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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Billy Crystal

The Comedian (2017)

Isn’t stand-up comedy supposed to be funny?

Jackie Burke (Robert De Niro) has seen better days. He was once the star of a much-loved sitcom from the 70’s, hit the stand-up circuit as one of the biggest, loudest and meanest shock-comics out there on the scene, and yeah, he had a whole bunch of love and adoration from people in his world. However, time went on and eventually, the rest of the world sort of forgot about Jackie. Nowadays, he’s forced to work for the nostalgia circuits, playing to small crowds, filled with either hapless teens, or barely-there senior citizens. Jackie realizes this and because of that reason alone, tension builds up within him, more and more. One event goes bad when Jackie beats up an audience-member filming and heckling him, leaving Jackie to have to serve out a some jail time and community service. While on community service, he meets Harmony (Leslie Mann), a troubled gal who gravitates towards Jackie and his ways. But she doesn’t really know what’s underneath all of the jokes, and he doesn’t really know what’s underneath all of her beauty, either.

Ladies love those has-beens! Especially the ones without money, right?

Ladies love those has-beens! Especially the ones without money, right?

The Comedian is a perfect example for what happens when you have a good cast, and that’s about it. The plot, the jokes, the heart, the humor, the meaning – just about everything about it is odd and doesn’t quite work. But man oh man, whenever they’re given the chance to do so, the ensemble here tries with every bone, every fiber, and every material of their body to make this material work.

And because of their effort, and because they’re all good, yes, they do help the Comedian out a whole bunch. Does that mean it’s a good movie? No, it does not. But it does help make a very bad movie, slightly less worse than it could have been, with less talented and committed people involved.

And this doesn’t just go to the cast, either – behind the cameras is director Taylor Hackford, who hasn’t always had the best track record, but does have more hits than misses, and four writers, Art Linson, Jeff Ross, Richard LaGravenese, Lewis Friedman, all of whom seem to know what they’re doing in their own, respective projects. But for some reason, they just didn’t quite know what to do here; it’s as if they signed on to do a movie about comedians and late-aged ones, but ended up just telling one too many dick, fart and sex jokes.

And oh yeah, the jokes themselves are pretty lame, too.

If there’s one big no-no in movies about comedians, it’s that the comedy you’re selling us on, in the first place, has to be funny. Like, does anyone remember that subplot in Mother’s Day where the British dude wanted to be a comedian and strutted his stuff out on the stage, told really awful jokes, and everyone in the movie was laughing at him, as if he was some sort of godsend? Well, if not, don’t worry, because you didn’t miss much. But if you did see that, then you get an idea of just how the Comedian is – not really funny, even though no one seems to have told it so.

There are the occasional moments of actual humor, but it’s mostly because of Jackie’s brand of comedy – he’s the kind comedian who Stern would have had on his show every day, just going as deep and as far into the dirty talk as either of them could. If that’s your brand of humor, then yeah, a lot of De Niro’s jokes will work perfectly for you and hit the mark, but if not, well then the jokes will just continue to be more and more grating as they go on. De Niro’s character gets grosser, meaner, and far more idiotic, making us wonder whether anyone involved knew what actual humor was in the first place?

"Get it? Fart!"

“Get it? Fart!”

Or, at the very least, just how stand-up comedy worked?

And then it goes on. The movie then tries to deal with romance, drama, and almost attack the showbiz industry itself, but it just never makes sense, mostly because a good portion of it can be unbelievable. Jackie goes viral at least three times, none of them ever making sense, or seeming as if they could happen in the real world that the Comedian seems to inhabit. It’s odd because it seems like everyone involved behind the cameras are so out-of-touch, you almost wonder just how long this script was sitting around on the shelf for, never got looked at, and collected up dust.

Probably a lot and yeah, it shows.

