"Selfless Love in a Surprising Friendship"
What You Need To Know:
HERE TODAY provides a powerful, universal story of friendship, caring and family reconciliation. Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish deliver superb performances as Charlie and Emma. Tiffany has a great singing voice performing several numbers. HERE TODAY has a strong moral worldview with redemptive elements. It explores forgiveness, selfless love and friendship in an eloquent, heartrending manner. There are also scenes of family reconciliation. This positive content is marred, however, by lots of foul language. There’s also brief lewd humor and a scene where Charlie curses God for his deteriorating condition. So, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for HERE TODAY.
HERE TODAY stars Billy Crystal in the story of a Jewish comedy TV writer in his 70s battling early dementia and the transforming friendship he develops with a thirtysomething black female jazz singer. HERE TODAY is a wonderfully touching, thoughtful and funny story of forgiveness and selfless love for others. Directed and co-written by Billy Crystal in addition to his starring duties, the movie is clearly a labor of love for him. HERE TODAY has a strong moral worldview stressing family reconciliation, selfless love, friendship, and forgiveness in a story featuring devout Jewish believers, but it has an excessive amount of foul language and Crystal’s character curses God at one point when he’s diagnosed with dementia.
The movie follows Charlie Burnz (Crystal), a legendary TV comedy writer who’s now in his 70s and still working on a show called “This Just In!” that’s clearly a stand-in for “Saturday Night Live.” He hangs onto the job because the head writer was his protégé and feels that, aside from still writing some good jokes for the show, Charlie has a great sense of comedy ethics and keeps the younger writers from becoming too crass on the air.
Charlie has an unusually rigid daily routine that includes a rigorous walk to work each day where he tells himself to turn left or right at various spots. His routine hides the fact that he’s secretly battling the onset of dementia, a fact he hasn’t shared with his coworkers or his grown son, daughter and teenage granddaughter.
Charlie’s life is thrown for a loop one day when he has lunch with a 30ish black woman named Emma Page (played by Tiffany Haddish), who won the outing as a prize in a charity raffle. In actuality, she has no idea who Charlie is or why he’s famous, because her now-ex boyfriend bid on the lunch prize because he was a great fan of Charlie’s work, and now she’s using the prize for a free lunch and also to get back at her ex.
However, when Emma, a jazz singer who performs in cabarets and on the streets for tips, has a hilariously bad allergic reaction to a seafood salad and winds up in an ER with no health insurance, Charlie foots the $11,000 bill. Charlie doesn’t expect Emma to repay him, but she enters his life at the most unexpected times to hand him sack fulls of cash as repayment. As a result, an unusual and deep friendship is born.
Charlie’s grown children already resent him for the way their mother died decades ago, but now look at his friendship with Emma in disdain as they assume the two are an odd couple. However, what’s building between Emma and Charlie is infinitely more complex and beautiful. In fact, both of them great things about life from each other as Emma has to decide how close to get to him as Charlie’s mental condition worsens.
HERE TODAY might seem like a politically correct movie since it involves black and white leads coming together, but it doesn’t have any agenda to push. It is simply a powerful, universal story of friendship, caring and reconciliation that almost any mature viewer can enjoy.
Crystal knocks it out of the park in his three roles as lead actor, co-writer and director, delivering what might be his best movie. He works wonders with Tiffany Haddish, a highly talented comedian turned actress who has previously wasted her talents on crass and stupid movies like GIRLS TRIP and LIKE A BOSS. Haddish is a revelation here, a joy to watch in her frequent funny moments and lively spirit, but also beautifully playing the serious emotions that pop up throughout the movie. Perhaps most surprising is her singing ability, as she tears through a series of fun jazz standards, but really gives her all to a show-stopping take on Janis Joplin’s rock classic “Piece of My Heart” at a bat mitzvah reception.
HERE TODAY is Oscar-quality work that sadly most likely be likely ignored since the movie is being lost amid a bunch of pre-summer, wide releases and dumped by its distributor in only 1200 theaters instead of the usual 2500 or more for most major releases. The movie’s handling of dementia and aging is superb, with Crystal believably losing his memory in noticeable yet gradual phases. While he pulls off the drama exceptionally well, especially in a furious rant about his condition, he also has a stunningly energetic comical centerpiece where he bursts onto his TV show’s live set in one scene and delivers an amazing tirade against a hapless cast member’s mispronunciation of dialogue.
HERE TODAY has a strong moral worldview with redemptive elements. It contains a powerful story of familial forgiveness and reconciliation, in a Jewish setting of devout Jewish believers. It also explores forgiveness, selfless love and friendship in a powerful, heartrending manner.
This positive content is marred by one major aspect, however. The movie has an excessive amount of foul language, including two “f” words and four strong profanities. Also, in one scene, Charlie curses God while lamenting the onset of his dementia. Finally, two exchanges of sexual humor occur where a woman jokes about how rambunctious she is in bed. MOVIEGUIDE® therefore advises extreme caution for Billy Crystal’s new movie HERE TODAY.