Friday, January 6, 2012

My Favorite Year

My Favorite Year; comedy, USA, 1982; D: Richard Benjamin, S: Mark Linn-Baker, Peter O'Toole, Jessica Harper, Joseph Bologna, Bill Macy, Lainie Kazan

New York. Benjy Stone, actually Benjamin Steinberg, is a young, aspiring Jewish writer for a comedy TV show featuring Stan Kaiser. One day, their guest actor shows up, the famous movie star Alan Swann, but they are shocked to find out he is hopelessly drunk. Benjy risks his career when he insists on letting him perform tomorrow anyway, hoping he may keep him sober, which leads to numerous misadventures. When he finds out the show is broadcast live, Swann backs out, but changes his mind and gives a memorable performance.

A nostalgic comedy, "My Favorite Year" is an occasionally corny and 'staged' film, yet it exploits just enough charm to sustain its premise in the positive field thanks to the two main actors, Mark Linn-Baker as the clumsy Benjy and Peter O'Toole as the famous, but alcoholic actor Alan Swann, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar. In having Benjy basically babysit the irresponsible Swann, the story neatly plays with the perception of "the idol" the reputation and "the idol" the reality, as a flawed human, in the end letting Benjy become Swann's voice of reason. The movie is filled with jokes, not even hesitating to include goofy ones, too, with some turning out more successful than the others (the hilarious scene where Benjy kneels down in front of K.C. in order to "propose" to live with him, inside a women's toilet (!), all the while a lady is lamenting about his "kitschy" words and flushing the water; the line "Before your father passed away and eventually died..."; the line "Some people are naturally funny, like all of the Marx brothers, except Zeppo.") yet despite some omissions and insecurely executed moments, the emotional side to Swann finally trying to live up to his reputation gives "My Favorite Year" certain weight, Lainie Kazan has a neat supporting role as Benjy's mother whereas the movie has one of the greatest posters of its time.

Grade:++

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