Billy Crystal's friendship with the late Andre the Giant is the stuff of which Hollywood legends are made. It also would have made a much more interesting film than the disappointing, uneven comedy "My Giant."
The movie is loosely (very loosely) based on their relationship. Standing in for the late professional-wrestler-turned-actor is NBA star Gheorghe Muresan, who's shown some goofy charm in television advertisements.Unfortunately, the film too often tries to get by on his sweet nature and Crystal's loser shtick rather than any actual humor.
Crystal's exasperated routine gets old quickly, as does Muresan's almost-constant, bellowing delivery. And the film shows a rather Disney-like tendency for including crass gags (including an awful vomiting sequence), that are sorely out of place in a supposed kids' movie.
Crystal stars as Sammy Cayman, a third-rate talent agent whose sinking career has spilled into his personal life.
Already feeling separation anxiety from his estranged wife Serena (Kathleen Quinlan) and their son Nick (Zane Carney), Sammy flies to Romania with a client and is promptly fired. Adding insult to injury, he crashes his rental car into a river.
But he's saved from drowning by Max (Muresan), a 7-foot-plus, Shakespeare-quoting monastery caretaker. Sammy is convinced he's found the next, er, big thing, and he tries to convince his gigantic friend to come to America.
Both men have their reasons for agreeing to the deal: Sammy wants to get back in his family's good graces, while Max wants to be reunited with his childhood sweetheart, now living in New Mexico.
The idea is promising, but veteran screenwriter David Seltzer ("Shining Through") and director Michael Lehmann ("The Truth About Cats and Dogs") seem more interested in going the cheap route - at least until the end, when it turns sickeningly and unconvincingly sweet.
Crystal doesn't seem exactly inspired, either, and a little Muresan goes a long, long way (his rudimentary English-speaking skills leave much to be desired). The movie also criminally underuses co-stars Quinlan, Jere Burns and Dan Castellaneta (one of the voices on TV's "The Simpsons").
Admittedly, there is a very funny film-within-a-film sequence involving action star Steven Seagal (who's on-hand to poke fun at himself, believe it or not). But only movie aficionados and critics are likely to get the joke.
"My Giant" is rated PG for profanity, vulgar flatulence and other gags and violence.