin to whatever the hell it is that powers battleships about the open sea. His pleasantly polite and utterly indefatigable persistence lead to one of the funniest lines ever uttered in the movies as his hero Jerry Langford’s manservant makes a panicked call to his absent boss after Rupert and his date show up unannounced at Jerry’s mansion “for the weekend” and start making themselves quite at home:
“Mr Rangford! They are touching things, they are ruining evwyting!!”
Mr. Langford appears posthaste, nine iron in hand, to personally see Pupkin off his property in a scene you could watch 100 times and never get tired of. But the joke is on him because this powerful man soon ends up completely powerless— wrapped head to toe in duct tape and entirely at the mercy of the impure fantasies of 6 foot tall gargoyle Sandra Bernhard. And so Rupert gets his wish and becomes famous.
It’s Scorsese at a supreme level he would only manage to hold onto for a few more films. DeNiro is a congenial monster; Bernhard downright frightening. Jerry Lewis puts in his best acting job ever and yes, I’ve seen The Caddy.