Review: 'Here Today' is Easy to Love

by Rob Lester

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday July 20, 2021

'Here Today'
'Here Today'  (Source:Sony)

In this seemingly random adventure called life, presumed minor incidents can launch unexpectedly major connection. That's what happens in the engaging "Here Today," when two people who'd seem to have little in common quickly form an uncommonly strong bond.

He: Charlie, successful veteran comedy writer facing his senior years. She: Emma, brash, struggling young singer who's never heard of him; but her ex-boyfriend won a lunch with him in a charity auction and she grabs the prize. As they chat, she has a scarily intense food allergy reaction, and the concerned Charlie follows her to the hospital and lays out big bucks for the uninsured lady's bill, then waits to escort her home. Grateful for the near-stranger's kindness and generosity, she begins repayment and a quirky, sweet, mutually supportive - if unlikely - friendship sparks.

Ever-likable Billy Crystal is star, director, co-writer (with Alan Zweibel), and a producer, as are Zweibel and comedy star Tiffany Haddish, who disarmingly plays the blunt but good-hearted Emma. With smart ,sarcastic characters, the quip-filled film has many LOL moments (plus jokes in the sketch comedy workplace scenes), enough to be satisfying if it were satisfied to merely be an entertaining funny diversion. But "Here Today" ismuch more. It's tender, serious, emotional, occasionally unsettling, and life-affirming.

It's tender, serious, emotional, occasionally unsettling, and life-affirming.

Things seem breezy at first, but soon we see that the generation clashes and artistic differences at work aren't all that burden Charlie. Revealed in increments are deeper challenges: His brave struggles with family tensions, a daunting health challenge, and a past tragedy still haunting him. Humor and humanity are his go-to anchors, and the movie's, too. Perspectives clash, and reality and regrets rear their various ugly heads, but caring and respect are strong forces here. Likewise, we care about and respect many of the characters in the comfortably-paced story, which is set primarily in Manhattan.

Strong performers with roots in theater bring added authenticity and gravitas: Anna Deavere Smith sensitive as the doctor, Laura Benanti as Charlie's resentful daughter, and Andrew Durand, who is especially endearing as new writer needing mentoring. Charlie's deceased beloved wife is seen in dreamy flashbacks, with Louisa Krause bringing a near-magical smile and joie de vivre. And you'll see a few Hollywood names playing themselves in one scene.

In "Here Today," life is rarely easy, but the motion picture is a rare treat that's easy to love.

"Here Today" available today in digital formats and on BLU and DVD August 3.

ROB LESTER returns to Edge in 2019 after several years of being otherwise occupied writing and directing musical theatre shows, working as a dramaturg, arts consultant, and contributing articles and reviews to various outlets. His long-running "Sound Advice" column covering cast albums and vocal CDs has been running regularly at www.TalkinBroadway.com for almost 15 years.