But like I said, the cast really does help this movie out, a great bunch. De Niro does what he can in the lead role; he’s deliciously mean and cruel when he wants to be and it works, but the jokes just ruin him. De Niro’s line-delivery feels awfully too stilted to make it sound like we’re hearing an actual comedian on the stage, and not just an actor reading lines and forgetting where the punchline is. Still, when he’s off the stage, De Niro is compelling, as we get to see a sad, old man for what he is: Sad, old and kind of miserable. This character and this performance deserve a way better movie, which is why it’s hard to just accept this one for what it is, as poorly-written as it can sometimes be.

Then, there’s everybody else. Leslie Mann is charming, despite her character having some awfully weird baggage going on that’s never fully explained; Harvey Keitel plays her controlling and generally creepy father who is way too over-the-top, but has some fun scenes with De Niro; Patti LuPone shows up as De Niro’s sister-in-law to yell at him and get in his face, which is fun; Danny DeVito plays his brother who basically does the same thing; Edie Falco plays his manager and has nice chemistry with him; Charles Grodin shows up as a rival who’s barely around; Cloris Leachman shows up as this sort of aging Lucille Ball character and is fine; and yeah, there’s many, many more cameos from all sorts of real life, well-known comedians. It makes you wish there was more of them and less of the scripted jokes, because lord knows the Comedian would have been, well, funnier.

Consensus: Try as it might, the Comedian just doesn’t have enough juice to make itself funny, relevant, sad, important and interesting enough, even with the talented ensemble helping out as much as they humanly can.

4.5 / 10

"So yeah, when's Marty going to get going on this Irishman movie, so we can stop doing stuff like this?"

“So yeah, when’s Marty going to get going on this Irishman movie, so we can stop doing stuff like this?”

Photos Courtesy of: Kenwood Theatre

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Deconstructing Harry (1997)

Screw too many women, trust me, you get screwed, too.

Harry Block (Woody Allen) has had a pretty crazy and unfortunate life. He’s been with many women, has made many mistakes, and has a lot of opinions that don’t always make him the most popular guy in the room. And now, he’s gaining fame and fortune off of all of that by putting into a new book of his, one that people love, with the exception of the few he’s actually writing about. Most of the women from his past have disowned him, which depresses Harry to a great degree. However, the only thing keeping him alive and well is the fact that he has a son, who he knows will have a bright future. Also, Harry finds out that the university that once kicked him out, now wants him back for a ceremony to honor him and all of his accomplishments. This gives Harry an idea: Take his son with him on this trip and allow for all sorts of fun and adventure to occur. Little does Harry know that he’s kidnapping his son to go along for the ride with him, along with the likes of a friend (Bob Balaban) and hooker (Hazzelle Goodman).

Way more loyal than Annie Hall.

Way more loyal than Annie Hall.

Due to the fact that Woody Allen likes to make a movie almost every year, a lot of people tend to get on his case. Obviously, some movies are better than others and, especially as of late, it appears like some of them aren’t even worth watching, but because they’re movies by Woody Allen and feature great talent in front of the screen, people can’t help but see what he’s got cooking up next. After all, a bad Woody Allen movie is at least better than most of what we seem to get out there, right?

Well, either way, where it seems like some of the issues with Woody releasing a new movie every year is that the movies tend to all follow the same formulas, ideas and themes of all of his movies. They’re mostly all lighthearted affairs that have to do with dysfunctional families, Judaism, forbidden love, sex, writing, poetry, classical music, jazz, or anything else of these natures. They’re all very similar and it honestly makes me wonder why Woody himself doesn’t bother to go deeper and darker with himself, or his material.

Cause, honestly, Deconstructing Harry is that perfect example of what Woody Allen can do when he decides to throw all caution to the wind and just not appease to anyone. While some of themes and ideas may be the same from before, here, they’re much more darker and sinister; rather than appearing to play for the big and broad laughs, Woody’s going for something much more meaner and angry, where it appears that he does in fact have an ax to grind.

Who is he grinding it at/for?

