Review: Crystal, Haddish far from comedy gold in clunky 'Here Today'
Billy Crystal co-writes, directs and stars in mismatched comedy that pairs him with Tiffany Haddish
A cringeworthy comedy with two extremely mismatched leads, "Here Today" should be gone today.
Billy Crystal, who also co-wrote and directed the film, stars as aging comedy writer Charlie Berns, who forms an unlikely friendship with street singer Emma Payge (Tiffany Haddish). Little about their relationship rings true, and "Here Today" stumbles to a melodramatic conclusion that mishandles issues relating to mental health and debilitating illness. Some movies shoot and miss, "Here Today" misfires so badly it's unclear where it was even aiming.
Crystal's Charlie is an executive at an "SNL"-like comedy show who is kept around for his deep wells of experience. He meets Haddish's Emma after her ex- won an auction to have lunch with him. Charlie's going rate? All of $22. It's a moment of self-effacement that winds up undercutting his supposed standing in the comedy world.
After their meal goes spectacularly wrong — she eats a mountain of seafood despite being allergic to seafood, which leads to a makeup gag from an altogether different slapstick comedy — Charlie and Emma spend a lot of time together. They don't have much in common, but movies love tossing people together and showing that the more time they spend with one another the closer they become. If only it were that easy.
Charlie is suffering from the early stages of dementia, which he opens up about with Emma. (Not with his kids, who are still harboring resentment toward him over an incident from years prior that was obviously out of his control.) Crystal, in his first directorial effort in 20 years, is exploring matters of platonic love and family dynamics with an attempted light comedic touch. But the chemistry is off, the comedy is all over the place and "Here Today" is best immediately forgotten.
Rated PG-13: for strong language, and sexual references
Running time: 116 minutes