Once upon a time, when the Sevakis clan had a laserdisc player and nobody else in the universe did, we were in a shopping mall and noticed that a Tower Records up in Traverse City, Michigan was closing out their stock. They didn’t have much, but the movies were marked down to only $6.88 each. In today’s world of cheap DVDs at the drug store that doesn’t seem like such an amazing deal, but in those days we were used to paying anywhere from $35-50 on a single movie. Quite a premium, especially considering VHS was around $20, but it was a small price to pay for widescreen movies that looked better, had audio that didn’t crackle, and would never degrade.
So, we took home Mr. Saturday Night, the Billy Crystal vanity project wherein he tried to make the life story of a jerk post-vaudeville Borcht Belt comedian for $6.88 and a few horrible music video discs for $1 each. The music video discs were quickly relabeled and used as joke gifts to my other Laserdisc-wielding friends, but I was 14 or so and we enjoyed Mr. Saturday Night quite a bit. It had its moments, certainly. The disc ended up a permanent member of my LD collection.
Fast forward to today, when I am cleaning out my LD collection. Laserdiscs are big and heavy, and having just acquired a ton of new import Japanese LDs of rare anime, I needed to make room on my single shelf I have dedicated to laserdiscs and records. Many of my laserdiscs have since been replaced with DVDs and, having failed to become a collector’s item in any way, can be safely thrown out.
Anyway, I happened upon Mr. Saturday Night, and not remembering it so well, I popped it in my player. God almighty, what was I thinking? Billy Crystal in the old-person makeup looks like some horrible pulled back shiny robot — Paris Hilton in 40 years. The jokes are labored and painful. This movie makes me want to die.
It got good reviews at the time… Comedies tend to age poorly, and also when we’re young we tend to watch and appreciate everything with hardly a notion as to how terrible it is. I have to wonder which of these applies to Mr. Saturday Night. Funny, I didn’t have this question about Rock ‘n’ Roll High School Forever (with Corey Feldman).