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HTF REVIEW: "Mr. Saturday Night" (with screenshots) (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

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Mr. Saturday Night




Studio: MGM
Year: 1992
Rated: R
Film Length: 119 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)



"Don't get me started"
Another story about my father, if you don't
mind....
The greatest bond that my father and I had
while he was alive was our love for movies.
Dad grew up with and admired the films of
the 30's and 40's, while I grew up and
admired the films of the 60's to the present.
It always amazed me how much knowledge my
father had of film, and how much he and I
shared the same taste for much of the films
we watched during our lives together.

For the 5 years prior to his recent death,
he urged me to watch a film called Mr.
Saturday Night. It was a film that he
absolutely loved, and had bought it on VHS
shortly before I introduced him to DVD. I
had refused to watch it because of the fact
that it wasn't on DVD. I told my father that
the day it was released to the format, I would
finally watch it.
You can imagine my surprise when the DVD
showed up at my doorstep a few weeks ago.
Billy Crystal has taken Buddy Young Jr., a
character he invented on Saturday Night Live,
and turned him into the subject of his major
feature directorial debut.

Buddy Young Jr. is an aging comic who is part
of a dying breed of comics. It is the 1990's,
and Buddy is attempting to make a comeback while
he reminisces about his show-biz beginnings and
his glory days in the 1950s.
The movie repeatedly flashes back to various
points in his life - his first stage appearance,
his chance on the Ed Sullivan Show, and when he met
Elaine (Julie Warner), the woman he would later
marry. The film also explores the relationship
between Buddy and his brother Stan (David Paymer),
his manager and gofer, who became the butt of his
brother's whims and ego.

When Stan walks out on Buddy, it becomes an
uphill climb for the aging and long-forgotten
comic to make a comeback, that is, until he meets
Annie (Helen Hunt), an assertive agent that
desperately tries to breathe new life into Buddy's
career, despite having to deal with his self-
destructiveness.

The movie is wonderful!
Billy Crystal masterfully carries this movie
playing the prototype New York Jewish comedian,
spewing out hilarious one-liners in just about
every frame of the film. It's a story that not
only keeps you laughing throughout, but makes you
genuinely care for this character.
How is the transfer?
I love watching catalog product that looks this
good
on DVD. The transfer earns its gold stars
thanks to the immaculate condition of the source
material that has been transferred to DVD with
the smallest amount of imperfection.

What really shines in this transfer are the
colors that so vividly stand out throughout
the film. One of the most beautiful scenes in
the film takes place in a cabana at the lake,
where a young Buddy and Elaine first kiss. It
is a gorgeous sequence that is dominated by blue
lighting that just left a lasting impression
upon me. There is also the scenes that take
place in Central Park during Autumn, with all
the beautiful fall foliage that looks more natural
than muted. Even the red coat that Buddy wears
so brilliantly stands out amongst everything
around it.
Though not presented in 5.1, the Dolby Digital
surround is quite active, with rears giving nice
support to the film's action. The applause of
the audience can be heard in the rears, as
the crowd in an airport or the sounds of the
family in the kitchen. There always seems to
be some sort of rear activity present, and it
becomes a nice ambient presence to this film.
Special Features

A nice assortment of added material has been
included on this DVD.
To begin with, there is a feature-length commentary
by Billy Crystal and David Paymer.
Three Featurettes are presented for your
enjoyment:

The first, The Buddy Young Jr. Story, begins
with Billy Crystal giving us some background on the
creation of his alter-ego. Starting on HBO in the early
80's, we see footage of Billy's stand-up routine that
introduced his character. Though no footage is included
of any of the Saturday Night Live material that followed,
we jump ahead to 1986 as we watch a hilarious clip from
an HBO special, Don't Get Me Started, with Rob
Reiner interviewing Buddy Young. This short featurette
ends with Crystal and co-star David Paymer having a
great time playing off one another.
(length: approx. 5.5 minutes)
See What we Did? explores the question,
When did you first know you were funny?.
Billy Crystal answers that question as he
reminisces about his childhood and how he first
entertained in front of his parents. Many of
his own childhood experiences closely resemble
those depicted in Buddy Young's childhood. David
Paymer talks about his audition for the film,
and the phone call from Billy Crystal that changed
his life. You got to hear this funny phone call
story for yourself! Billy continues to dominate
this featurette as he talks about how he was
inspired to recreate some of the film's visual
effects from watching them done in other films.
How about Jerry Lewis's cameo in the film?
Crystal reveals how some off-camera clowning
by Lewis was secretly captured to be used in
the film. A very nice personal look at Billy's
most personal project ever.
(length: approx. 24 minutes)
Watching Frank Sinatra in Pride and the
Passion gave filmmakers an idea for the
Make-Up that was to be used on Billy
Crystal to show age progression. David Paymer's
father was the reference point for his character's
age progression. Through many still shots, we
see both actors having make-up applied.
(length: approx. 5 minutes)
Billy Crystal (today and 10 years ago) personally
introduces deleted scenes that did not make
the final cut. Some included scenes:
* A continuous steady cam shot that was to be
the original opening of the picture, but the
backstage antics just went on too long.
* Buddy performing in concert at the Catskills.
There are some hilarious material here that you'll
enjoy seeing for the first time, including a joke
about circumcism.
* Buddy trying to get a laugh out of his agent
* A wonderful scene at Mom's funeral, where Annie
(Helen Hunt) meets Stan (David Paymer), and the
two discuss the things that really make Buddy tick.
(length: approx. 19 minutes)

