Here Today (12A)Cast: Billy Crystal, Laura Benanti, Penn Badgley, Tiffany Haddish
Author(s): Billy Crystal, Alan Zweibel
Director: Billy Crystal
Release Date: 03/09/2021 (selected cinemas)
Running Time: 117mins
Veteran comedy writer Charlie Burnz serves as consiglieri to TV producer Brad on top-rated sketch show This Just In on The Funny Network. Surrounded by overly enthusiastic twenty-somethings in the writers' room, Charlie is the voice of experience. Unbeknownst to his colleagues, Charlie is contending with "a form of dementia". Humdrum routine is shattered when Charlie offers an hour of his time as an auction prize and aspiring singer Emma Payge turns up for lunch.
LondonNet Film Review
Here Today (12A)
Based on former Saturday Night Live writer Alan Zweibel’s short story The Prize, which makes hay from an anecdote about a silent auction, Here Today bids repeatedly to address the issue of dementia through comedy and a May to December romance between director Billy Crystal and co-star Tiffany Haddish. The leads catalyse winning screen chemistry when they trade one-liners and Crystal and Zweibel’s script sings when it gently pokes fun at the serious business of making people laugh behind the scenes at an SNL-style sketch show. Once the tones shifts to reflect on the inexorable, agonising deterioration of a brilliant mind, there’s a clear disconnect between writing and performances, and you can see wheels turning in actors’ minds as they wring out tears on cue…
Haddish’s character is disappointingly light on back story. Aside from an antagonistic relationship with an ex-boyfriend, swiftly distilled in one scene, her feisty chanteuse serves one purpose: to care for Crystal’s showbusiness legend as the fog descends on his mental acuity. It’s impossible to avoid drawing parallels between the lead character and Crystal’s frequent collaborator in rambunctious comic relief, Robin Williams, who took his life following a diagnosis of early Parkinson’s disease. The film’s intent is distressingly heartfelt and sincere, the execution simply falls short.
Veteran comedy writer Charlie Burnz (Crystal) has Emmy and Tony awards on his mantelpiece from a long and distinguished career penning material for stage and screen. He now serves as consiglieri to TV producer Brad (Max Gordon Moore) on top-rated sketch show This Just In on The Funny Network. Surrounded by overly enthusiastic twenty-somethings in the writers’ room, Charlie is the voice of experience and a guiding light to introvert young scribe Darrell (Andrew Durand) whose tenure depends on getting one sketch on air. Unbeknownst to his colleagues, Charlie is contending with “a form of dementia” that requires frequent consultations with his caring physician (Anna Deavere Smith).
Humdrum routine is shattered when Charlie offers an hour of his time as an auction prize and aspiring singer Emma Payge (Haddish) turns up for lunch. Her ex-boyfriend won with a bid of $22 and she is more interested in the seafood platter than Charlie’s company. A violent allergic reaction to mussels quickly dispatches Emma to A&E with Charlie in tow and an unlikely partnership is forged.
Here Today focuses intently on Charlie at the expense of everyone in his orbit. Strained relationships with grown-up children (Penn Badgley, Laura Benanti) are painted in broad strokes and dewy-eyed flashbacks to Charlie’s courtship of his wife (Louisa Krause) keep us at arm’s length from the raw emotion. Finished sketches on This Just In don’t warrant a studio audience’s cacophonous response. It’s the bitterest irony that Crystal’s film slips so effortlessly from the memory.
– Sarah Lee
UK and Irish Cinemas Showing Here Today
From: Friday 10th September
To: Thursday 16th September
Wed 14:30; Thu 19:50
Wed/Thu 13:40 17:00 (Thu)
From: Friday 17th September
To: Thursday 23rd September