Billy Crystal's films are innocuous. They don't say a lot but they
they do manage to entertain with language kept tasteful and in a mixture
of immature and downright stupid comedies, Crystal finds the wit and
charming self-consciousness that appeals to all age groups. His best
film, 'City Slickers', spawned a sequel that was more contrived and less
ambitious and his most talked about film is probably 1989's 'When Harry
Met Sally' in which Crystal and the extremely likable Meg Ryan starred
as a pair of on again off again relationship seekers who find each
other's true nature after many years.
'My Giant' has two things going for it. An original story and the
unusual presence of a nearly 8 foot tall actor named Gheorge Muresan who
is extremely likable and remarkably, holds his own with Crystal in his
Crystal plays Sam, an agent travelling through Romania and a client
whom he represents is the star of a 'Braveheart' kind of film, full of
men in armour, wielding large swords, riding swiftly on horses and
Crystal is fired by his client and in the frustration and shame of being
fired, crashes his car into a ditch attached to a river and is saved by
Max (Muresan) who works at a monastery helping with the daily chores who
longs to be reunited with a teenage sweetheart who moved to America
years before. Sam tells Max he can put him in the movies and after a
hard sell job of convincing Max that he can be a movie star, Max agrees
and the two of them are in tow.
Watching Muresan walk down the streets of New York City is funny
with everyone looking up and a scene where Muresan gobbles up twenty hot
dogs in a couple of minutes and runs up a vendor's bill of over 50
dollars is what audiences probably remember most from the ads promoting
the film. Crystal also takes his new client home to meet his family and
there are some funny scenes at the dinner table that contain some
genuine belly laughs.
The film fails to expand on some characters that have potential
such as the boy who plays Cystal's isolated son and even Crystal's wife
in the film (Kathleen Quinlan) has a role that is key in the film's
final minutes but her talents are far above that of only one key scene.
Crystal always looks to be playing himself in his films as his
personalities are always the same but Crystal gets away with it
constantly surrounding himself with other talent. Sometimes with actors
better than him (Jack Palance, Debra Winger) and other times by telling
stories that sell on the strength of their appeal which ordinary people
can relate to ('City Slickers'). You can accuse Crystal of being a one
dimensional comedian but for an actor who started in television ('Soap'
and a little known appearance on 'All in the Family'), he's done quite
well for himself with acceptance among both critics and audiences alike.
Copyright © 1998 Walter Frith