700 Sundays (2014)
Sundays were the one day of the week that Billy Crystal got to share with his father, who worked two (sometimes three jobs) a week to make ends meet. By his own calculations, that meant Crystal got to spend approximately seven-hundred Sundays with his dad before he died. Not a lot of time for a son to have with his father, yet they provided ample material for Crystal to share with his audience in this HBO filmed presentation of his one-man play.
Not that his father is the only relative the actor pays tribute to. Other members of his extended family portrayed by Crystal include a flatulent grandfather, a chain-smoking auntie and an uncle who resembles a Picasso painting. A mobster, a comedian and various jazz musicians also crowd onto a sparse stage occupied by Crystal alone, where he is joined by images and home-movies projected onto a representation of the home he was raised in.
Sort of a hybrid stand-up comedy act and a one-man play, Crystal is at times laugh-out-loud funny as recounts his childhood memories but is stretched as an actor when conveying the sorrow of losing his father. And though this consumes much of the second act, Crystal reminds us of the lesson he learnt from his uncle, that even in your worst pain it’s OK and important to laugh.
He hilariously imagines arguing with God, who frustrates Crystal by telling him these are the cards that he has been dealt. Thankfully this joker in the pack has shared his story with us.
Play is set before Crystal’s film career, and as such there are no scene recreations.
Before the stage show begins, and occasionally throughout the performance, there are special segments filmed for this HBO special of Crystal visiting his now-empty family home. In actuality, it was a mock-up of his childhood home that was built on a sound stage in New York.
"Because it wasn't really the house, I was a little removed from it, but it sure was phenomenal to be there again."