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

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Jun 3, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    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
    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-
    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
    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
    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
  2. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

    Jun 19, 1999
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    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?
  3. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

    Apr 24, 1999
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    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.
  4. MaxY

    MaxY Guest

    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.

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

  5. Stu Rosen

    Stu Rosen Second Unit

    Jan 27, 1999
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    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...[​IMG]
  6. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

    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.
  7. MartinTeller

    MartinTeller Screenwriter

    Feb 26, 2002
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    Urge to... thread crap.... rising.... must leave.... now.....
  8. Moe Dickstein

    Moe Dickstein Filmmaker

    Jan 6, 2001
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    West Hollywood, CA
    Real Name:
    T R Wilkinson
    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!)
  9. R. Kay

    R. Kay Second Unit

    May 11, 1999
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    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.
  10. MaxY

    MaxY Guest

    Yeah I think I might just run out and buy my mom a copy of Snow Dogs now.

  11. Jason Harbaugh

    Jason Harbaugh Cinematographer

    Jul 30, 2001
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    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.
  12. DanHaya

    DanHaya Second Unit

    Nov 4, 2001
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    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! [​IMG]
  13. Bruce Hedtke

    Bruce Hedtke Cinematographer

    Jul 11, 1999
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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.
  14. David Lawrence

    David Lawrence Stunt Coordinator

    Mar 15, 2002
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    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 [​IMG].

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