My Favorite Year (1982)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Showbiz Comedy, Odd Couple Film  |   Release Date - Oct 1, 1982 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Dan Friedman

An excellent film from top to bottom, My Favorite Year captures a long-lost time and place to perfection through the use of very clever dialogue, humorous situations, and casting that is nearly as perfect as can be. The story, loosely based on the late career of Errol Flynn, involves a dissolute matinee idol named Alan Swann, played by Peter O'Toole, and his scheduled appearance on a live television variety show à la Sid Caesar's Your Show of Shows. Told through the eyes of junior writer Mark Linn-Baker, who idolizes Swann, the film is a tour de force for O'Toole that allows him to show off and stretch his comedic skills. Mostly associated with the great epics of his career, it's a delight watching O'Toole play this swashbuckling souse with such aplomb. Joseph Bologna, in the Caesar role, is truly wonderful, as he doesn't resort to stereotyping and has a definite edge to him that would not ordinarily be expected in someone who is more or less a clown. Linn-Baker has the put-upon look of exasperation down to a science, and gets to use it very well in the scenes with his overbearing mother, played by Lainie Kazan. Fans of Kazan from My Big Fat Greek Wedding will be interested in seeing her playing more or less the same role with a different ethnicity. Director Richard Benjamin shows a nice comedic touch in letting the more subtle humor shine through and many of the jokes are almost lost in the surrounding mayhem, but they are all very funny. The rest of the cast is a who's who of comedy character actors, including Bill Macy, Lou Jacobi, and the late great Adolph Green as Bologna's main foil. There are many little subplots that feed into the big climax, which is the live broadcast. The scene where O'Toole realizes that he is going to appear on live television and his subsequent reaction to that information is a classic.