My Favorite Year

The broad Jewish comedy of this Mel Brooks-produced, Richard Benjamin-directed 1982 film is mainly used as a foil to the WASPish reserve of Peter O'Toole, who is very funny and very strange as an alcoholic movie star (clearly modeled on Errol Flynn) doing a guest shot on an early 50s TV program (clearly modeled on Your Show of Shows). Unfortunately, this promising idea turns out to be an elaborate cover for the same trite father-and-son forgiveness melodrama that American movies were pushing in the 80s, revolving around O'Toole's relationship with an admiring/admonishing young gag writer (Mark Linn-Baker). Benjamin's direction consists largely of giving Richard Benjamin inflections to most of the line readings; for the rest, he blandly shoots the screenplay, leaving large gaps in the narration unfilled and significant contradictions in the characters unexplained. With Joseph Bologna, Jessica Harper, Bill Macy, and Lainie Kazan. PG, 92 min.

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