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Mr. Saturday Night

review by Zach B.


Rated R

Starring Billy Crystal, David Paymer, Julie Warner, Jerry Orbach, Helen Hunt, Ron Silver

Running Time: 119 Minutes

Written by Billy Crystal, Lowell Ganz, Babloo Mandell

Directed by Billy Cyrstal


Retail Price: 29.99

Features: Theatrical Trailer, Cast and Crew Bios

Specs: 1.33:1 Pan and Scan, 2.0 Dolby Surround English, English Closed Captioning, French Subtitles, Chapter Search

Billy Crystal is Buddy Young Jr. (Crystal), an aging comic with a long and serious past behind him. It seems the world has forgotten about him, as Buddy has trouble searching and getting gigs. His brother Stan (David Paymer), however, is tired of it all. Stan is Buddy's manager, in fact, he's a lot more than his manager and brother. Stan has always taken the backseat, as his brother always got in the way of things of which Stan wanted, but never really went for. Yet the main problem with Buddy is that he always seems to screw himself. As we flashback between the present and past, we learn about Buddy's rise to a famous comic, and everything behind the scenes with his family and assorted troubles. However, Buddy is soon offered a role which could very well save his career. Is he going to screw himself again?


"Mr. Saturday Night" isn't so much a movie about one person's rise and fall, but more about relationships. Buddy's relationships between his wife, his daughter and especially his brother (as well as other people) are pretty complex, but I think this is what makes the movie so good. As we see Buddy fighting constantly with his brother or trying to bond with his daughter (in a sense), we see the nature and sides of the characters, and we learn they aren't so one dimensional as they do appear to be. These also build onto the character and story development of the film, which is always a plus.


Upon its original release, "Mr. Saturday Night" was overlooked by audiences and critics alike. Most criticized Crystal's directing debut and the whole movie itself. However, I really enjoy this movie. I think Billy Crystal's direction is incredibly good, especially for a first time director. As we all know, many great actors out there try their luck at directing, and a good majority of the time, the results aren't so good. Still, Crystal succeeds in creating a great atmosphere. However, not everything is perfect. I did find it a bit of a stretch to see the characters age in a ton of makeup, and he uses tired and predictable techniques. When we first see his young daughter watching her father perform and say a joke about her, we close up on her as the normal "oh my daddy doesn't care how I feel and I am deeply affected by it" music comes on. But don't get me wrong, Crystal succeeds everywhere else. The performances are top notch, especially by David Paymer as Crystal's brother. The chemistry between him and Crystal is remarkable, and in my opinion, some of the best to ever grace the screen. Luckily, Paymer was rewarded for the role, scoring an Oscar® nod for Best Supporting Actor. I could not imagine anyone else in the role, and if there was someone else, I don't think the movie would be as good as it is with Paymer. The script is also pretty solid, which was written by Crystal with Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, the team behind "City Slickers", "EDtv", "Splash" and more recently, the adaptation of "Where The Heart Is". The script is filled with some great moments and funny jokes, but there are also many Jewish cliches in there.

If you have never seen "Mr. Saturday Night", I highly recommend you rent it. Billy Crystal's directorial debut is very good, and he showcases it in an excellent and funny movie. It's also a showcase for all of Billy Crystal's talents, and once again proves just how good of an actor and funnyman he is.


This is where I am most disappointed with the disc. Polygram, who has the rights to this film (sadly), has given us a pan and scan transfer in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Man, I really wanted widescreen for this film (well, that's how I like all my films. I would have even taken non-anamorphic!). It's quite a shame. Actually, I don't think this movie has ever been released in widescreen. As far as this transfer goes, it's above average, but with a little extra care, it could have been great. Detail is really nice and colors are solid, but you can see compression artifacts here and there. But what really annoyed me is the many specks and artifacts throughout the film. It's not just a few, there are many. Yet despite the flaws, it's a decent pan and scan transfer.


"Mr. Saturday Night" features a 2 channel English Dolby Surround track. This movie doesn't really need 5.1 since it's really dialogue driven (but I always love 5.1 and would have liked to see what this movie could do with it), but there are actually some really nice surrounds throughout the film. Most noteable is toward the start, where Crystal and Paymer are eating Chinese food, and there's a storm outside. You would swear there was thunder or rain pouring behind you. It's dialogue driven alright, but there are some good surrounds which make up for the lack of 5.1. French subtitles are included, but more annoying, there is only English closed captioning.


Nothing special. A theatrical trailer in full frame and four filmographies. What annoyed me about the filmographies is that they don't even have them for the main characters so much. Jerry Orbach, who's hardly in the movie, has one and David Paymer doesn't. Oh well.


A very good movie, but this is a very disappointing release. No widescreen, decent picture quality, nice sound and a lack of extras. I really hope New Line and Castle Rock gets the rights back to this movie somehow... this film is in desperate need of a special edition (or at least a Billy Crystal commentary). This disc is region free, which is good, but if you're thinking of picking it up, you might as well do it as soon as you can. This title has been discontinued, and chances are really slim of it being re-released into a special edition, which it highly deserves.

(4/5, NOT included in final score)




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