Well, no one in particular, but it allows for Deconstructing Harry to be better than most of his other flicks, because it proves that the guy actually has a point. He’s not just making a movie because he’s got the budget, the stars, and an inchworm of an idea that he’ll decide to play around with after the first-half – nope, this time Woody is going for the kisser and not apologizing for it. This is all to say that Deconstructing Harry is quite funny, but in a far different way that makes me feel better about Woody Allen, the writer – his jokes aren’t necessarily played-up for the smarter people of the crowd, but more for anyone who appreciates a good joke when they’re given one.

It sounds so stupid in hindsight, but honestly, good, consistent humor in a Woody Allen movie can sometimes be hard to find. Sure, every once and awhile, you’ll get a sly or witty line passed by some character here and there, but here, Woody’s throwing out jokes left and right. Do they all work? Not really – the whole bit involving Billy Crystal as the Devil could have probably bit the dust in the editing-room – however, the moments where the comedy works, it really works and is worthy of a big, howling laugh.

Focus on the finer things in life.

Focus on the finer things in life.

Yes, I know, it sounds stupid, but trust me, it totally matters.

But it’s not like Deconstructing Harry is better than most other Woody Allen movies because it’s darker and funnier (although, those are two attributes that help it), but because what Woody himself seems to be talking about is interesting. Harry Block’s life is such a whirlwind filled with heartbreak, anger, resentment, and controversy, that writing about it, gets him into hot water with those around him and eventually, he alienates himself from the rest of the world. Clearly, Woody seems to be channeling his own, inner-most demons and it’s neat to see play-out, as Woody himself definitely feels guilty for hurting the people that he’s hurt in the past, but also knows that the same hurt that he’s caused, is the same kind that’s brought him so much fame, fortune and respect in the biz.

So yeah, Woody’s talking about himself a lot here, but it works. Woody himself is quite good in the movie, but really, he’s meant to let others do all the work for him and show that they’re worthy of being here. People like Tobey Maguire, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Robin Williams, Stanley Tucci, Demi Moore, Kirstie Alley, and others, don’t have a whole lot of screen-time, but are still funny and well worth their short time here. Why none of these people have bothered to show up in a Woody Allen movie is beyond me, but then again, maybe they, too, don’t want to waste time on something that’s going to just be “mediocre”.

Then again, neither do I, and I still can’t stop watching his movies.

Consensus: With a darker, more energetic edge, Deconstructing Harry shows a meaner side of Woody Allen that we hardly ever see, that’s both funny and interesting.

8 / 10

Everyone loves Woody. Except obvious people.

Everyone loves Woody. Except obvious people.

Photos Courtesy of: A Woody a Week

Monsters University (2013)

Now how much is a red cup going to cost?

Before they became pals working at Monsters Inc., Sully and Mike (John Goodman and Billy Crystal) were just your ordinary college student. They were young, ambitious, hopeful, happy, and willing to allow anything to happen, just as long as they finally had a chance to get their dream job. However, what some may be surprised about is that they weren’t friends right from the beginning and actually found more things to dislike about each other, than actually like. But through certain bits of challenges and obstacles, they will come together to realize who’s scarier, who’s wiser, and why they don’t like each other in the first place. Oh, and it’s also at a college so mind you; there may be some underage drinking involved.

Ending on the note that Monsters, Inc. did back in the day, it’s an honest surprise that they didn’t go forward with the sequel instead. We do like these characters and we would like to visit them again, but does it really have to be a prequel, especially one that takes place on a college-campus? I didn’t think so, but Pixar seems to really be scrounging the Earth for ideas, so it’s no surprise they re-hashed something that they knew would win over the older-crowd that still gives them money, day-in-and-day-out, thinking that they’re going to see the next Wall-E or Toy Story; as well as the new crowd that’s probably expecting something like Brave.

Those youngsters. What silly little creatures they truly are.

"Dammit, Mikey! Don't you dare mention the name "Boo". She doesn't even exist yet!"

“Dammit, Mikey! Don’t you dare mention the name “Boo”. She doesn’t even exist yet!”

