MOVIE REVIEW: “Here Today” stars Billy Crystal (When Harry Met Sally…, Parental Guidance), Tiffany Haddish (Night School, Like a Boss), Penn Badgley (You [TV series], Easy A), Laura Benanti (Life & Beth [TV series], tick tick… BOOM!), Audrey Hsieh (Mixtape, Ron’s Gone Wrong), Max Gordon Moore (Succession [TV series], Instinct [TV series]), Susan Pourfar (A Journal for Jordan, Scandal [TV series]), Brandon Uranowitz (The Kitchen, Stage Fright ), Andrew Durand (NCIS: New Orleans [TV series], Madam Secretary [TV series]), Matthew Broussard (Presidents Day, All I Wish), and Louisa Krause (Billions [TV series], Jane Wants a Boyfriend). It is directed by Billy Crystal, who wrote it with Alan Zweibel (Saturday Night Live [TV series], Dragnet).
When a veteran comedy writer (Crystal) begins to lose his memory, he finds companionship in a stranger named Emma (Haddish), who brings him closer to his strained family.
Ever since I saw “When Harry Met Sally…” Billy Crystal has been on my release radar. He’s enigmatic, humorous, witty, and a natural on-camera. In finding out he released a feel-good flick with Tiffany Haddish a year ago (that he also co-wrote and directed), it was a no-brainer to rent this out of the Redbox for a test run.
“Here Today” holds the classic old-and-young pairing with generational gap humor and “I’m getting too old for this” zingers, while showcasing a more endearing, serious side of things. Crystal’s character of Charlie is slowly losing his mind to dimentia, and it’s through a newfound friendship with a singer named Emma that he’s able to finish a writing piece for his late wife. Charlie’s relationships that are shown in the movie waver; the ones with his kids are strained, and the ones at his workplace are spotty. It’s your run-of-the-mill feel-good that shows themes of friendship, compassion, forgiveness, and acceptance. All to… decent appraisal.
I’m not terribly picky when it comes to films like these. I know what I’m getting, and it’s nice to sit down to something that doesn’t hold such dire of stakes. Crystal breezes through this production in his performance, solidifying what I know to be true about the man. His chemistry with Tiffany Haddish is an interesting and unexpected one, but I found myself enjoying what they had. The jokes aren’t really laugh-out-loud (nor slight chuckle, save for a sparse amount), but the story between them is nice enough to keep me engaged. If anything, it’s a lofty piece of cinema that goes for the heartstrings, even if its tugs aren’t that deep.
Everything from the cinematography to music to ensemble works at a slightly-above-average quality, though I will give credit to a few story elements that stood out. Namely, the style of flashbacks used to paint Charlie’s late wife Carrie (Krause). Say what you will about POV (point-of-view) shots, but I think it worked in the film’s favor. Having Crystal’s voice to back it up lent my mind to visualize him as he was in “When Harry Met Sally…” The moments were bittersweet, albeit sappy for a few parts. But that’s the juice that “Here Today” runs on: sap (if that is indeed a juice).
All in all, “Here Today” is an alright feature that plays it safe. There aren’t twists or turns, nor the amount of depth I believe Crystal and his team were reaching for, but it unfolded nicely enough to keep me entertained. I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes aspect of a fake comedy variety show Crystal’s character was writing for, and his chemistry with Haddish holds the movie together. It pales in comparison to Crystal’s more well-known works, but if you enjoy the guy as a filmmaker, you will appreciate seeing him in this. FINAL SCORE: 74%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer:
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