You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself star in mediocre comedies. That quote, which I am paraphrasing, of course, has found itself once again coming true with Billy Crystal’s latest effort, Here Today.
Emma Payge (Tiffany Haddish) wins an auction item that includes a lunch date with comedy writer, Charlie Burnz (Crystal). The thing is, she doesn’t even know who he is. She bid on the item for her ex-boyfriend, who is a big fan of Charlie’s work. After she caught him cheating on her, she decided to go on the lunch date herself. During their lunch, Emma has an allergic reaction and ends up in the emergency room. Charlie accompanies her and their friendship blossoms from there.
As they get to know each other more, we get to know them as well. Charlie is a part of a much younger writing team for a Saturday Night Live-type show. Though he has some form of a relationship with his son, his daughter rarely speaks to him. We also learn that Charlie is losing his memory. Emma, on the other hand, is a street singer who is going through a breakup.
Recipe for Success Turns Out to Be Disaster
On paper, a movie starring Tiffany Haddish and Billy Crystal as an unlikely duo sounds like a delight. The two are comedy super stars of their respective generations. Having the two play off of each other should be a slam dunk. Instead, Here Today features two hilarious people sleepwalking their way through scenes together. Neither sounds prepared to film any of the scenes they are in. Each line of dialogue sounding more hollow than the last and each joke landing with a harder thud.
Both actors are naturally charismatic and yet this movie has found a way to suck any charisma from them. Haddish is especially awkward in the role, repeating dialogue in a tone that sounds completely unnatural. I don’t want to harp on Haddish too much though. I suspect the only reason that Crystal’s delivery sounds slightly more human is because he committed the act of writing and directing the movie!
How the Mighty Have Fallen
For someone who has reached such comedic highs in his career, Crystal inadvertently takes on a similar role to his character. Though some of Charlie’s jokes land, the writers room on the show he works for constantly looks at him with confusion after he shares his ideas. As an audience member, I felt similarly. This is a man who has been a great entertainer for nearly fifty years and yet, almost none of the jokes land. At the same time, the serious moments never feel earned. His delivery is so stunted and wooden that it is hard to believe that he is repeating words that HE wrote. As a fan of Crystal’s, it is genuinely sad to see.
Going into Here Today, I would be lying if I said I had super high hopes. That being said, I at least thought I would get an amusing comedy with two actors that I really enjoy watching. The movie isn’t that. It is an utterly hellacious way to spend two hours. An entirely boring, half-baked film that I can bet the two leads would like to forget they starred in. I know I will have forgotten by tomorrow morning.