There’s a certain genre of commercial that’s gained in popularity in recent years. Generally, these ads are done in the style of a beloved film, and often feature several cast members from the project in question. At a time when “is this familiar IP?” is an existential question in the entertainment industry, it’s not that strange to see commercials that feel like sequels to Groundhog Day or Die Hard on the airwaves.
Still, there’s a fine line between an homage to a classic film and an ill-advised desecration of a movie’s reputation. Evidently, rideshare company Uber is aware of this; as IndieWire reported this weekend, Uber denied reports that it was working with Robert De Niro on an Uber commercial that would find De Niro reprising his Taxi Driver character of Travis Bickle.
As Variety reported, Robert De Niro is working with Uber — but in a series of U.K. ads, in which he will presumably play himself. Representatives for De Niro also clarified that De Niro would not be playing Bickle in the ads. One assumes that Taxi Driver screenwriter Paul Schrader — who was understandably horrified by the initial reports — is feeling some relief right about now.
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There’s a reason that most riffs on Taxi Driver in the wake of Taxi Driver have come in the form of jokes about the implausibility of revisiting the world of Taxi Driver. (Saturday Night Live has one memorable entry in this canon.) The idea of a Taxi Driver-themed rideshare ad sounds like the kind of thing that would work brilliantly as a punchline in a show business satire like BoJack Horseman — but would be far less effective in real life.
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