It was vintage Billy Crystal with a twist at the 84th annual Academy Awards.
Like his previous times as host, Crystal opened the show with a comedic film montage, injecting himself into each of the nine films nominated for best picture. He followed with his trademark song that riffed on each of the nine films, but some of the lyrics and his jokes afterward had more bite than usual. Trying to keep up with Ricky Gervais, perhaps?
The stars seemed genuinely pleased to have him back and even appeared with him in his trademark opening film montage.
George Clooney kissed Billy Crystal, begging him to wake up and “please come home” to host the Oscars. “You’ve got to do it Billy,” Clooney implores. Justin Bieber made an appearance to appeal to the younger demographic and he was joined by Crystal as Sammy Davis Jr. Then, Crystal hopped through “The Help” (and the infamous Minnie pie) to the awful bathroom scene from “Bridesmaids” and finally runs into Tom Cruise from “MI4.”
On stage after the montage, Crystal joked, “That was extremely loud and incredibly close,” referring to the Oscar-nominated film. “That’s how my relatives are watching this show. This is my ninth time, so tonight just call me war horse.”
Crystal was called in to replace Eddie Murphy after Brett Ratner tendered his resignation last year amid backlash that he’d used an anti-gay slur.
Only one other person has hosted Hollywood’s biggest night more time than Crystal — Bob Hope.
Taking away from Crystal’s opener was an echo from his microphone that drew comments on Twitter. Some also complained the music was too loud during his singing tribute to the nine-nominated films, making it hard to hear the jokes.
Crystal’s decision to wear makeup to appear black as Sammy Davis Jr., one of his famous impersonations from “Saturday Night Live,” was also getting criticism from Twitter users. “Billy Crystal in blackface followed immediately by The Help. We’ve come so far,” Mike Byhoff wrote on his Twitter page.