However, I loved these guys so much in the first place that I wasn’t so depressed in seeing them when they were younger, more hopeful monsters, but at the same time, I wish the movie did more with the idea/premise. Basically, it’s just Revenge of the Nerds/Animal House, but with Pixar, so hold all of the f-bombs, the kegs, the nudity, the hardcore partying, drugs, sex, and pretty much everything else you’d come to expect and see with college, or a movie that revolves around college. That said, it’s a kids movie so I can’t complain about how mild and tame the material is, but I can complain about how unfunny the idea plays-out, which is a major bummer because Pixar has been known to take something, anything familiar to the common-brain and spin in it on it’s own head, with their own smart way. Sadly though, this wasn’t one of those “smart ways”.

The movie gets you with a couple of chuckles here and there, mostly through random references you may or may not catch, but overall, it’s a pretty dry experience. Nothing with this humor catches you off-guard like Pixar has been known to do, and is a lot more slapstick-y than it has been in recent years, mainly to get the kiddies laughing and happy. Which, once again, is dandy and fine, but what are the parents supposed to do? Just sit there in near-misery as their kiddie-bops laugh their rumps off by some monsters falling down a flight of stairs? Well, I guess so, but knowing Pixar the way that I do and sticking by them for as long as I have, I’ve come to expect more from them and know that they are about making the little tikes laugh, but also the older-peeps that brought them to the theater as well. Plenty of kids were howling like crazy at my screening, but the adults that surrounded me couldn’t really go along as it was just for them, and nobody else.

Poor parents. You deserve better. Except for when those innocent children all turn 14, then you’re dead to them!

But where Pixar really picks up the slack in is with it’s heartfelt message that is usually supposed to make the kiddies think, and touch the parents as if they were little ones as well. Actually, you could even go so far as to say that it’s Pixar’s strong-suit: if the comedy doesn’t work, get them long and hard with a message for everybody all over the globe to listen and feel something towards. However, what separates this flick from those others is that it’s message does not seem to really click with me as much as I would have expected, and I don’t know if that’s the flicks fault, or of my own.

Basically, the message is that all kids should not really set their standards too high, because if you live life long enough, you know that all of your dreams aren’t going to come true, but to also still settle for mediocrity. Personally, I believe that telling a kid that they should not believe in their hopes and dreams is bullshit because they’re kids and what else are they going to dream about, and also, I think telling them to settle for any sort of mediocrity is just plain and simply wrong. When the kids become older and begin to realize that the world isn’t going to hand them everything they want on a silver platter with a cherry on top, then I would say is the time to let your dreams go away and settle for whatever you can get. But when you’re a kid, and just about anything is possible, with your whole, bright future ahead of you, then I think you should stick to your guns, live the wild and young life you want to live, and if it doesn’t pan out the way you want it to, then big deal. Just don’t get yourself down when and if it does in fact happen.

However, that’s just me though, so maybe other parents want their kids to think the way this movie is telling them to. If that’s the case, it’s their prerogative, but mine is that kids should be themselves and be able to keep their dreams afloat, regardless of what the real world tells them is reality. Hey, I was a kid once too, and I had dreams. They sure as hell weren’t to become a movie critic of sorts, but they were dreams that I at least went for until I realized they had gotten too far for me to even grasp. That’s just the reality of the situation, but I can understand why some parents wouldn’t want their own kids having to go through with that themselves. Call it “babying”, call it what you will. It’s just life, man.

"I pledge to scare the shit out of every boy and girl in the world."

“I pledge to scare the shit out of every boy and girl in the world.”

No matter how far into mediocrity this flick went, the glue holding it all together was Sully and Mike, voiced terrifically once again by Billy Crystal and John Goodman. Together, they make a great team and even though I don’t fully believe their obviously-adult voices as ones of college freshman, I was still able to enjoy myself and be reminded of what these guys were like in the first movie (which still ranks as one of my favorites as a kid, and still holds up for me, believe it or not). They’re fun to watch together, by how different and alike they are, but also by how they come together in ways that are believable and easy to understand, especially when you know what these guys are at the beginning of the first movie. I didn’t need to see these characters on the big-screen, but it wasn’t such a bad trip down memory lane once more.

