Review: Billy Crystal neglects the other characters in the well-meaning ‘Here Today’

Billy Crystal in the movie "Here Today."

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Billy Crystal is always a welcome presence on screen. In his last film, 2019’s “Standing Up, Falling Down,” he played a quirky dermatologist helping a comedian get out of a rut. In “Here Today,” which Crystal wrote and directed (his first feature in 20 years), the tables are turned; he stars as a comedy writer who learns to love life again thanks to an unlikely friendship. A takeoff on the Alan Zweibel short story “The Prize,” Crystal writes himself a honey of a role that he performs with his signature charm and wit. But he seems to have forgotten to write any of the other roles with the same depth, which is a darn shame.

Forgetting is the central conceit of “Here Today.” Charlie (Crystal) is a legendary comedy writer grappling with his dementia diagnosis. Though his short-term memory is slipping, Charlie’s past tends to come rushing back in overwhelming flashbacks, and he initially tries to hide his struggle from his family and co-workers at a “Saturday Night Live”-like late-night sketch show. Unexpected salvation arrives in the form of a wacky subway singer, Emma ( Tiffany Haddish ), who waltzes into his life over lunch.

This meet-cute, the result of a charity auction, and a subsequent seafood-triggered allergic reaction, makes up the totality of the short story. From that strange encounter, Crystal and former “SNL” writer Zweibel (the pair also collaborated on the Broadway show “700 Sundays”) extrapolate the dementia, the odd-couple friendship that blossoms between Emma and Charlie and the comedy show, taking Zweibel’s nugget of story and running with it.

The comedy show, featuring some intentionally ghastly sketches, is the cleverest subplot, exploring the comedy generation gap. But it’s not well-integrated into the main story of Emma and Charlie’s friendship, and the film feels disjointed. Plus, Emma and Charlie’s friendship is so outlandishly fantastical, one may pause to wonder if Emma is a real person, or some kind of apparition who only appears to Charlie.

Tiffany Haddish and Billy Crystal in the movie "Here Today."

Emma is a dreaded combination of stereotypical character tropes. She’s a Manic Pixie Dream Girl by way of the Magical Negro , her character serving only to cheer up Charlie and spur him to work on his memoir. All we know about Emma’s life is that she sings in a band called Slippery When Wet, and she has an ex-boyfriend whom she’s dead-set on making jealous through her friendship with Charlie. Her personality is “outgoing” and “funny hats,” but we haven’t a clue as to her background, where she’s from, her hopes, her pain, what makes her so cheerful in the first place or why she even wants to be friends with Charlie. The same goes for every other character in Charlie’s orbit, and that is the film’s fatal flaw.

As a performer, Haddish normally brings a jolt of chaotic energy to liven the proceedings. But here, likely because the character is so underwritten, she feels tight, the fun forced. Emma’s function is merely to support Charlie and loosen up stuffy white people, and the lack of anything authentic for Haddish to riff on is palpable.

It’s hard to pick apart a film that is as well-intentioned as “Here Today,” which earnestly wants to celebrate life, and every beautiful, tragic, poignant and surprising moment. But for a film that seeks to be so humanist, there’s only one truly human character in it. As likable as he is, that oversight is impossible to ignore.

Katie Walsh is a Tribune News Service film critic.

‘Here Today’

Rated: PG-13, for strong language, and sexual references Running time: 1 hour 56 minutes Playing: Starts Friday in general release where theaters are open

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‘here today’: film review.

Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish star in Crystal's new directorial effort, a dramedy about the friendship between a man entering the early stages of dementia and an aspiring singer.

By Frank Scheck

Frank Scheck

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Here Today

Imagine The Father if Anthony Hopkins’ character was a joke-telling comedy machine spewing out one-liners. That’s the net effect of Billy Crystal ‘s new directorial effort (arriving 20 years after his last, 61* ), which he also co-wrote and stars in. Attempting to blend a poignant portrait of a man entering the early stages of dementia, a feel-good story about an unusual friendship and copious doses of comic shtick, Here Today doesn’t fully succeed in any department. But it does provide some alternately amusing and touching moments, thanks largely to the heartfelt performances by Crystal and his co-star Tiffany Haddish .

