Here Today

Rating:

A Seafood Starter

Main Cast: Billy Crystal, Tiffany Haddish

Director: Billy Crystal

It’s been quite a while since I saw Billy Crystal headline a movie. He’s as charming as he’s always been as the star in Here Today. He plays an aging comedy writer (clearly in his wheelhouse) who develops a friendship with a young singer played by Tiffany Haddish.

We open with Charlie (Crystal) walking to work. He writes for a comedy sketch show, acting as mentor to the young writers and the producer. As he walks through the neighborhood, he talks aloud to himself, detailing the route.

Something’s up.

Charlie, as it turns out, is a very famous screenwriter, playwright, and author. Famous enough that having lunch with him was part of a charity auction. His lunch date is Emma (Haddish), who has no idea who he is and used the ticket of her cheating ex.

Through extenuating circumstances the pair finds themselves unlikely friends. As we learn more about Charlie’s unusual walking habits, we begin to understand that he needs a friend, one who doesn’t know his history, isn’t one of his children, and doesn’t expect him to be, well, anything.

The basic premise of Here Today (the odd couple friendship) is as cliché as it gets. Movies like this don’t survive on their clever plotting. They survive on their scripts and their actors.

In this case the script plays to the strengths of both Haddish and Crystal. She is vibrant and fun, he is witty and dry. Their banter is good and we’re treated to a couple of inherently decent people, which is a welcome change of pace.

There’s a nice, easy chemistry between the two that makes Here Today more balanced than other films with the same premise. Haddish doesn’t take a back seat and doesn’t need saving or protecting. The characters don’t fit the mold of the unlikely friendship movie, another nice change of pace.

The supporting cast includes Penn Badgely as Charlie’s son and Laura Benanti as his daughter. They’re underdeveloped but both do well with what they’re given. You’ll see a lot of famous faces doing cameos.

Overall, Here Today was both exactly what I expected and not at all what I expected. The relationship between Charlie and Emma is extremely well-written and allows both actors to shine. Crystal both wrote (with Alan Zweibel) and directed the film and it is kind and human. You can stream it on Starz – I got it through Netflix DVD.

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