Steve Buscemi also returns as Randy, who actually has an odd twist here that makes you understand why he is the way he is in the original; Helen Mirren plays up her “ice queen”-act as Dean Hardscrabble, the one and only monster who holds the all-time record for most scares, ever; Nathan Fillion is awesome and bad-ass, even with his voice, as Johnny, the head brother of the biggest fraternity on campus; and Joel Murray does an effective job as the older, but equally as goofy member of the frat, Don, who shows some chops for comedic-timing. And trust me, there is plenty, plenty more recognizable voices, and even some faces (I’m talking about the actual characters), that you’ll hear and/or be happy to see.

Consensus: Despite not being a flick we really needed to see after the original ended so perfectly almost a decade ago, Monsters University is still a pleasant, enjoyable movie for the family, but seeing as this is Pixar and knowing what it is that they can do with their originality, it does come as a bit of a disappointment, especially for most die-hard fans, if there are such people.

6 / 10 = Rental!!

Like us all, Mike Lisowski too dreams of having the greatest time of his life in college and getting that one job he oh so desires when he leaves. But this is 2013, and those dreams and hopes of a college freshman have all been dashed by now. Sorry, Mikey.

Like us, Mike Wazowski too dreams of having the greatest time of his life in college and getting that one job he oh so desires when he leaves. But this is 2013, and those dreams and hopes of a college freshman have all been dashed by now. Sorry, Mikey.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)

I really do hope that none of my lady friends know the real reason as to why I always answer their late calls at night.

Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Meg Ryan) debate during a trip from Chicago to New York about sex and friendships between men and women. Eleven years later, they’re still no closer to finding these answers but are a lot closer to each other than they ever expected.

Can a man and a woman be friends? Or does sex get in the way of that? These are two obvious questions that this flick brings up and I think the solution of it all is pretty clear: yes.

Director Rob Reiner and writer Nora Ephron were definitely on the same page here when it came to meshing these two elements together, because it’s just about perfect. Ephron’s script is very good as it covers a lot of questions and themes that usually come up between a man and a woman, especially with relationships as well. There’s plenty of insight into the minds of two normal, everyday human beings that just feel very true and believable even if it does come from the minds of a whole bunch of Hollywood heads. The film is also very funny and made me laugh a whole bunch because it focuses on relationships in a funny way, but also shows them in a way that makes you rethink all of the relationships you’ve ever been in and may soon be in for the near future.

At the heart of this film though, is the friendship between Harry and Sally. At first, they both hate each other and make it obviously seem like they could never be friends but we stop by on them every time they spot each other every once and awhile, and each time the conversations are funny as well as biting. They both start to become friends, even best friends at that, and I think that’s where the film really won me over with was that I could believe these two as friends and maybe even as lovers. The conversations these two have with each other about relationships, sex, divorce, ‘Casablanca’, and so many other things, all feel real and what would be discussed between two people that are very good friends and will tell each other anything and everything. Reiner definitely did a great job with focusing on these two throughout the whole movie but also not forgetting let the points about relationships from Ephron hit as well.

What I did think was a bit strange about this direction from Reiner was the little interviews from elderly couples that have their own love stories to tell. For some reason they would just pop-up in this flick out of nowhere and some stories would be funny, sad, and even a little heartwarming but they didn’t really need to be here. I get that Reiner was trying to show how love can just come up and find you and your muse at any time in life, but I didn’t feel like it was suited well for the material they had here and instead it just showed that Reiner didn’t know how to transition between scenes very well. It’s my only complaint though so I can’t be too hard on him and this film.

The reason why this film works so well the way it does is because of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan‘s performances as Harry and Sally. Crystal is very, very funny as Harry and uses a lot of the sly humor he uses in ever film and also when he hosts the Oscars. His dramatic chops may not be the best skills he has to offer, but he at least gets by on showing us a very funny and believable character that you could probably walk by on the street and talk to for hours on end about anything. Ryan also is very good here in her own way as Sally and she shows a great divide between humor, heart, and beauty that fits together so perfectly. I don’t usually like Ryan in a lot of stuff (except for ‘In the Cut’, which is for obvious reasons ;)…..) but she won me over here with a female romantic lead that wasn’t stupid and knew just how ridiculous and over-dramatic she could be at some points. Together, they’re a perfect pair because they have such funny and believable interplay that it’s hard to take them as anything else but best buddies. This script was great to begin with but because of these two, it got a hell of a lot better in my book.

