The Oscars are rapidly approaching, along with the long-awaited return of Billy Crystal as host. One of the running jokes that have been going on behind the scenes of Widescreen Warrior and on our official forums is a reference to the last time that Crystal hosted. In a montage of film clips that were “Forest Gumped” to put Crystal in the scenes, there was a ton of nudity. From Crystal arriving in a Terminator fashion (naked), to the comedian recreating the shock of Jack Nicholson seeing Diane Keaton naked in Something’s Gotta Give (only the scene is altered to put Crystal between the two actors, also naked). Crystal was never exactly an actor we wanted to see naked, especially now that it’s been ten years since he hosted. Basically, we’re all excited about the return of Crystal, just as long as there is no nudity involved.
Because of this, there was a little trepidation on my part when I heard the Academy had teamed up with Funny or Die in order to produce a commercial highlighting Crystal’s return to the Oscar stage. Fortunately, there aren’t any shots of Crystal naked here. Instead, the commercial plays out like an archetypal hunt for a hidden master. Titled “Off the Grid,” the commercial shows Josh Duhamel and Megan Fox searching for “the Host,” on a quest that has them encounter funny characters played by William Fitchner, Vinnie Jones, and Crystal’s buddy Robin Williams before revealing Crystal himself, with the host made up as a reclusive hermit; no nudity to be seen.
The tone of this commercial, which will start playing in movie theaters soon, is absolutely right for the return of a hosting legend. It also shows the Academy’s continued dedication to attracting a younger audience, particularly with Duhamel and Fox at the center of the piece. All-in-all, this is a really nice way to promote Crystal’s return. I just hope they stick with this tone as they craft the script and jokes for Oscar night itself. We could use more humor like this and less Bruce Vilanch.