David Paymer received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Stan in Mr. Saturday Night.
It is rather interesting that David Paymer was nominated for playing Buddy's brother and agent. I say this is because it was the film's only nomination, a film that seemed a to be a little too much of Oscar bait for Billy Crystal who plays Buddy and directed the film as well. Paymer is second banana in the film, but does really manage to steal the entire film from Billy Crystal and it is easy to see why he was nominated and Crystal was not.
This film is filled with a lot of overly sentimental scenes that seem rather forced, and overly schmaltzy. Paymer is better off than the rest of them though and is able to bring out some honest genuine emotion in his part. Even though there are many factors working against Paymer as the script forces him to be overly emotional from his earliest scenes, which puts a great deal of pressure on him to begin with. What I did find interesting was Paymer did not fail despite this problem.
Paymer actually does fairly good job of showing Stan's regrets and pains over what he did not have and his brother did have. Paymer particularly does excel in a single scene devoted to him where he introduces Buddy's eventual wife to him, even though he clearly feels for her himself. It is a very strong scene by far the best in the film, although that is saying very little, because Paymer creates an honestly heartbreaking portrait of a man always put second.
Unfortunately I cannot continue to praise Paymer, although it is not really his fault due to the lackluster script, as well as due to Crystal's performance. Their chemistry together could have been really something special, but it never does because Crystal's own characterization of Buddy feels lacking. Also after awhile Paymer performance becomes repetitive. Not because of what he does, but the film requires basically to go over the same exact emotional notes over and over, which eventually becomes tiresome. Paymer is never bad, and with a better script probably could have given a stronger performance.