(Another lost essay…apparently I didn’t care for My Favorite Year…)
I saw My Favorite Year once all the way though. I started watching it again sometime later and gave up after a few minutes. Tonight I tried harder and got about a third of the way though it before I wanted to shout what the hell is Peter O’Toole doing in this loser movie? I mean it stinks. Everything about it stinks except Peter O’Toole. All the other characters stink…I don’t care about any of them, except the ones I actively dislike. All of the infuriating subplots stink…I don’t give a damn about these people’s storylines, their lives, their romances…all I care about is the Peter O’Toole character.
And who the hell told the writer he was funny? He’s not. He’s not a funny guy. He thinks he’s funny, He took a course on how to be a funny. He studied comedy in college. He’s analyzed jokes. But he’s not funny. You wanna know how not funny he is? Let the writer explain it himself:
K.C.: Do you think there are funny people and not-funny people?
Benjy Stone: Yes. Definitely. On the funny side there are the Marx Brothers, except Zeppo; the Ritz Brothers, no exceptions; both Laurel *and* Hardy; and Woody Woodpecker. On the unfunny side there’s anyone who has ever played the accordion professionally.
The Ritz Brothers? He thinks the Ritz Brothers are funny? And I don’t mean kinda funny, but quintessentially funny, funny as the Marx Brothers are funny. After sitting through that moronic and utterly predictable Storke Club scene I hear him say Ritz Brothers and bells go off and oh man, yes, that was the Ritz Brothers. I’m watching a movie written by a guy who thought that the Ritz Brothers were, without exceptions, as funny as funny can be.
And then there’s the setting. He is one of the writers for a guy who is obviously Sid Caesar. Which means, in 1954, that he would be writing for the Show of Shows. So he’s set himself up as a writer in maybe the greatest television comedy writing room of all time. Those people in that room were incredibly funny. Crazily funny. Savagely funny. The competition was deadly, the timing perfect. The jokes this fool lays out so predictably here would never have survived that room. Would never have survived Sid Caesar. Sid was not the buffoon portrayed here. Sid Caesar was probably the funniest man in America in the 1950’s. This kid would never have even got in the door. Not with this material. They would have eaten him alive. Humiliated him. It would scar him till the day he died. So what’s he do? He brings that room down to his level and then makes himself the funniest guy in that room. The egomania is overwhelming.
Ya know, if you’re gonna be funny you better be really fucking funny. There’s no room for mediocrity. What a gem of an idea this movie was. And how perfect Peter O’Toole was for the role. It’s too bad that such a sad script, low brow humor, piss poor casting and hamfisted direction turned out something not much funnier than your average inane sitcom. None of you would watch more than a minute or two if it weren’t for Peter O’Toole. Without him it’s just crap. With him, it’s a treasure since O’Toole made so few film appearances.
Yeah, people will always love My Favorite Year because Peter O’Toole is so funny in it. The movie itself is lousy, but Peter O’Toole sparkles, he really does, he’s wonderful in this. So people will be watching this film for generations long after far, far better comedies are long forgotten.
It ain’t fair, it just is.