Consensus: When Harry Met Sally may fall for the same rom-com cliches we always get, but the smart and true script, mixed with two honest and likable performances from Crystal and Ryan, make this one of the better rom-coms I have seen in quite some time.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

RIP Nora Ephron, you will truly be missed.

Analyze This (1999)

Robert being funny and Billy being serious. Now there’s a turn out for the books.

When Paul Vitti (Robert De Niro) needs help dealing with his role in the “family,” unlucky shrink Dr. Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal) is given just days to resolve Vitti’s emotional crisis and turn him into a happy, well-adjusted gangster.

I love good old mobster movies, especially mobster comedies. But the sad thing is that there hasn’t been many actual good ones, but this one is different. Cause it is actually good.

The screenplay of this film is it’s real strong point. There is a lot of spoofing of mobster films, as well as mobs in general, and it all works so well, because it really does have you laughing. There are several one-liners here that I’m still somehow quoting, and that’s the great thing about this film. How I can still quote it with a smile on my face, is always good.

My only problem with this film is that it isn’t breaking much ground here. Yeah, it’s trying to spoof the mafia itself, but it never actually gets anywhere different than just a spoof. I was expecting a little bit more heart with this screenplay, but what I got I still didn’t have a problem with.

Robert De Niro plays the wiseguy we all know and love him as, and here he is nothing short of hilarious. He plays this wiseguy so well, that a lot of his scenes just seem so genuine. De Niro has always been acting like this, but it never has gotten old, and he still does a knock out job with this material, as he always should. Billy Crystal is also very good basically playing Woody Allen, but that’s not a bad thing. He’s serious, but at the same time goofy, and adds a lot of realism to this role that brings a lot to the film. These two have perfect chemistry and when their on-screen together, you can tell that their actually buddies off the screen, because they get along so well. Let’s not forget to mention Lisa Kudrow as Crystal’s wife, and Chazz Palminteri, as well as Joe Viterelli as some of the other mafia wiseguys.

Consensus: It’s nothing incredibly new, but the laughs are rich, and the great performances from the comedic cast, makes this all a very enjoyable treat.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Monsters, Inc. (2001)

No matter how old I get, this film will always have a safe place in my heart.

Pixar pitches another computer-animated classic with this family-friendly tale about the professional scarers of Monsters, Inc., who sneak into children’s bedrooms at night to elicit screams that they convert into energy to run their world. Life is fine for top scarer Sulley (John Goodman) and his assistant, Mike (Billy Crystal), until a little girl named Boo accidentally finds her way into the monster world — and into Sulley’s heart.

When I was a kid, I remember always watching this movie with my family, and everyone else. But for the most part, I haven’t seen this in quite some time, and this film still does not disappoint.

This is basically a G-rated film for the whole family. Anybody can watch it, moms, dads, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, hell even babies can. The script is funny, like most Pixar film’s scripts are. There are plenty of little winks, and jokes centered at adults, but it’s not to the point as to where the kids won’t laugh. Sometimes you can catch both laughing, which is a great thing after all. The visuals are also very fun to watch because they move from one visual, to another and create a great sense of fun.

But the main reason why this film works so well, is because it’s message is so heart-warming when you think about, mainly because the way it plays out in this film. So many points in this film will make you go: “awwww”, but also many parts will have your children know it’s alright to be scared sometimes, but it’s always nice to laugh every once and awhile too. Great message for the whole family.

My only slight problem with this film is that it really isn’t perfect, but hell, not all films I expect to be perfect. Especially this one, considering they were just bouncing back from Toy Story 1, and 2.

