Mr. Saturday Night Reviews
Mr. Saturday Night is not exactly a comedy, it is a film about a comedian. It cannot be denied that it is funny in parts, but at others it is also dramatic and sentimental. The tone is never precisely consistent, but there is always a sense of charm. The problem however is the fact that the plot structure does not become steady for a long time. Mr. Saturday Night largely features the same comic act repeated over the course of the story again and again. The film attempts to disguise this beneath the structure which jumps to several different points in the life of Buddy Young Jr., but this can prove frustrating because there is no steady consistency. As the film focuses more on its second act the structure ends up more stable, but until then everything is inconsistent in piecing together the story, largely because the story is a recount of the rise and fall of the protagonist from his later period in life. Frankly, Mr. Saturday Knight is an oddly structured reconstruction of the life of its titular protagonist which renders the notion of consistency rather ineffective. Ultimately, Mr. Saturday Night is a really scattered film, and for his debut as a director, Billy Crystal is not up to the challenge of handling a non-chronological plot sturcture with finesse.
However, his film is a strong debut because of how he brings his writing to life. As scattered as his film is, Mr. Satuday Night has a strong screenplay to it which has interesting characters and an undeniable sense of passion to it. I found that Buddy Young Jr. Was a funny character, but also that he was a very sympathetic one because as the story progresses we see his larger than life persona broken down in favour of his true identity as a human being. Though the structure makes this development inconsistent, the work of Billy Crystal works to ensure that the meaning is all there. The screenplay in Mr. Saturday Night explores the concept of Hollywood and what it is to be famous, as well as how it affects the relationships between father and daughter or brothers with both touching sentimentality and a sophisticated sense of humour about things.
The value in having Billy Crystal as the director of Mr. Saturday Night comes from the fact that the film is clearly a very personal project for him. Billy Crystal brings it to life with a sense of style as well with the colourful production design and costumes effectively conveying the time period of the film and its settings convincingly. The cinematography captures it all very nicely because the angles are very theatrical in the way they alternate between Buddy Young Jr. and his audience, therefore capturing the scale of his success. And during the more intricate dramatic scenes of the film, the shots get really close up with the faces of the cast as a means of capturing every little aspect of their emotional state, really challenging the cast to put a lot of character into their facial expressions. They work alongside it really well, and the entire time the musical score is able to illuminate their performances by emphasizing the atmosphere to the point that all the humour and sentimentality is brought out of the material very nicely.
Frankly, Mr. Saturday Night is a stylish film with characters that I really loved, and I credit the actors which making this statement true.
Billy Crystal's leading performance is what really carries Mr. Saturday Night. In the titular role, Billy Crystal keeps things consistently funny with a very charismatic peformance. He sinks so deeply into the role that the comic styles of the character come to him instinctively which he delivers without flinching. His voice articulation is very dedicated to ensuring that he presents the humour with his best level of spirit, and it really is a hilarious effort on his behalf. But Buddy Young Jr. is so much more than just a funny man, he is a human being with insecurities and flaws which he slowly shows more of as the film develops. This shows Billy Crystal balancing his talents for comedy with genuine dramatic passion, and it is a thoroughly beautiful performance. I haven't seen him do much, but I feel like this is one of the best performances of his career because he left me laughing and feeling for him too, and his chemistry with the surrounding cast. Billy Crystal's hard work as an actor under his own guide as director and writer of Mr. Saturday Night pays him a lot of credit, and it leaves me wanting to see more of his work.
David Paymer is also wonderful. Being one of the most important characters at the heart of the story, David Paymer is responsible for bringing a lot of drama into the narrative. In the role of Stan Young, David Paymer keeps the drama flowing through the way he approaches his character gently, conveying both a love for his brother Buddy Young Jr. and a sense of frustration at all the sucess and failure that Buddy Young Jr. drags him through as an agent. David Paymer's sensibly restrained approach to the drama makes the sentimentality of Mr. Saturday Night all the more valuable, and his chemistry with Billy Crystal is truly wonderful.
Julie Warner puts in a touching effort as well, and a young Helen Hunt works alongside Billy Crystal very nicely.
So Mr. Saturday Night is a rather scattered film in terms of structure, but the genuine passion from Billy Crystal as a writer and director brings the material to life while the performances of him and David Paymer ensure that the feature is ultimately both touching and funny.