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My Favorite Year

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: My Favorite Year

Starring: Peter O'Toole, Mark Linn-Baker
Director: Richard Benjamin
Rated: PG
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: January 1982
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Jessica Harper, Joseph Bologna, Lainie Kazan, Bill Macy, Anne DeSalvo, Lou Jacobi, Adolph Green, Selma Diamond

Review by Brian Koller
2½ stars out of 4

"My Favorite Year" is not a great film, but it is an entertaining comedy that provides several memorable characters. The basic story is good, and the film is well-cast. However, the film does drag in the middle, some scenes don't quite work, and there is an unnecessary mobster subplot.

Peter O'Toole has a great role as a former matinee star, a swashbuckling action hero in the style of Errol Flynn. He has since taken to drink and philandering, although he retains enough fame to merit an appearance on the 1954 series "The King Kaiser Show". Kaiser (Joseph Bologna) is an amusing, impulsive comic. His staff includes young comic writer Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker), whose love interest is gopher Jessica Harper.

Linn-Baker is assigned to keep O'Toole out of trouble while the show is in production. Predictably, O'Toole is heedless of Linn-Baker's protestations, instead taking him on a series of drunken adventures in New York.

Mel Brooks produced "My Favorite Year", and the story idea came from his experiences with Errol Flynn when he was a young comic writer on the Sid Caesar show. Richard Benjamin directed instead of Brooks, leading to a more subtle comedy. Still, not all of the scenes work, such as when O'Toole steals a horse, or dines with Linn-Baker's starstruck extended family.

But some of the gags are very funny, especially O'Toole crashing a party by swinging down from a fire hose. O'Toole briefly rejuvenated his career with his performance, earning a Best Actor Academy Award nomination. I also liked the romance between Linn-Baker and Harper, especially the scene where he attempts in vain to teach her how to tell a joke. The off-and-on humor makes for half of a great movie, which is a much larger portion than most comedies have.

Copyright 1999 Brian Koller

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