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MEMORIES OF ME

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, Dec. 28, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: Among MVD’s titles on its new boutique Marquee Collection label is this Billy Crystal vanity project, making its Blu-ray debut. Here’s my review, published in the Deseret News on Oct. 7, 1988.

 “Memories of Me” is more than just sentimental and self-indulgent. It’s a blatant rip-off of another movie — “Nothing in Common,” which starred Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason, and which was a much better film.

“Memories” stars Billy Crystal and Alan King, who co-produced as well (Crystal is also credited with co-writing the script), as a father and son who attempt a reconciliation, except that Crystal is a none-too-forgiving son and King is an obnoxious, bombastic father — so it ain’t easy, folks.

Crystal plays a New York heart surgeon who has a heart attack while operating on a patient and decides it’s a good time to make up with his neglectful father. And he all but gives up his practice to do so.

     

Jobeth Williams, left, Alan King, Billy Crystal, 'Memories of Me'

King is a Hollywood extra — “the king of the extras,” he informs us — one of those guys who stands around in crowd scenes in movies. He is very loud and given to suddenly breaking into uncontrollable soliloquies from “Inherit the Wind,” our first indication that he is suffering from a fatal disease.

That Crystal and King will ultimately work out their problems, just in the nick of time, isn’t the only predictable thing about this movie — in fact, “Memories of Me” is an apt title since just about every line of dialogue will seem familiar even to infrequent moviegoers.

There are more clichés in this movie — from King entertaining fellow extras in a bar, ending with the line “No applause, just throw money” to Crystal saying, “I thought I was immortal” (until his heart attack).

Would I lie to you?

To be fair it must be said that there are some witty and clever moments here but they are peripheral elements that surround the action rather than becoming a part of it. And director Henry Winkler — yes that Henry Winkler — in his feature-film directing debut, feels the need to cap off every scene that starts out funny with a poignant or sentimental payoff.

     

Alan King, left, director Henry Winkler and Billy Crystal on the set of 'Memories of Me.'

The result is neither funny nor poignant, only maudlin and dull.

And Crystal, not content to write himself a role as a successful surgeon who also is an excellent musician, even gives himself a gratuitous sex scene with JoBeth Williams.

Williams, a fine actress, has literally nothing to do here. King, a fine actor — when he has a strong director — tries hard, but can’t raise the film to his level.

Crystal, a wonderful comic talent, obviously needs some control. Here he goes for the lump-in-the-throat, tear-to-the-eye manipulation that may simply cause audiences to make an early go-for-the-exit departure.

“Mawkish” is the word for all this. It’s an incredible waste of talent on second-rate material.

“Memories of Me” is rated PG-13 for profanity and the aforementioned sex scene.