Rated PG - Running time: 1:43 - Released 4/10/98

For a film that is intended to be a feel-good story, My Giant is written a little too cynically for its own good. Penned by Billy Crystal and Brian Seltzer, this script fails to illicit as much sympathy for Crystal's character as it should. But it is funny, especially the first half, and contains some truly amazing images showing the diminutive Crystal alongside the 7'7" Rumanian-born Gheorghe Muresan, making his acting debut after distinguishing himself as one of the top centers in the NBA.

Crystal plays Sammy Kanin, a New York talent agent who has traveled to rural Rumania for a film shoot. His wife Serena (Kathleen Quinlan), tired of coming in second to Sammy's movie business, has recently left him, taking their son Nick (Zane Carney) with her. When he wrecks his rental car, he is saved by a huge Rumanian man, Max (Muresan), who he then decides is perfect for this movie. But Max, having lived for years in a Catholic monastery, doesn't even know what a movie is.

Max is at first unwilling, but when Sammy convinces him that they can go to America to find his long-lost girlfriend who emigrated over 20 years ago, Max agrees. After a rocky but successful day at the shoot, the two take their long voyage to the states, with Sammy making calls to get Max in the movies, and Max looking forward to seeing his childhood sweetheart.

The relationship between Sammy and his family in this movie is almost identical to that of Jim Carrey's Fletcher Reede character in Liar Liar (1997). He is loved by his neglected son, though constantly disappointing him, and left by his wife for the same reason. But while Fletcher's lying was overblown and the basis for broad comedy, Sammy's lying is more of a depressing side issue. Supposedly trying to satisfy everyone's needs, he deceives everybody in the movie, including his son, his wife, and his Giant. And when we expect him to finally own up to all his shenanigans, he fakes us out, too.

There is also an unsettling issue involving Muresan's character. While Max is sensitive about his size, he is booked at such humiliating events as studio wrestling and dwarf-throwing. Sammy tries (but not too hard) to protect him from such things, spouting about respecting Max for who he is. But Muresan himself was obviously chosen for this movie for the same reasons, and forced to endure the very same type of exploitation. The script gives lip service to the "respect yourself" idea, but the end product contradicts this notion.

My Giant goes from being a silly farce to a lesson in lying your way out of a jam, with some truly sappy tear-jerking thrown in. Crystal is a good actor and a funny comedian, but if he wants to be a giant in the screenwriting trade, he still has some growing to do. ***

Copyright 1998 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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