Billy Crystal does a hilarious job at giving this little eye-ball, Mike Wazowski, a lot more personality than you would expect from this odd creature. He brings out plenty of one-liners, with his signature delivery, and brings plenty of laughter to the screen. John Goodman is also very good here as Sully, that shows the deepest voice, can create the most loved characters. You can tell that these two have great comedic timing, as all their jokes, may not be perfect, still work cause they can do comedy the right way. Jennifer Tilly shows up, and is pretty funny, as well as Steve Buscemi, Bonnie Hunt, and James Coburn.

May I add that the ending here is probably one of the most underrated, great endings of all-time. It fully brings out a lot of emtoion, and maybe some tears, if your lucky enough.

Consensus: Fun, heart-warming, and suitable for the whole family, Monsters, Inc. brings a lot to the table, and has you watching as this nice, family animation film stuns you.

9/10=Full Pricee!!!

Mr. Saturday Night (1992)

Made me think that Billy Crystal is actually hilarious.

Actor-director Billy Crystal gives a searing portrayal of fictional comic Buddy Young Jr., a classic borscht belt stand-up comedian whose skills can’t sustain a career undermined by his acidic self-loathing. A character study with bite, Mr. Saturday Night features the underrated David Paymer as Buddy’s loyal, long-suffering brother and Helen Hunt as the new agent reluctantly assigned to Buddy.

This is Crystal’s directorial debut and it kind of suits him very well. He, himself is a comedian, that also went through the same things his own character has gone through as well.

The film is directed with a lot of sure inspiration. Crystal weighs out the film between truly hilarious moments, and than some actually nice touching dramatic scenes. Many people upon first view will think its a gut-busting comedy, instead its more of a character study of how much fame can actually make you go over your head.

The one major flaw with this film is its main character, and mostly the writing. Crystal does some of the writing in this film and you can tell when he’s ad-libbing, but the problem was that his character was too off-the-walls. We didn’t know on whether to love this guy cause of his huge sense of character, or hate him cause of all the mean and cruel things he says to other people in such a demeaning way. Also, the film doesn’t prove any insight to his wife’s own character. Throughout the whole movie she is basically a one-note character, cause the only scenes she does stuff in is when she is saying she loves him. When in reality we have no idea of why this chick loved and has loved him for so long.

Crystal does give a wonderful performance here as Young Jr., and matches a lot of his hilarious stand-up comedy, as well as his emotional scenes. I feel like Crystal, the actor, is too likable as a whole and is hard at trying to convince us he can be such a deauche bag. David Paymer is very good here as his brother who never loses the screen when he and Crystal are on, he provides more of three-dimensional character than you would expect.

Consensus: Crystal’s directorial debut is impressive, with nice touches of comedy and drama and good performances, but its writing isn’t as up to date, especially with its characters.

8/10=Matinee!!!!

Deconstructing Harry (1997)

Sometimes Woody Allen can be such a trip.

Self-absorbed novelist Harry Block (Woody Allen) sees his literary chickens come home to roost after he pens a roman à clef that offends, enrages and alienates everyone in his orbit. The film’s sterling cast also includes Elisabeth Shue as Harry’s ex-girlfriend, Kirstie Alley as his former spouse, Bob Balaban as his best pal and Judy Davis as the erstwhile sister-in-law who wants to murder Harry.

The central plot features Block driving to a university from which he was once thrown out, in order to receive an honorary degree. Three passengers accompany him on the journey: a prostitute, a friend, and his son, whom he has kidnapped from his divorced wife. However, there are many flashbacks, segments taken from Block’s writing, and interactions with his own fictional characters. The random cuts between fact and fiction may confuse some but once you understand the characters who are real and fake, then you’ll get the story.

A lot of this is taken from Woody Allen’s own life as sort of an autobiographical take, and I must say this is probably one of his most challenging, tragic, and mature work to date. This film still has his great writing that is witty and packed with many of his smart ideas about his own personal life and overall everything else in the world. There is a lot of dirty talk which I was very surprised about coming from an Allen film, and I think he hits the mark on how he uses his art to connect.

