A touching comedy-drama that might boost your spirits
Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish star in touching comedy-drama Here Today, which recently premiered on Sky Cinema/Now TV in the UK. It’s also available for digital download.
Crystal stars as veteran comedy writer Charlie Burnz who provides some of the scripts for an SNL-like show. Haddish is Emma Payge, a New York street singer who wins a dinner date with the writing legend courtesy of her former boyfriend. The two are likeable and have instant chemistry together. But this is a movie about friendship and not romance so this isn’t another Frankie and Johnny-type movie where the two fall in love with one another, despite the difference in their ages.
Directing here for the first time since Forget Paris in 1995, Crystal has created an enjoyable movie that will please those looking for something gentle and warm-hearted.
Despite the presence of the two great comedy stars, this isn’t a movie that is particularly funny, however. The sketches that Charlie provides for his show aren’t that amusing either, although the studio audience seems to be having a good time.
Still, there are moments that do raise a smile, such as Payge’s predicament when she has an allergic reaction to shellfish at the restaurant where she first meets Charlie. This is also the catalyst for their friendship as rather than just saying goodbye when the dinner date is cut short, Charlie attends the hospital with Payge and even pays for her treatment.
He then goes the extra mile and uncomfortably injects her butt with an EpiPen after taking the unfortunate woman back home. So, while this isn’t a laugh-out-loud type of comedy, the movie isn’t bereft of humour as the two characters bond and grow together during their very unlikely friendship.
But while you won’t be shedding tears with laughter, you might still shed a few tears at the events that happen on screen. This is as much a movie about loss as it is about friendship as Charlie is still trying to get over the death of his wife who passed away after a car accident. She isn’t the only thing he has lost.
As a result of her death, Charlie also lost the respect of his children who partly blame him for what happened. He is also losing his memory as a result of dementia and this becomes a major part of the plotline when Payge decides to support her new-found friend so he doesn’t have to struggle with his illness alone.
Thankfully, despite the sad themes that are inherent within the script, the movie never becomes too maudlin. There is always a scene to add levity whenever things threaten to get too harrowing so don’t expect a lot of doom and gloom when you’re watching. This isn’t to say the movie skirts over the serious issues it presents as it still manages to explore the reality of dementia, such as when Charlie experiences immense confusion on his walk to work. But thanks to the performances of its stars and the light tone of the script, you will still have reason to smile through your tears.
Despite the movie’s strengths, it does fall down in some areas. The cinematography is a little flat so it looks more like a TV movie than a piece of cinema. The music score is unmemorable although this isn’t a big issue when the dialogue matters more than the notes that are being played out in the background. And the broken relationship between Charlie and his daughter is too easily mended so this plotline is a little contrived.
But despite the faults the movie possesses, it’s in no way a waste of time. It’s not a dementia drama on the scale of The Father and Supernova but I don’t think it’s trying to be. This is more about a friendship between two people who not only need each other but who enjoy one another’s company. For this reason, it’s a likeable movie that is warm and engaging during most of its run-time.
Here Today has the right balance of humour and sentimentality to ensure a decent time while watching. Haddish gives one of her best performances here and Crystal is as dependably good as always. It’s not a movie that will linger long in your memory but as it’s light-hearted and hopeful, it might boost your spirits.
Verdict - 7/10