A side-splitting gag reel that is worth
the price of this DVD alone, is a must watch!
Truly one of the funniest DVD gag reels I have
watched, these cuts filled with film flubs, will
have you smiling ear to ear. All of this is
highlighted by some great flubs featuring Crystal
and Jerry Lewis.
(length: approx. 8 minutes)
The film's Theatrical Trailer rounds
out the added material on this DVD.
Final Thoughts
It took me 5 years to watch a film that became
one of my father's all-time favorites. Watching
Mr, Saturday Night, I can see why this
film made such a personal impression upon him.
It's a very funny story about a very funny fictional
comic that breathes through the talents of the
very funny Billy Crystal.
I wish my Dad was around for me to tell him how
much I enjoyed this film.
Please take the opportunity to at least rent
and watch this DVD. It can also be bought on-line
for about $11. Now there's a no-brainer!
Release Date: June 4, 2002
 

Marc Colella

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Jun 19, 1999
Messages
2,601
Thanks for the review Ron.
IMO, Mr. Saturday Night is a very underated film.
I also found it to be very enjoyable.
It's good to hear that it has a fine transfer, and the amound of extras is pretty decent.
You can't go wrong with this purchase, especially since it's going for $17.99 CDN at Futureshop.
BTW, thanks for the capture of Julie Warner. Anyone else think she's just so damn adorable?
 

Jesse Skeen

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Apr 24, 1999
Messages
5,029
Wow, this FINALLY gets a widescreen release! It was on Polygram DVD a while ago in pan and scan; I bought the laserdisc (also in pan and scan) for only $3.88 at Camelot Music.
 
M

MaxY

Ron,
Yes it is an Under-rated Favorite of mine for years. I thought Billy, And Helen Hunt both did an excellent job in it but that David Paymer kind of stole the show.

Sorry to read the sad story about your dad and never have seen the movie with him. I know that lines from this movie get quote between me and my dad all the time.

Jesse,
I remember getting the LD and being bummed it was not widescreen.

Max
 

Stu Rosen

Second Unit
Joined
Jan 27, 1999
Messages
305
With no offense intended to Ron or his dad, I must say that I thought this was one of the most fascinatingly awful films I can ever remember seeing. Fascinating because, as a comedy, it actually modeled itself on Raging Bull -- the hero's self-destructive tendencies, the stab at redemption.
Awful because, unlike De Niro's Jake La Motta, Billy Crystal actually wanted you to like and sympathize for this complete louse of a human being. Crystal exhibited that cringe-worthy side of his persona -- the almost boundless hunger for the audience's affection.
I found the film lifeless and self-satisfied. This was clearly Billy Crystal's shot to be taken seriously, and I thought he crashed spectacularly.
Disc sounds nice, though...:)
 

Philip Hamm

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Jan 23, 1999
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I can't think of this film without remembering the hundreds of copies at every LaserDisc store that carried cutouts for $1.99 each. Nobody bought them even at that price.
 

Moe Dickstein

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Must say that I loved this one from the first time I saw it, and was one of the laserdiscs I revisited time and again.

Didnt see the specs on this one before - but add Widescreen, Commentary and the Gag Reel in addition to the wonderful deleted scenes from the LD (and VHS even I believe)

and im SOLD (in addition to UHF and SOB, previously today was going to be an Initials only DVD purchase day - no problem, ill call this one MSN!)
 

R. Kay

Second Unit
Joined
May 11, 1999
Messages
308
I think its a damn shame you couldnt watch this film when your father was alive.
I'm all for Widescreen/Anamorphic viewing, but I think your reasoning, considering your dads request, is pretty lame.
:frowning:
 

Jason Harbaugh

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Joined
Jul 30, 2001
Messages
2,968
After reading this thread I went out and bought the DVD and just finished watching it. I used to have a VHS copy of it but I hadn't seen it in such a long time.

It is a great underrated film with alot of great one liners.

Thanks for the review.
 

DanHaya

Second Unit
Joined
Nov 4, 2001
Messages
294
Ron,
Thanks for the great review! I've always liked this movie as well. I always try to catch it when it's been on cable or regular tv. I'll definitely be getting my own copy...it sounds like the added value materials really make this disc a bargain!
BTW, I agree with Marc about Julie Warner! She was (and still is) is a babe! It's well worth the price of admission to grab a copy of Doc Hollywood just to see her come out of the lake! ;)
--Dan
 

Bruce Hedtke

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Jul 11, 1999
Messages
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I know this film has been bagged since it first came out, but I just have a soft spot for Mr. Saturday Night. I thought it was well acted, David Paymer in particular and the jokes just keep on coming. Thanks for the splendid review and this has been ordered from the get-go.
Bruce
 

David Lawrence

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Mar 15, 2002
Messages
77
Thanks for the review Ron; this was a title I passed over, but after reading your review I think I'll pick it up.
Another fan of Julie Warner here; it's a great shame that there's not a proper version of Doc Hollywood on DVD, a movie that is one of my favourite romantic comedies :frowning:.
 

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