The jokes I had a huge problem with though, and its that it isn’t the smart way Woody Allen uses his jokes. Its too much about the stereotypes of Jewish people, and black people that kind of got old by the third act. Also, the joke of how Robin Williams was always out of focus was funny at first then they used the joke probably about 14 more times to the point where it became an annoyance.

The best thing about this film is its leading performance from the always great Woody Allen who basically takes this lead role, and make it into a real-life person. He captures the confusion, and depression of his characters life, and always seem real. Except that his character is such a dick and has messed his life up so much that its kind of hard to root for him and enjoy him when he’s on-screen. The film has a lot of good side performances but nothing memorable, except for probably the Billy Crystal who uses a lot of ad-lib between him and Allen, and is a great thing to see.

Consensus: Woody Allen doesn’t make his best work with Deconstructing Harry, but surely one his most mature work. Too many jokes seem out-of-place, and over-used, but with enough smart writing and a good central performance from Allen, its a pretty difficult enjoyable trip.

7/10=Rental!!

Throw Momma from the Train (1987)

God, I even wanted to throw that momma from the train!

When struggling mystery writer Owen (Danny DeVito) realizes that he and his teacher, Larry (Billy Crystal), are both slowly going crazy thanks to the women in their lives, he gets a great idea: He’ll kill Larry’s devious ex-wife if Larry offs Owen’s domineering, overbearing mother. Expect classic black comedy after Owen fulfills his end of the bargain — and Larry’s stuck without an alibi!

The film takes inspiration from the Hitchcock classic film Strangers On A Train, where the perfect murder is where 2 complete strangers exchange murder victims.

The film acts like a black comedy, but isn’t all that dark at points. Yeah, it talks about murder and death, which is a dark subject, but many of the other things that happen or joked about aren’t very dark.

With this film you would expect to have been hilarious, when really its only slightly funny. Some jokes seem forced, and some are just too obvious and not very funny after all. It doesn’t have that hilarious satirical look, and feel you would expect from a film of this nature.

Instead, we get a lot of these little whimsical tales, which I thought were the best parts of the film. DeVito does a great job at directing showing himself as this pathetic young kid, who still cannot seem to get any respect from his mama. At times, the film played as it was more cute than it was more dark.

The cast does an OK job as playing their respective parts. Crystal, who I admire, is all around the place screamin, yelling, and just going insane over nothing and doesn’t make any sense in this performance. DeVito does a great job at playing this child-like man who you actually do feel pity for. But the best here is Anne Ramsey who plays Momma. She is so ruthless, and cranky that it is actually where a lot of the comedic element for this film comes from.

Consensus: DeVito’s directorial debut is impressive with some funny moments and OK performances from the cast, but doesn’t have enough humor, and has Crystal acting as a madman for no reason.

5.5/10=Rental!!!

City Slickers (1991)

Mid-life crisis’ have never been so fun. I can’t wait for mine, but instead of going to a ranch im going to Cancun and swim forever in the lake and maybe nobody will find me.

Three male friends, facing their 40th birthdays and experiencing midlife crises, decide they need time away from their “soft” city lives. They decide to vacation at a dude ranch, where they will be responsible for a two-week-long cattle drive through the Colorado hills.

This film is not the funniest thing you’ll ever see, but it does have a lot of heart that blends in with the comedy real well. The themes of age, love, and most of all friendships are all discussed and in a very tender but humorous way.

The trio of Crystal, Kirby, and Stern all do a good job of capturing the personalities of late 30 year olds who are trapped in their own worlds and dislike much in their life and do not want to fade away. But Jack Palance who plays the creepy and elderly cowboy Curly steals the show with his distinct toughness towards everyone on the trip and also gives some valuable life lessons that Crystal takes very dear to himself. Also director Ron Underwood keeps the movie at a steady pace so it dosent become too boring.

There wasn’t as much as comedy as I was expecting but the story is a great tale and has some important outlooks on life that all should follow.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!