The comedy-drama, inspired by a semi-autobiographical short story written by Crystal’s frequent collaborator (and co-screenwriter) Alan Zweibel, revolves around a character tailor-made for the veteran star’s talents. He plays Charlie Burnz (even the name sounds vaudevillian), an aging comedy writer who serves as a sort of elder statesman on the writing staff of a Saturday Night Live -style sketch comedy show. Charlie’s condition is hinted at in the film’s opening moments, when he’s shown carefully using simple memorized instructions to venture from his home to his workplace.

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Taking the idea of “meet cute” to the extreme, the story kicks into gear when Charlie goes to lunch with the winner of a charity auction who, as he learns to his chagrin, paid a mere $22 for the privilege. It also turns out that his dining companion, Emma Payge (Haddish), an aspiring singer, didn’t even win the prize herself, but co-opted it out of spite after discovering her boyfriend cheating on her. The meal eventually turns disastrous when she suffers a severe allergy attack after eating a giant shellfish tower and Charlie has to take her to the hospital and winds up paying her medical bills.

The scene is apparently based on a true incident in Zweibel’s life, but the way it’s played here gives a quick indication that subtlety will not be the film’s forte. After the allergy attack kicks in, Emma doesn’t just swell up and have difficulty breathing. Instead, her face instantly becomes horribly distorted, and her comically garbled attempts at speaking sound like Bill Cosby performing his classic “Dentist” routine.

Crystal’s irresistible impulse to go for big laughs inevitably gives the film a schizophrenic quality from which it never recovers. The unlikely platonic friendship that develops between the pair (they do spoon at one point, but thankfully that’s as far as it goes) is depicted in such scenes as their visiting Madame Tussauds, providing the two stars the opportunity to pose with a variety of wax figures while exchanging one-liners as if competing in a joke-off. At another point, Charlie brings Emma as his date to his granddaughter’s bat-mitzvah. She quickly enlivens the stodgy affair with her sheer lifeforce, getting the elderly attendees to dance wildly as she performs a down-and-dirty rendition of Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” (Emma’s repertoire is strangely retro, perhaps reflective of the fact that the character was created by two elderly men. At another point in the film, she sings Fats Waller’s “Your Feet’s Too Big.”)

Many of the dialogue’s gags are funny, especially as delivered by such pros as Crystal and Haddish. The former displays his decades-honed, pitch-perfect timing and inflections, especially as compared to a performer on the sketch comedy show who consistently places the wrong emphases on words, much to Charlie’s consternation. Charlie’s growing anger leads to one of the film’s more entertaining, if improbable, scenes, when he launches an impromptu on-air tirade against the offending cast member that delights the show’s studio audience and becomes a viral sensation.

At other times, you can feel the screenplay straining too hard for Neil Simonesque rat-a-tat jokes, as when Charlie, invited by Emma to dance, informs her, “I’m a very dangerous dancer. I’m one of the few people who have mambo insurance.” You can almost hear the silent rimshot.

Haddish, faced with the challenging task of going toe-to-toe with a comedy legend, wisely underplays, giving one of her more restrained performances that gets the desired laughs while effectively mining the serious moments as well.

The dramatic segments are even more forced, especially the POV flashbacks in which Charlie recalls his courtship and marriage with the beautiful Carrie (Louisa Krause), whose tragic untimely death continues to haunt him. While the stylistic choice eliminates the need for Crystal to be awkwardly de-aged or substituted with a younger actor, it also proves alienating.

Everything about the film, which runs a little under two hours but feels longer, registers as vaguely overstuffed, down to the needless celebrity cameos including Itzhak Perlman performing an impromptu violin solo on the balcony of his apartment, and Kevin Kline, Sharon Stone and director Barry Levinson playing themselves taking part in a panel discussion in which Charlie’s deteriorating mental state becomes painfully evident. The brief appearances smack more of Crystal’s well-stocked rolodex than dramatic necessity. Meanwhile, such supporting players as Penn Badgley, Laura Benanti and Anna Deveare Smith are unable to make very much of their underwritten roles.

