A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
Two of the most intriguing words in show business are "No - really!" They usually come right after a compliment, as in, "You're looking great! No - really!" The effect is of complete insincerity, since if the subject really were looking great, there wouldn't be any need to insist on it. This kind of double-reverse English, in which what is said is the opposite of what is meant, lies at the heart of Henry Winkler's "Memories of Me," a comedy about a man who never has been able to talk seriously with his father. No - really.
Billy Crystal stars in the movie as Abbie, a high-powered New York surgeon who begins to take his life more seriously after he has a heart attack. He has been alienated for years from his father, Abe, a character who has become known as the King of the Extras out in Hollywood. Abbie has vague memories of Abe telling him bedtime stories, and then there is a great silence over many years. When he thinks of his father at all, Abbie thinks of him as an embarrassment. But now the heart attack has caused him to examine his life more closely and so, almost against his will, he goes out West to visit his father.
The moment we see Abe, we recognize him. He's the life of the party, one of those ebullient types who keeps people at a distance while professing friendship. He slaps you on the back so he doesn't have to look in your eyes. Almost from the moment Abbie sees Abe, he's making plans to go back home to New York. But, somehow he stays. And eventually he begins to notice some disturbing things about his father.
One day, for example, Abe is playing an extra in a daytime medical soap opera. He's a patient, and all he has to do is lie still and keep quiet. But he starts talking. Another day, dressed up like a big, red lobster, he inexplicably starts reciting a speech from a play he was in years ago.