Memories of Me

Overview

The bittersweet comedy Memories of Me stars Billy Crystal as Dr. Abbie Polin, a New York heart surgeon, long estranged from his father, Abe Alan King. When the doctor suffers a mild heart attack, he tries to patch things up with his dad, hoping in this way to bring some equilibrium to his own life. This proves well-nigh impossible; Abe, the self-described "king of the Hollywood extras," is not only a play-actor in Tinseltown but in life itself, refusing to take on any real responsibilities, least of all the ...
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Overview

The bittersweet comedy Memories of Me stars Billy Crystal as Dr. Abbie Polin, a New York heart surgeon, long estranged from his father, Abe Alan King. When the doctor suffers a mild heart attack, he tries to patch things up with his dad, hoping in this way to bring some equilibrium to his own life. This proves well-nigh impossible; Abe, the self-described "king of the Hollywood extras," is not only a play-actor in Tinseltown but in life itself, refusing to take on any real responsibilities, least of all the responsibility of parenthood. So far as Abe is concerned, his only "family" consists of his fellow extras. Though Abbie is extremely judgmental of his father, he himself is no prize in the commitment department, especially when dealing with his longtime lady friend JoBeth Williams. Star/co-writer Crystal, co-star/co-producer King, and director Henry Winkler lay on the sentiment in thick, juicy slices toward the end. The final sequence in Memories of Me, a Felliniesque funeral, is very clever but somewhat out of synch with what has gone before. One of the film's highlights is a brief celebrity cameo by one of Alan King's "close personal friends."
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
One of the key scenes in Memories of Me arrives late in the film. Abe Polin Alan King, the self-proclaimed "king of the extras" in Hollywood productions, lets his son, Abbie Billy Crystal, talk him into a studio audition for a speaking part -- Abe's first -- in a major motion picture. Abe visits the casting director, Dorothy Davis Janet Carroll, but refuses to take Davis seriously -- every straight-faced question she asks earns a smart-ass quip or a piece of stale sarcasm, until she tells Abe, with as much politic as she can muster, to shut up. Abe's wisecracks suddenly lose their veneer, and Abe's inner desperation and fear shine through. This is as close as the movie comes to declaring the function of humor in Abe and Abbie's lives, but the writing is on the wall from the first scene in which Abbie, a New York cardiologist, jokes with a nervous elderly patient about "scraping the baklava" out of her arteries. Abe and Abbie share the use of humor as a coping mechanism -- as a self-defense to guard against vulnerability in difficult situations. Their transitions, over the course of the film, will partially involve learning to be sincere with one another -- so that although the film initially hands the audience two levels in these characters, the humor eventually melts away by necessity. And even though the oddball, funny-sad mix of overtones in the first two acts sentimental, occasionally tear-jerking family drama buried beneath yuk-yuk comedy feels jarring, even beguiling initially, the comic defense mechanisms serve a legitimate purpose for these characters. We adjust to this style surprisingly quickly, and at the film's best, its sad-eyed laughter teeters on the verge of perfection. More broadly, the overall picture works because its primary transition -- that of reconciliation between father and son -- feels so exceptionally real and credible, never deliberate, forced, or manipulative. It is bolstered not only by beautifully defined arcs in the script co-authored by Crystal and Eric Roth but by the stellar lead performances that director Henry Winkler draws from Crystal and King. The co-screenwriters spring a tragic surprise on the audience in the final act, but it wisely doesn't drive the reconciliation or beg for audience sympathy; by the time it finally unfolds, the script has already earned reconciliation, on its own terms, and the characters have drawn legitimate respect and empathy from us as an audience, which rescues Memories of Me from the danger of bathos. Crystal and the late King play together with instinctive smoothness and ease -- throughout their careers, they never found better comic partners than each other they sound like a pair of old vaudevillians with a 20-year history; the two later teamed for an episode of King's series Inside the Comic Mind, but what a shame that they never paired up in a feature again. Romantic lead JoBeth Williams and Crystal also display a gentle romantic chemistry, and the film sports a funny walk-on by Sean Connery in his costume for The Presidio. Memories of Me is a gentle and pleasant surprise, and a fine candidate for sleeper status.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/1/2003
  • UPC: 883904129059
  • Original Release: 1988
  • Source: Mgm (Video & Dvd)
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Billy Crystal Dr. Abbie Polin
Alan King Abe Polin
JoBeth Williams Lisa McConnell
Sean Connery Himself
Janet Carroll Dorothy Davis
David Ackroyd 1st Asst. Director
Phil Fondacaro Horace Bosco
Robert Pastorelli Al (Broccoli)
Mark L. Taylor 2nd Assistant Director
Peter Elbing Director
Larry Cedar 1st Assistant Director (Soap)
Sheryl Bernstein Dancer
Joe Shea Stan Kantor
Jay (Flash) Riley
Billy Beck Angry Man
Margarito Mendoza Mariachi Trumpet Player
Noni White Waitress
Zachary Benjamin Young Abbie
Angela Clarke Mrs. Petrakis
David Correia Photographer
Cory Danziger Older Abbie
John Evans
Jane Feinberg
Mike Fenton
Marc Flanagan Morty
Michael Harte Receptionist
Leigh Lombardi Soap Opera Nurse
Karl Lukas Bartender
Ryan McWhorter Middle Abbie
Joseph Medalis Sallow Man
Sidney Miller Slow-Burn
Sue Rihr Shiela
Rusty Schwimmer Strawberry
Judy Taylor
Carol Williard
Technical Credits
Henry Winkler Director
Michele Ader Production Designer
Peter E. Berger Editor
William J. Cassidy Production Designer
Billy Crystal Co-producer, Producer, Screenwriter
Georges Delerue Score Composer
Andrew Dintenfass Cinematographer
Jane Feinberg Casting
Mike Fenton Casting
Michael Hertzberg Co-producer, Producer
Alan King Producer
Allan King Co-producer
J. David Marks Executive Producer
Eric Roth Screenwriter
Rusty Smith Art Director
Gabe Sumner Executive Producer, Producer
Judy Taylor Casting
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