Review by Sean Boelman
Billy Crystal is an absolute legend in the world of comedy, so it is only fitting that his newest film is about a fictional comedy legend. Here Today might be sappy and sentimental, but thanks to a genuinely sweet script, some occasional hilarity, and surprisingly great chemistry between its stars, this is quite the unexpected delight.
The film follows an aging writer on a comedy show who, forced to come to terms with his past, forms an unlikely friendship with a street singer who offers an eye-opening new perspective on the world. It's a story we have seen done before, even within the same setting, but there is still something charming about it nevertheless.
Admittedly, it is frustrating to see a film come out today that reduces a Black character to a magical negro archetype. It would have been nice to see this character have more of an arc of her own, as her purpose in this case is merely to serve the white male protagonist. However, given that the protagonist’s own arc is somewhat uneven itself, the lack of development isn’t entirely unforgivable.
It’s been nice to see Crystal in recent years taking on roles that blend some more dramatic moments with his comedic chops, and this project offers plenty of opportunity in that regard. Tiffany Haddish is also very good in a role that basically consists of a toned-down version of her typical schtick.
The script by Crystal and Alan Zweibel does a good job of balancing the lighter portions with the more somber moments. None of the jokes are super fresh, but they are still funny in a wholesome way. There is this air of comfort that radiates throughout the film’s nearly two-hour runtime and keeps the audience invested.
There is also a very good message in the film about self-care and forgiveness. The film is trying to juggle a lot of different storylines, but the one that is likely to stand out the most to viewers involves the protagonist coming to terms with the death of his wife. It’s a really moving approach to a familiar theme.
Visually, the film isn’t anything special, but that can be mostly expected from a straightforward dramedy like this. The cinematography is a little on the saturated side and the score is a bit heavy-handed, both trademarks of the genre. Still, Crystal knows how to do comedy, and the few big comedy scenes are really great.
Here Today may be slight, and it might not be anything particularly new, but it’s absolutely adorable to watch. This is the type of film to take your parents or grandparents to for a sweetly enjoyable night out.
Here Today is now playing in theaters.