Mr Saturday Night

(Billy Crystal, USA, 1992)


Billy Crystal's directorial debut Mr Saturday Night is a shocker.

With its relentless alternation of cruel comedy and maudlin pathos, its needlessly fancy jumping back and forth in chronology, its painful reliance on the verbal one-liner, its drawn out two hour running time, and above all its hopeless attempt to make us love a despicable central character, Crystal's film most closely resembles the contemporaneous Australian movie The Nostradamus Kid (1993). Both movies run out of energy and ideas long before the end credits roll.

Crystal is his own wisecracking star, playing a comedian whose routines carry him from the family lounge room to live television in the '50s and '60s, and on to a tawdry succession of clubs and bars in his old age. Mixed into the pathetic story of his showbiz comeback is the even more pathetic soap opera of his difficult family relationships.

As an amalgam of many famous Jewish performers (including Jerry Lewis, who makes a cameo appearance), Crystal's character provides amusing glimpses into the history of popular entertainment – but these glimpses are few and far between.

MORE Crystal (as director): Forget Paris

© Adrian Martin October 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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