Sally Field goes the Roseanne route in Punchline. Field plays a housewife and mother who suddenly develops the urge to be a comedienne. Her comic instincts are on target, but her timing and delivery stinks. Tom Hanks, a stand-up comic with a few years' experience under his belt, offers to teach Field the ropes. As they get to know each other, Hanks and Field begin to pick up on each other's shortcomings; though Hanks has far more talent than Field, for example, he has a positively ruinous habit of expressing his deep-down dislike of everyone else in the world, and this frequently alienates his audience. Writer-director David Seltzer times Punchline like a good joke; he continually sets up for the expected, then pulls a last-minute fast one, keeping the film lively and unpredictable throughout. The supporting cast, coincidentally including future Roseanne star John Goodman, is uniformly superb.
by Hal Erickson synopsis