Billy Crystal writes, directs and stars in Here Today, a film that feels like it is 40 years old.
Crystal plays Charlie Burnz, a writer for a Saturday Night Live-type sketch show who is dealing with dementia. A subplot has Charlie befriending Emma (Tiffany Haddish), a cabaret singer with a shellfish allergy—and the film’s early scenes involving Emma finding out she has a shellfish allergy are painful to watch.
The way Here Today is filmed feels very 1987—but it’s not. While film is definitely set in the present, 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 here.
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 completely flat. The studio audience in the movie laughed its ass off; you will be stone-faced.
Crystal indulges in a 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 goes from being some sort of romantic comedy to being a straight melodrama, it crashes and burns. Dementia is a tender subject, and Crystal’s approach (he co-wrote the script) is thoroughly awkward.
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.
This really is too bad. It would be cool to get a new Billy Crystal movie where he gets a chance to shine, but nothing here works. It’s a sloppy mixture of romantic comedy, disease-of-the-week flick, slapstick and melodrama that wastes the talents of all involved.
Here Today is playing at theaters across the valley.