Mr. Saturday Night

I regret to report that Billy Crystal's feature debut as a director, Mr. Saturday Night, which is quickly dying at the box- office, is a major disappointment. The intermittently funny comedy contains some hilarious one-liners and a few excellent routines, but it is also suffused with excessive “humanism” and intolerable sentimentality. Who in today's movie market, you may wonder, would go to see a sappy tale about a declining comedian whose jokes are only funny to people over 70

Moreover, Crystal, a likable and personable comedian, is not nasty enough to portray the egotistical Buddy Young, who torments and abuses everyone around him for the sake of his career. The structure of the comedy–a series of flashbacks and vignettes about Crystal's past and present, is not only familiar but also tiresome. In the film's last half hour, there are too many emotional reconciliations: between Crystal and his long-time agent-brother; between Crystal and his daughter. In l975, I thought that Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys, a better comedy about two aging vaudevillians, was overly sentimental, but after witnessing Crystal's film I quickly changed my mind.