Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish bring out emotions and humor in this hit & miss dramedy.
In, “Here Today,” the first movie he directed since the TV movie “61*,” Billy Crystal writes himself as a New York comedy writer named Charlie Burnz, who begins to suffer from dementia. And Tiffany Haddish co-stars as a street singer named Emma Payge, whom Charlie meets at lunch as part of a dating auction.
I can’t call it a comedy masterpiece in contrast with Crystal’s best works, but I was still able to find some humor and sincerely touching moments, regarding the dementia. Speaking of which, Charlie writes down the names of his estranged kids, and forgets his gym locker and the names of his collaborators (Barry Levinson and Sharon Stone). Emma knows his situation, and learns about his dead wife Carrie (Louisa Krause), whom he hasn’t begin writing a story about. She even wants to change her touring plans to take care of him, but he wants her to live her dreams.
The story was co-written by former SNL veteran Alan Zweibel, who based it on his short story “The Prize.” “Here Today” isn’t complex in its story and certain jokes don’t work, but every once in a while, you find yourself with a good laugh. A stupid funny moment is when Carrie gives birth to Charlie’s son Rex (Penn Badgley) in the Museum of Natural History. It’s looks forced, and yet, it tickles you with how they present it.
But mostly, the movie has a sweetness inside that allows Crystal to balance his emotions, while sneaking in some laughs. Haddish also connects with him with an honest path, instead of the just the mainstream comedy she usually provides. And these two manage to overcome its cliches and they make themselves likable.
Even if the wife sequences are hammy and even if the supporting characters aren’t as vivid as the leads, you still find empathy in the two leads. You’re more interested in the scenes with both Crystal and Haddish, and on a platonic level, they work. Not at the full potential of Ed Helms and Patti Harrison in “Together Together,” but on a decent angle.
I also admired how the movie uses “SNL” material in the fake show that Charlie writes for. After all, it was co-written by Zweibel. The newsman who can’t say names right, the studio audience, and the way Charlie freaks out about how the comedy anchorman is supposed to say things-all of them remind us of the good old days when John Belushi and Chevy Chase were legends.
“Here Today” will leave you mixed because of its tone, and it may not interest you, but if you look at it from a different perspective, you might find something here.