Awfully Good: My Giant
My Giant (1998)
Director: Michael Lehmann
Stars: Billy Crystal, Gheorghe Muresan, Steven Seagal
Is there a plot?
After being fired by his only client, a flailing movie agent finds a tall guy in Romania. The rest is cinematic history.
What's the damage?
True story: Last month I randomly met Gheorghe Muresan at a party. As I’m not really a sports guy (unless they made a movie about it), there was really only one thing I could talk with him about –MY GIANT. Considering I had never actually sat down and watched MY GIANT, I could then only promise him that I would check it out for my column. And since there’s no possible way Gheorghe Muresan is actually reading this, I don’t feel guilty in saying that this movie sucks exactly as much as you’d expect it to.
Most people have the same reaction when they see CITY SLICKERS II.
I will say I was surprised at how much MY GIANT attempts to pull at your heartstrings by the end. Unfortunately there’s nothing about this movie that allows you to take it seriously. From the giant projectile vomiting on “Boy Meets World” star Ryder Strong to the giant wrestling a gaggle of midgets (of course led by Verne Troyer), the whole thing is a ridiculous mess.
No one gets a role in a Billy Crystal movie without passing The Test.
Based on his experiences with Andre the Giant during the filming of THE PRINCESS BRIDE, this is clearly a very personal movie for Billy Crystal. But perhaps he needed a little distance from the material. His character continually refers to Muresan as "my giant" (“I need to do what's best for my giant!” “My giant's dying!”), most likely out of concern, but to the point that you have to consider whether or not he actually thinks of the poor tall guy as his personal property. Along those lines, the film also seriously comes across as PSA about the plights of the vertically enhanced. And the whole “Giants are people too!” message leads to many an unfortunate scene where Billy Crystal has serious discussions about love, family and religion…with a Romanian giant who can't act.
The all-Jewish remake of LORD OF THE RINGS was met with controversy to say the least.
And that’s the movie’s biggest problem—Gheorghe Muresan is not a good actor. Sometimes that works out, as the character is supposed to be naive and bchildlike, but the basketball player is just missing the charisma of other gigantic thespians like Andre the Giant, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, and yes, even the raw magnetism of Shaq. The man has trouble controlling the volume of his voice and he’s increasingly hard to understand. (Even the subtitles have a tough time keeping up.) And just wait until you hear him recite Shakespeare.
A shot from AUSTIN POWERS IV: MINI ME’S BIG ADVENTURE.
This is all fun and games until the end of the movie, where things get serious real quick when a doctor says the giant has a heart defect and could die at any moment, leaving Crystal to choose between fame and money and killing his giant. Crystal makes the right choice and decides to also help Maximus (yes, that’s the giant’s actual name) find the girl of his dreams. But instead of a nice romantic moment to end the movie and give the dying giant one last happy memory, we come to discover the girl Maximus has been pining for this whole time…well, he’s essentially been stalking her for two decades. They kissed one time 23 years earlier, and since then he’s been sending her crazy letters, love poems, and acting like a "perverted priest" (her words). Naturally she refuses to meet him. So Crystal’s character does the next best thing: he sends in his own wife to pretend to be her and make out with Maximus. And somehow this act also solves all of Billy Crystal’s marital problems.
Even giants can appreciate a nice juicy double.
Billy Crystal meets the giant for the first time, and Estelle Harris asks a very personal question.
1) In which Rider Strong (Shawn Hunter from "Boy Meets World") gets puked on by NBA star Gheorghe Muresan.
2) Steven Seagal gets career advice from a child.
3) Gheorghe Muresan wrestles with midgets, including Mini Me.
No, thank God.
Play Along at Home!
Take a shot or drink every time:
- Billy Crystal says "my giant"
- Steven Seagal is mentioned or on screen
- Someone says “Ga-loop”
- Ba ba bing, ba ba boom
Double shot if:
- A midget gets tossed
Gheorghe Muresan, if you’re actually reading this, let’s do lunch!
Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email and give him an excuse to drink.