Critics Pan Billy's Ninth Gig At The Oscars

Maybe the ninth time isn't the charm. Billy Crystal is on the receiving end of some biting criticism for his snooze-worthy antics as host of Sunday's 84th Annual Academy Awards.

Billy Crystal's ninth Oscars outing looked anything but "marvelous."

So say the critics, of course.

The former Saturday Night Live wisecracker stepped in to take the hosting reigns at Sunday's 84th Annual Academy Awards after original frontman Eddie Murphy backed out. Too bad Billy's gesture isn't earning him any favor with critics.

Crystal opened the awards show with a parody video of the nominated films, including The Artist, The Descendants, Midnight in Paris, The Help and Hugo.

George Clooney planted a kiss on Crystal's lips in a take on The Descendants. And Tom Cruise appeared in a surprise clip from Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol.

Justin Bieber also made a surprise appearance in Billy's opening segment. In a spoof of Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris, Bieber delivered a deadpan line about winning the "18-24 demographic" for Crystal. The exchange was followed by an awkward moment of silence between the 17-year-old teen heartthrob and the 63-year-old Oscar host.

The response from TV critics: A resounding yawn. Some pundits even have the beloved Crystal pegged as an older, stiffer version of last year's awkward hosting duo, James Franco and Anne Hathaway.

Just take a look at some of the reviews:

Robert Bianco of USA Today: "You can seldom go wrong by bringing back the best. Even if he wasn't exactly at his best."

The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman wrote: "Somewhere, against all odds, James Franco is buying drinks for everybody. The colossal hosting disaster from last year is now forgotten by the safe, unfunny, retro-disaster that was Crystal making jokes that he laughed at repeatedly and overseeing an Oscars telecast that was as poorly paced as any in recent memory."

Alessandra Stanley, with The New York Times, suggested that Billy brought an air of Old Hollywood to the 2012 Oscars. Yeah… not exactly a good thing: "The whole night looked like an AARP pep rally, starting with an introduction by Morgan Freeman, who was followed by Billy Crystal, returning to host his ninth Oscar ceremony."

The Washington Post columnist Hank Stuever wrote: "Billy Crystal, hosting his ninth Oscar show (his first was in 1990, his most recent was in 2004), seemed to be overseeing a cruise ship dinner show designed to appeal to the over-50 travel club. Early on, it hit the rocks and started to list. Almost everyone drowned."

The City Slickers star did manage to find one ally in his new chum, The Biebs.

"And a BIG SHOUTOUT to Billy Crystal. Thanks for letting me be a part of the show and you killed it tonight. #muchlove," the pop star tweeted after last night's broadcast.

There's also a simmering controversy over the revival of Billy's Sammy Davis Jr. Blackface routine. Crystal decided to dust off his old SNL impersonation of the late Rat Pack legend for his opening number.

Let's just say it did not go over well with some very opinionated Tweeters. Crystal played Davis the same way during his tenure on the sketch comedy show, but that didn't stop hundreds from questioning the bit on Twitter.

Did you enjoy watching Billy host the Oscars?

Photo credits: Veronica Summers/Splash News

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Comments on "Blackface, bad jokes, criticism for Oscar host Billy Crystal"

JKFan87 February 27, 2012 | 5:56 PM

Greg...Billy Crystal wasn't IN Blackface. Please so some research before embarrassing yourself again. Blackface is not "a white man wearing black makeup to impersonate a black man" it is putting on VERY DARK makeuup, and having exaggerated features like huge lips, and mocking the ENTIRE black race with stereotypes that are offensive. Billy Crystal did none of that.

Lakawak February 27, 2012 | 5:54 PM

Guess what, Academy...and critics...you may as well give up TRYING to appeal to the young crowd and accept hte older audiences that Crystal brings in. It doesn't matter WHO you bring on...Young people have FAR better things to do than to watch an extra long awards show. Especially when all of the Best Picture nominees COMBINED earned less than an average summer movie. At some point, you have to realize when your time has come and gone. And either accept it and quit, or just embrace the older nature of your crowd. After all, you don't see dinner buffets trying to bring in the younger crowd for 4:30 dinner specials. Or a company coming out with Mahjong sets with new hip designs on the tiles trying to get the 18-24 year olds to play. And neither should the Oscars.

Greg Thrasher February 27, 2012 | 4:59 PM

Crystal's 'blackface was offensive and out of order...Whites in America doing blackface is never kosher...WTF

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