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Posted at 07:56 AM ET, 02/27/2012

Billy Crystal: How bad was his Oscar hosting?

If last night was a comeback for Billy Crystal, it wasn’t much of one. Voices across Twitter chimed in throughout the night to ask who he was. Those who did know him were annoyed and offended at his jokes.

The “safe” choice for an Oscar host after Eddie Murphy pulled out(Murphy was also considered a “safe” choice after the much-criticized James Franco-Anne Hathaway hosting combo last year), Crystal’s Best Picture montage gag was tired, and his performance was lacking, according to many critics. Here’s what they had to say about Crystal’s ninth hosting gig:

He was boring: Crystal “seemed to be overseeing a cruise ship dinner show designed to appeal to the over-50 travel club,” wrote Washington Post critic Hank Stuever. “Early on, it hit the rocks and started to list. Almost everyone drowned.”

He told terrible jokes: Writes the Baltimore Sun’s David Zurawik: “I used to like Crystal. I really did. But by the time he made a empty joke about J. Edgar Hoover ‘in heels’ that drew no laughs and then said how funny the band thought it was in rehearsals, I wondered if this wasn’t some sort of cosmic time-warp punishment throwing us back to a Las Vegas lounge act 50 years ago — God’s way of telling us how vapid, lifeless and non-creative Hollywood and our popular culture had become in the dark years of 2011 and 2012.”

He was offensive: In his montage, Crystal’s “Midnight in Paris” bit included his Sammy Davis Jr. character, complete with Sammy Davis Jr.’s complexion (It was a character he regularly spoofed on SNL — nearly 30 years ago). Combined with a few other jokes with racial overtones — like Crystal saying that after he saw “The Help,” he wanted to go out and hug the first black woman he saw — Twitter erupted with complaints that Crystal was being offensive. Wrote the AP: “When Octavia Spencer won supporting actress for ‘The Help,’ comedian Paul Scheer tweeted her win ‘shows just how far we’ve come since Billy Crystal performed in Blackface.’ ”

His skin was so smooth--eerily so: Considering the high-profile gig, Crystal, 63, wanted to look his best. But seeing his face completely devoid of wrinkles, viewers and critics alike commented that Crystal may have been too aggressive with the Botox. “I do know is that this is the face of a man who has seen an injection or two,” wrote the Boston Herald.

He was upstaged by just about everyone who presented: Chris Rock, Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, even the Muppets — who some fans had wanted to be the hosts of the show to begin with — all had more memorable skits and funnier jokes than Crystal.

Not everyone knew who he was: Crystal’s been out of the spotlight for so long that he was unfamiliar to young people. They took to Twitter, asking who he was.

Not everyone criticized Crystal’s performance, however. David Hinckley of the New York Daily News praised his performance, saying: “Crystal recaptured smartly the formula that worked for him in the past: a quick-hit opening montage, a song-and-dance number, then a sprinkling of jokes that had an edge but never drew blood.”

What did you think — did Crystal do a good job last night? Was he better than last year’s hosts? Tell us in the comments.

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By  |  07:56 AM ET, 02/27/2012

Tags:  Oscars, awards season

 
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