PunchLine (1988)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 18-Sep-2002

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Trailer-Sleepless In Seattle; Philadelphia
Trailer-Multiplicity; Nothing In Common
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 117:34
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (69:30) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By David Seltzer

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Sally Field
Tom Hanks
John Goodman
Kim Greist
Paul Mazursky
Mark Rydell
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Charles Gross

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Every film I've ever seen that looks behind the scenes at stand-up comics is maudlin, making them out as tragic people. Perhaps this is because of the serious jealousy we feel towards those who can make us laugh? Perhaps this is because only tragic people feel a need to perform as stand-up comics? Perhaps both?

This film is no exception it focuses on two of the stand-up comedians performing at The Gas Station, a comedy club: Steven Gold (Tom Hanks) and Lilah Krytsick (Sally Field).

Steven Gold is a medical school drop-out with serious personality problems. He can be funny on stage, but his off-stage life is a disaster.

Lilah is wife to an insurance salesman (John Goodman), and mother to three girls. She is keen to be a success as a stand-up comedian. The first performance of hers that we see is truly dreadful. Her husband isn't impressed. He would much rather she stayed home and looked after the family. One of the funniest, and yet saddest, sequences in this film is her performance of "instant dinner for guests at home".

It's rather amusing seeing John Goodman playing straight, and Sally Field playing comedian. Tom Hanks is too versatile to play against type. They work well together, each turning in an excellent performance.

In fact, we do see quite a few fragments of stand-up performances, and there are some major crash-and-burn cases amongst them. One of Tom Hanks' efforts is very sad. Oh, there are some very funny performances, too you will find yourself laughing out loud at times. But there's some real pathos too. Don't approach this film expecting it to be hysterically funny from one end to the other. You'll be disappointed. This is a drama about the people who make the laughs, rather than the laughs themselves.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. As far as I can ascertain, this is the correct aspect ratio.

The picture is just a little soft for most of the film, with one noticeably less focussed patch for a few seconds around 51:00. Shadow detail is not fabulous. There's significant grain in some of the low-light shots, such as around 46:59. There's no appreciable low level noise.

Colour is adequate, but it's mostly drawn from a fairly dull palette. There are no colour-related artefacts.

There are a variety of light-weight film artefacts, and a few nastier ones, like the bright blue scratches on the film at 9:19. There is frequent aliasing, but it is very low-level. There's a tiny amount of moire, and some background shimmer.

There are subtitles in many languages, including English. I watched the English subtitles. They are quite accurate, easy to read (fairly small), and perfectly timed.

The disc is single sided and RSDL-formatted; the layer change is at 69:30. It comes in the middle of a scene, but it is surprisingly smooth, and not especially obvious. I'm a bit surprised, really, because this transfer looks like it has been compressed a bit too far that's my opinion as to the reason for the softness of the picture.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


There are five soundtracks, including English in Dolby Digital 2.0, surround-encoded. I listened to the English soundtrack.

The dialogue is easy to understand. There are no audio sync problems.

The score, from Charles Gross, has some ironic moments, and generally does a good job of supporting the events of the film.

Your surrounds get next to nothing to do with this soundtrack. They do add a little bit of depth to the sound, but that's all. No signal is directed to the subwoofer.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


The only extras on this disc are four fairly irrelevant trailers.


The menu is static and silent.


About all these trailers have in common is that Tom Hanks is in three of them.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 1 version of this film includes both full-screen and widescreen versions of the film, which suggests that they will be even more compressed than ours. It has no additional extras. I'd suggest the Region 4 disc is likely to be better, even though it's not fabulous.


A film about the lives of a couple of aspiring stand-up comics, on a less-than-perfect DVD.

The video quality is good.

The audio quality is good.

The extras are nothing to do with the film.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, December 08, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS905V, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Martin F (read my bio)

Comments (Add) NONE