Mr. Saturday Night (1992): Billy Crystal Directing Debut

I regret to report that comedian Billy Crystal’s feature directorial debut, “Mr. Saturday Night,” is a major disappointment.

Intermittently funny, the comedy contains some hilarious one-liners and some excellent routines, but the film 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

Crystal, a likable, personable comedian, albeit one with a limited range, is not nasty enough to portray the egotistical Buddy Young, who torments and abuses everyone around him for the sake of his own career.

The structure of the comedy–a series of flashbacks and vignettes about Crystal’s past and present–is both familiar and tiresome. In the film’s reel hour, there are too many emotional reconciliations, such as between Crystal and his long-time agent-brother; between Crystal and his daughter.

Back in l975, we thought that Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys, a better comedy about two aging vaudevillians, was sentimental, but Crystal’s pedestrian feature only indicates how much better it is.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Supporting Actor: David Paymer

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner was Gene Hackman for the Western Unforgiven.