Here Today certainly means well, delivering inspiring messages about living in the moment and savoring the meaningful relationships that make life worth living. It’s a hard film to dislike. But it’s also one that, much like Charlie’s fading memories, won’t linger very long either.

Production companies: Astute Films, Face Productions, Big Head Productions Distributor: Stage 6 Films Cast: Billy Crystal, Tiffany Haddish, Penn Badgley, Laura Benanti, Louisa Krause, Anna Deavere Smith, Nyambi Nyambi Director: Billy Crystal Screenwriters: Billy Crystal, Alan Zweibel Producers: Fred Bernstein, Billy Crystal, Dominique Telso, Alan Zweibel, Tiffany Haddish Executive producers: Rick Jackson, Claudine Marrotte, Samantha Sprecher Director of photography: Vanja Cernjul Production designer: Andrew Jackness Editor: Kent Beyda Costume designer: Cynthia Flynt Composer: Charlie Rosen Casting: Tara Rubin

116 minutes

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Memorable dementia comedy has sex jokes, strong language.

Here Today Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Value the time and relationship you have with some

Positive depiction of platonic love in the form of

Several sexually suggestive jokes. Plot includes f

Strong language includes "ass," "balls," "bulls--t

Smoking in one scene by supporting characters. Men

Parents need to know that Here Today is a compassionate dramedy that was directed and co-written by Billy Crystal, who also stars as Charlie, a widower who's trying to keep his growing memory loss a secret. The movie's message about appreciating loved ones while they're with us is solid, but the lasting…

Positive Messages

Value the time and relationship you have with someone today, since there's no assurance they'll be there tomorrow. Encourages empathy.

Positive Role Models

Positive depiction of platonic love in the form of a friendship between two people who are different in just about every way. Diversity within the cast. Emma is a positive, supportive influence in Charlie's life. Charlie is an excellent mentor and enjoys a great relationship with his granddaughter. Jewish culture and rituals are portrayed.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Several sexually suggestive jokes. Plot includes focus on Charlie's love for his late wife, with flashbacks to their romance, including waking up in bed together. Woman's rear end is partially exposed while she's getting a shot.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

Strong language includes "ass," "balls," "bulls--t," "damn," "goddammit," "s--t," and a couple uses of "f--k." Name-calling is used to humiliate.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Smoking in one scene by supporting characters. Mention of the consequences of drug use.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Here Today is a compassionate dramedy that was directed and co-written by Billy Crystal , who also stars as Charlie, a widower who's trying to keep his growing memory loss a secret. The movie's message about appreciating loved ones while they're with us is solid, but the lasting impression is of walking in the shoes of a terrified dementia patient who suddenly can't remember how to get to work or recognize family and friends. Events surround a granddaughter's bat mitzvah, and Jewish culture is a key element of the film. Charlie is a veteran comedy writer who mentors a young up-and-comer, offering real-world comedy writing tips. But some of his character's jokes feel problematic in today's world, including ones about the late Stephen Hawking and a tirade humiliating a co-worker that includes an audience chanting an insult at a performer. Co-star Tiffany Haddish 's character also makes quite a few sex jokes, and part of her rear end is seen when she gets a shot. Sex is implied in a flashback scene. Strong language includes "s--t" and "f--k," there's one scene that includes smoking, and characters touch on the consequences of drug use. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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  • Parents say (2)

Based on 2 parent reviews

Enjoyable to see Billy Crystal direct and star in this heartfelt passion project

What's the story.

In HERE TODAY, a winning celebrity auction bid brings together aging TV comedy writer Charlie ( Billy Crystal ) and young street singer Emma ( Tiffany Haddish ), whose lunch meeting turns into an evening at the hospital. As their friendship grows, Charlie's cognitive health starts to decline, and they find themselves in undefined territory when it comes to love, trust, and support.

Is It Any Good?

