Here Today is a 2021 American comedy drama film directed and produced by Billy Crystal, from a screenplay that he wrote with Alan Zweibel. It stars Crystal, Tiffany Haddish, Penn Badgley, Laura Benanti, and Louisa Krause. The film concerns itself with the rather depressing subject matter of growing old and suffering from dementia. But more than that, Here Today is a film about family and friendship.
Crystal plays Charlie Berns a critically acclaimed writer who has written for theatre and is currently working on a sketch TV programme. Berns is a widow and is somewhat estranged from his son Rex and daughter Francine. Berns is deliberately keeping his distance from his family due to onset of dementia, which he hides from them. But then busking singer Emma Payge (Haddish) enters his life and it is changed irrevocably.
Ostensibly, while Here Today may appear to be a May-December romance, thankfully it is nothing of the sort. Despite differences between Berns and Payge, their friendship blossoms and deepens, till Payge becomes instrumental in Berns’ reconciliation with his family. Here Today shamelessly aims to tug at the heartstrings of the viewer and succeeds for the most part.
The two lead characters are written in a straightforward fashion and rather conservatively. While it is not too difficult to sympathise with Berns’ plight, it is not so clear when analysing Payge’s character as not much background is given about her whatsoever and thus we have to take her motivations at face value.
While the script does a good job in slowly revealing what happened to Berns’ wife Carrie (Lousia Krause) – a major traumatic moment in Berns’ life – the manner in which the flashbacks are presented while innovative, can come across a little jarring at times. Not only that but the key reveal seems to come out of left field and somewhat inconsistent with the kind of flashbacks shown earlier.
All told, Here Today, is a solid feel-good watch and that is good enough for us.
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