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Buddy Young was the comic's comic, beloved by everyone. Now, playing to miniscule crowds in nursing homes, it seems like everybody but Buddy realizes that he should retire. As Buddy looks for work in show business, he realizes that the rest of the world has forgotten the golden days of Buddy Young, and that there just may not be room in the business for an old comic like himself. Written by
Michael Silva <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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This movie didn't get a big audience and it is a shame, but that's no surprise. It doesn't have the makings of a big box office hit. This is a hilarious film, and I laughed nonstop, but it's not entirely a comedy. It has a great human element. Not your usual Hollywood fluff. I mean, I enjoy comedies like "There's Something About Mary" that do virtually nothing for civilization, yet make you laugh out loud, but it's always a great incentive to watch a comedy that keeps its ear to the ground, that's down to earth. Few times have I watched a film that made me laugh so hard, yet touched my heart in the most poignant fashion. "Mr. Saturday Night" is a real gem!
I've always been a big Billy Crystal fan, but this is his best work ever! It's easy for a stand-up comic like Billy Crystal to co-write, direct and act in a movie about a stand-up comic. But the film also flaunts his range as an artist. Needless to say, it shows off his more serious side. I'm sure some elements of the story were inspired by his origins as an up-and-coming stand-up comedian. And he brings us into all aspects of this fictional comedian's life. What people tend to overlook is the fact that most comedians...don't live very happy lives. They may seem very jovial on stage, but what goes on off-stage is an entirely different story. Buddy Young (Crystal) doesn't have luck with family, friends or anyone in his life. Sometimes it is his fault, sometimes it's not. Sometimes the people in his life just fail to understand the real Buddy and his sort of mentality. I've heard several reviews stating that it's hard to get engaged in a film where the main character is an insulting, unappealing soul. I personally didn't find his character unappealing at all. Then again, I don't know Buddy personally. But I always enjoy watching movies about characters that are hated much more than movies about characters that are loved. What's compelling about a story about someone who everyone loves? If you watch a movie about someone who has his flaws, it gives you more to think about. Why does this person behave this way? Was there a pivotal moment that caused him to be this way?
But I can respect a man like Buddy Young. So his jokes are very negative. They're funny! Some may not prefer his type of humor; if you don't, that's your prerogative. All I know is I never seen a comedy that was so consistently funny. Often when I watch a movie where I get big laughs in the first act, the laughs wear out as the film goes along. When you make a comedy that starts out really funny, you have to keep that consistency. The upcoming gags have to be either just as funny or funnier. Never did I feel the comedy lagged. There's tons of lines and scenes that will stick in my mind forever. One absolute gem is a scene in a restaurant. Billy takes pieces of bread and does all sorts of impressions. For example, he takes two long pieces of bread, puts them on each side of his head and impersonates a Hasidic Jew. And later on, he impersonates an interview with a basketball player in the locker room, which is too racy for me to mention.
Here are some memorable lines:
"Hey, old lady. Moses called. He said you're a great f**k!"
(to an enormously overweight man) "You look like New Jersey in pants!"
(pertaining to Jewish food) "These are diseases with prices!"
David Paymer's Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor was very well-deserved! He delivers an incredible performance! Paymer often plays second banana to a group of great actors in the movies that he does, and this is one film where he actually had a significant role, even failing to be upstaged by the great Billy Crystal. Paymer delivers a powerful, subtle performance in which his facial expressions are much more compelling than the words he speaks.
The chemistry between Crystal and Paymer is excellent. Though they don't share much of a resemblance, they are extremely believable as lifelong brothers. I was raised an only child, but I'm sure many siblings can relate to their love-hate relationship. Crystal is the aggressive type, whereas Paymer is simply there to ride his coattails and criticize him. Buddy Young is not the perfect individual, but he has a strong personality, whereas his brother Stan secretly envies that strength and constantly fires his insecurities at him. There is a great scene, where Buddy reveals to his brother that Stan wishes he could've lived the same life, wishes he could've been the one who had the guts to perform on stage, wishes he could've been the one to ask Elaine (his current wife) out that time he hooked the two of them up. And though Stan doesn't agree with his brother, you know he agrees. He wishes he was as successful and had the guts to do what he did. And Buddy was simply doing him a favor by giving him a taste of what it's like to be a celebrity by letting him be his agent for many years.
The minor flaw: the overdone makeup job on Crystal in his later years. I felt the makeup jobs on Paymer and Julie Warner were done just right. Their aging is more convincing, whereas Crystal looks like Peter Falk in "Roommates." He doesn't look old, he looks like Billy Crystal behind loads of makeup. But Crystal delivers such a credible performance that it's easy to overlook that minor goof for most of the film.
Watching a film like this makes me feel that I wish there were more comics like Buddy Young nowadays. In one scene, Buddy watches TV and sees a guy--dressed like a hippi--telling all sorts of mindless jokes about drugs. He comments, "You call these jokes?" Exactly what I'm thinking. So many modern comedians just don't have that magic that comedians of the yesteryear had. And they play themselves out, depending too much on subjects involving sex and bodily functions. Buddy Young is like a cross between Don Rickles and Rodney Dangerfield. The kind of comedian that makes you laugh hysterically, no matter how many times you see him perform. Never does he run out of steam, just like Rickles and Dangerfield.
"Mr. Saturday Night" is like nothing you'll ever see! It's hard nowadays to find a comedy that's even funny. This is movie that's not only funny, but it's hilarious. And it's not only hilarious, but it's touching and powerful. A must-see!
My score: 9 (out of 10)
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