Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Movie Review: Billy Crystal's Film Is Depressing For All of the Wrong Reasons

Posted By on Tue, May 11, 2021 at 7:15 AM

Now playing at Harkins Tucson Spectrum 18

Billy Crystal writes, directs and stars in a film that feels like it’s a million years old.

He plays Charlies Burnz, a writer for a Saturday Night Live type sketch show who is dealing with dementia. A subplot has his Charlie befriending Emma (Tiffany Haddish), a cabaret singer with a shellfish allergy. You don’t know pain until you have endured this film’s early scenes involving Emma finding out she has a shellfish allergy. The way it’s filmed feels very 1987.

But it’s not. The film is set in the present (there are cell phones and mentions of social media). Crystal’s movie feels dated. He’s done well behind the camera before (his baseball flick, 61*, was a winner), but he’s bitten off a little more than he can chew on this one.

For starters, the show within a show is about as funny as last week’s episode of Saturday Night Live, which means it isn’t funny at all. It’s distracting how bad the “hit show” is, with its attempts at comedy falling nothing but flat. The studio audience in the movie laughed its ass off but you will be stone-faced.

Crystal indulges in some sort of POV approach involving flashbacks to moments with Charlie’s deceased wife, and these scenes feel staged and stale. There are quite a few of them, which means a lot of Here Today is staged and stale.

When the film switches from some sort of romantic comedy mode to straight melodrama, it crashes and burns. Dementia is a tender subject, and Crystal’s approach (he co-wrote the script) is all wrong. It’s a thoroughly awkward watch.

Haddish tries to make something interesting out of Emma, even sharing a few musical numbers, but she and every character in this film feel out of place.

Too bad. It would be cool to get a new Billy Crystal movie where he gets a chance to shine. Nothing here works, and the movie leaves a bad taste in your mouth. It’s a sloppy mixture of romantic comedy, disease of the week, slapstick and melodrama that wastes the talents of all involved.