To create empathy for those dealing with dementia, Crystal cleverly creates a memorable comedy that allows viewers to walk in the shoes of someone whose moments of memory loss are increasing. Thankfully, the movie's humor doesn't center on Charlie's impairments; instead, the funny comes from all of the other moments. Having Charlie write for a sketch comedy show creates a scenario that lets viewers laugh with ease, and casting Haddish always ensures crack-up scenes. The balance between comedy, heart, and head is excellent. It's the hand that's too heavy.

Crystal has so much to say and apparently not enough films in which to say it, so he and co-writer Alan Zweibel cram a little too much in to Here Today . Emma and Charlie's relationship is beautiful, exploring the idea that even for a man who's known to date younger women, sometimes love takes the form of platonic companionship. But it's never clear exactly why vibrant Emma prioritizes her friendship with Charlie over every other thing in her life. Haddish also feels a bit shoehorned into the role: Whenever she's allowed to fly, it's great fun, but most of the time she's restrained, as if the role was initially intended for someone else. Then there's the stiff relationship between Charlie and his children, his granddaughter's bat mitzvah, and Charlie's constant memories of his late wife, floating in and out of the scenes. And in between Charlie's complicated life, there's work -- including the young writer (Andrew Durand) he's mentoring. While it all comes together, sometimes the effect is mawkish, melodramatic, and a little much.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about how dementia is portrayed in Here Today . How does Charlie's condition affect him and his family?

Why do you think movies centered on platonic love are rare? Is it important to show that men and women can have deep, non-romantic relationships?

The outrageous origin of Charlie and Emma's meeting is actually based on a true story, including the $22 winning bid and the allergic-reaction hospital visit. What does this tell us about how we can view life's challenges?

Charlie mentors a new writer and, in doing so, explains to viewers how to write comedy. Similarly, in Crystal's movie Throw Momma from the Train , his character is a writing teacher who gives actual tips on how to write murder mysteries. How does this device help viewers be more informed about the production they're watching?

How does this movie encourage empathy ? Why is that an important character strength ?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : May 7, 2021
  • On DVD or streaming : August 3, 2021
  • Cast : Billy Crystal , Tiffany Haddish , Penn Badgley
  • Director : Billy Crystal
  • Inclusion Information : Female actors, Black actors
  • Studio : Stage 6 Films
  • Genre : Comedy
  • Topics : Brothers and Sisters , Friendship
  • Character Strengths : Empathy
  • Run time : 117 minutes
  • MPAA rating : PG-13
  • MPAA explanation : strong language and sexual references
  • Last updated : June 2, 2023

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‘Here Today’: Tiffany Haddish and Billy Crystal Are a Rude Duo, Not an Odd Couple

By K. Austin Collins

K. Austin Collins

The doctor asks, “May I ask what your relationship is?” And Tiffany Haddish and Billy Crystal — whose roles in their new comedy Here Today are more fun to imagine if you pretend the actors are playing themselves, so we’ll keep calling them Tiffany Haddish and Billy Crystal — say, in unison, “I dunno.” It’s one of the running, mild jokes of the movie that people can’t quite seem to make up their minds as to what’s going on between this unlikely-seeming pair. They’re either too polite to assume the obvious or too rude not to. Hence the fun in imagining that Haddish and Crystal are playing themselves — fun which, because the movie more or less gets lost in its own, sticky-sweet emotional sauce, the audience may as well sneak into the proceedings on their own, like contraband snacks. 

So. Haddish and Crystal: a couple? Certainly they’re together often. Haddish uses Crystal to make an ex-boyfriend jealous, which stings all the more for her ex being the reason she befriended the older man to begin with. Crystal brings Haddish as a date to his granddaughter’s bat mitzvah, to the utter distress of his daughter Francine ( Laura Benanti ) and the bemusement of his son Rex ( Penn Badgley ), so-named because he was born in a museum, under a T-Rex skeleton. Yeah, it’s that kind of movie. Gently humorous and often cute, until its most saccharine instincts take the wheel. It’s a welcome dash of rom-com nostalgia, too, harkening back to those New Yorky, stroll-in-the-park Billy Crystal romances of yore, with their tamped-down chaos and likable personalities; movies in which it always seems to be fall — the chill in the air fresh, the leaves a lush orange, no one sweaty and disgusting, none of the city’s landmarks overcrowded. 

