The life of Buddy Young, a comic legend in flashbacks but an old man looking for work in the present.
Life imitates art and art imitates life in this 1992 film called 'Mr. Saturday Night' that starred Billy Crystal. Not only did he star in the film, but he co-wrote and directed the movie as well, which earned him and actor David Paymer Golden Globe nominators and even Oscar nominations. What I imagine is semi-autobiographical on Billy Crystal or any number of professional comedians in the business, this story follows the life and career of a successful comedian named Buddy Young Jr. (Crystal), who rises to the top of stardom, only to fall from grace due to his unsavory personality and treatment of his friends and peers.
It's something we've seen time and time again over the years with many celebrities. Even though this film was nominated for a bunch of awards, it wasn't met with the most positive words from critics, and audiences didn't flock to it as well. I think the main reason is that the character of Buddy Young Jr. is so abrasive and very rarely shows his redeemable qualities that it's quite difficult to root for him through the film, even though you want to. 'Mr Saturday Night' doesn't stick to a specific timeline really, but rather jumps in time throughout Buddy's life, from when he was a child, doing standup for his family in their living room to hosting his own variety show, to even being on the Ed Sullivan Show, and eventually in feature films.
Throughout this journey of his ups and many downs, due to his rash personality and inability to treat people well, he is accompanied by his brother/manager Stan (Paymer), who looks up to his brother. Buddy never treats Stan with the upmost respect and eventually the two part ways, which is just one of the relationships that Buddy sets fire to. In most cases, Stan is the protagonist here and not Buddy as Stan is always the good guy on screen, trying to deal with his brother's fatal flaws.
Every now and again, we get a small glimpse of Buddy showing his soft inner core, but it never lasts, which ultimately keeps him from staying on top of his career and even drifting away from his own daughter and wife. The film is more melodramatic than comedic, although there are several laughs throughout, but the flashbacks to Buddy's life sometimes seem inconsequential and out of the blue, as they don't really pertain to the story or seem to show why Buddy is the way he is, but rather it just shows the effects of his harsh personality, instead of seeking out the origin of it.
Still, 'Mr. Saturday Night' is a solid film in that Billy Crystal put a piece of himself out in the world with a story that was near and dear to him, and it still holds up today. With amazing performances from Crystal and Paymer, along with a ton of comedic cameos throughout the film, this movie still delivers the goods.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Mr. Saturday Night' comes with a 25GB Blu-ray Disc and is Region A locked. There is an insert from Olive Films that promotes other releases from the studio. The disc is housed in a hard blue plastic case.
'Mr Saturday Night' comes with a 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It seems this is a new transfer from an old master. Perhaps an old DVD version in this case, because this transfer isn't as sharp as it should be. Overall the image is quite soft, never providing "Crystal" (I'm sorry) clear detail, even in big closeups. That being said, some of the crazy makeup effects and blemishes can be seen quite easily, even to a fault. Wider shots also look a bit soft as well, never giving the image any depth, even when Crystal is on stage.
There is a layer of grain that has a yellow tint to it as well and seems to fluctuate here and there. Colors never really pop off screen, although, there are some excellent colors during the 1950's segments. Black levels are mostly deep and inky, but sometimes they tend to bleed. The skin tones are natural as well. There are some issues with minor banding and video noise, but other than that, all other problems are non-existent.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 2.0 MA mix and sounds very good, considering the source and type of film. The biggest moments of the film are when Crystal is on stage and during the variety show sequences are on screen. This allows all of the channels and full sound effects and ambient noises to come full force. Each noise and effect are well balanced and layers, with some decent directionality.
Just don't expect a full immersive experience here as no sound comes from the rear speakers. Most of the time, the sound is only dialogue between a couple people, which is always clear and easy to follow. There were no instances of any pops, cracks, hiss, or shrills to speak of. The highs and lows are very good as well, leaving this simple audio mix with solid marks.
Audio Commentary - Billy Crystal and David Paymer give a fun commentary here as they discuss the making of the movie. This is very Billy Crystal centric as he talks about the script, casting, making the movie, and how it's held up through the years. He also gives us cameos through the film and does improvisations during the commentary.
Trailer (HD, 3 Mins.) - Original theatrical trailer is presented here.
'Mr. Saturday Night' could apply to a lot of celebrities, or in this case professional comedians. I'm sure there is a lot of truth here in the film that can apply to any number of comedians and even Billy Crystal, which is why he chose to write, direct, and star in the film. It was very close to his heart and it's evident on screen for sure. That being said, the character Buddy Young Jr. is just so abrasive with very little redeemable qualities that it was hard for audiences to connect to him. Still, all of the performances are top notch and sell this melodramatic movie with tender moments and a bit of comedy. The video and audio presentations are okay at best and the only real extra is a commentary track. Still, if you're a fan of Billy Crystal or these semi-autobiographical films, this one comes recommended!