Remember the Extras
A Christian and a Jew walk into a taco joint… That’s where Memories of Me truly begins. Billy Crystal has reunited with his on-screen estranged father. Crystal’s girlfriend joins the pair at a Mexican restaurant where the trio begin to mend – comically, of course.
Memories of Me is rife with sarcasm. Alan King, playing Crystal’s father, slings gags to deflect from deep-rooted emotional issues. The two never connected as family. Memories of Me allows the two to duel in barbs rather than reality, a smartly written, believable center.
The background is Hollywood, a place where King sat around for decades playing an extra in movies and TV, bonding with others better than his own son. Memories of Me finds Hollywood thankless, trapping hopefuls in a cycle of non-speaking roles; King then plays a victim, divorced and detached from his son in the hunt for screen stardom.
Key is keeping King empathetic despite being a rotten father. King’s performance works, generating sympathy as an eccentric, and cast perfectly across from Crystal in his prime. Based on timing and style, the two feel like genuine family, faults and all.
Memories of Me finds Hollywood thankless
Memories of Me finds Hollywood thankless
A lot of Memories of Me comes and goes, treading over itself with repetitious drama as the father & son team try to work through their issues. Each scene struggles to feel distinct, relying on Crystal and King to save the flat material. In the middle then is JoBeth Williams, Crystal’s on again, off again lover. She’s trapped, seeing the relationship from the outside and inadvertently mending things.
There’s only one possible ending. Memories of Me handles things with an overdoes of schmaltz and melodrama, sinking the otherwise genuine tone. The final shot is so gratuitous as to generate an eye roll before any tears. As time passes, Memories of Me is heading a certain way, seeking sentimentality in a story about repairing emotional fractures. It’s generic in that way, pure Hollywood in a movie attempting to blast the system. Awkward.
If there’s cause to watch, it’s entirely in the performances. Crystal’s introverted dry humor lends the piece a quiet humor. King too, louder and extroverted, counters that to keep balance. Also of interest is a bit of historical curiosity – Memories of Me is one of only two features directed by Henry Winkler. The other? Cop & a Half. Memories of Me is the winner.
MVD debuts Memories of Me on Blu-ray as part of their Marquee Collection. It looks fine. There’s a nice, stable grain structure at work. Encoding handles the spikes with care. The print used for this master is likely an interpositive, a touch dirty, if not out of the ordinary for a film reaching 30. Specks and scratches pop up from time to time, and nothing severe.
Generous resolution delivers fidelity. Close-ups produce facial definition and texture. Clean exteriors of parks and cities push natural detail. Medium shots appear organic without faults. Everything is helped by bright contrast and stout black levels, adding dimension to the image.
Certain sequences break out from a rather flat color palette. A scene in a Mexican part of L.A. boasts bright, well saturated primaries, including a hat stand with a plethora of designs. Flesh tones maintain purity.
A PCM mono track provides sufficient clarity. Dialog holds normal age, slightly worn and high in treble. There’s no damage noted, including any minor hissing or popping in the track. Crystal’s character plays a trumpet; those highs matter, and lose nothing.
Minor touches from the score remain balanced in the fairly limited range. Memories of Me remains fairly sedate throughout.
MVD digs up a making-of from the ‘80s and includes it here, running six minutes with plenty of set footage. For a promo piece at the time, it’s well produced.
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Memories of Me
Billy Crystal and Alan King almost make Memories of Me work, but an overdramatic story and repetitious script hold it down.
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