A dream project for star, co-writer and first-time director Crystal, in which his affection for the characters and familiarity with the material sometimes prevent him from achieving sufficient distance. Stand-up comic Buddy Young Jr (Crystal), managed by his brother Stan (Paymer), was a household name in the '50s and '60s. Now he's just another has-been trying for a comeback, struggling to retain his dignity in the face of humiliating auditions and demeaning bit-parts in TV commercials. Flashbacks to Buddy's childhood and heyday strike the right balance between nostalgia and realism. Scenes of Jewish family life, jokes about food, and lovingly recreated borscht-belt shows evoke the atmosphere of the time; while the egocentric comic's difficult relationships with the self-sacrificing Stan and estranged daughter Susan (Mara) reveal a darker side to showbiz and familial ties. By contrast, the modern scenes are cloyingly sentimental. Even so, there are probably enough sharp one-liners, hilarious routines and clever mimicry to see most people through the soggier patches.