But Here Today is a curiosity, too, precisely because of the attractively uneven qualities of its stars, and because of what the movie does and doesn’t make of them. I’ll spoil it: They aren’t a couple. Maybe that’s because the May-December romance narrative is a bit played or because, as Crystal recently said , the comedy scene nowadays is a “minefield”; maybe it’s because the idea of sexual chemistry between these two actors simply wouldn’t make sense, even if that idea does have the makings of a great satire. 

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Whatever the reason, Here Today is more friend-romance than romance, and because of that it has the benefit of putting two naturally funny, charismatic stars in each others’ orbit for no other reason than because the cameras are rolling. Good enough for me. Haddish and Crystal do go through a good chunk of the usual movie-couple motions, though, minus the bedroom variety. They have a meet-cute in which, not recognizing who Crystal is, Haddish holds a Wikipedia page up to the face of every older white gentleman in a restaurant to find him — a classic case of white guy face-blindness. Her character, Emma Payge, winds up in the hospital (long story), and Charlie Berns (Crystal), winds up footing the bill. It’s not exactly star-cross’d, but paying Charlie back in increments from the money she makes doing singing gigs gives Emma an excuse to keep showing up and getting to know the guy. 

We, on the other hand, only grow too acquainted with Charlie, a semi-famous comedy writer for an SNL -like show who, flashbacks to better and worse times in his life tell us, has suffered some great tragedy. He is also, we learn early on, suffering from early stage dementia. This dilemma is ultimately what sits at the core of the movie — to a fault, really, because of how the script (co-written by Crystal and Alan Zweibel, an original writer on Saturday Night Live ) weaves it the rest of the story. The half of Here Today that goes down easy is by and large the Haddish half, with a few helpings of scenes set at Charlie’s job, in a writer’s room, that aren’t really funny, but are likable easygoing, hitting the right notes in the right way at the right time. Haddish, a comic force that can unleash a whirlwind when she wants to, keeps a lid on her wilder talents here, but not so much so that she can’t make Crystal blush, as with her jokes about how, if they did have sex, she’d break his back — she’s just too much for the guy.

She really is, isn’t she? Inevitably, the movie is most interested in Charlie, and while Emma is hardly a mere accessory, she’s too vibrant a force to remain so little-known by the end of the movie. She makes a selfless choice late in the plot which, instead of moving us, only draws attention to how little of that “self” had entered the picture, to begin with. It’s of a piece with what makes Here Today a likable but unmistakable misfire, proving unsatisfying for the narrowed-in view of the story it’s most committed to telling: about Charlie, his illness, and the family dilemma running parallel to that illness. A climactic scene, played at the expense of one of the SNL -wannabes (and sort of funny to imagine as a bit of shade toward the real Saturday Night Live ), loses the thread when its mild comedy morphs into totalizing dementia melodrama, a high in the movie conceived only to knock Charlie back down to the lowest of lows. This is too bad for a movie that’s good enough at the smaller things: Charlie’s mentorship of a soft spoken colleague who has potential, his friendship with Emma, cute cameos from the likes of Itzhak Perlman. The movie certainly has heart; its purpose is unmistakable. But the spark — for which it has all the necessary ingredients — is somehow missing.

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  • DVD & Streaming
  • Comedy , Drama , Romance

Content Caution

Billy Crystal as Charlie Berns walks down a street in Here Today

In Theaters

  • May 7, 2021
  • Billy Crystal as Charlie Berns; Tiffany Haddish as Emma Payge; Laura Benanti as Francine; Penn Badgley as Rex; Louisa Krause as Carrie; Audrey Hsieh as Lindsay; Anna Deavere Smith as Dr. Vidor

Home Release Date

  • July 20, 2021
  • Billy Crystal


  • Sony Pictures

Movie Review

Charlie Berns’ first love has always been language.

He might not have always said so. I mean, he was married , for crying out loud, and his now-deceased wife Carrie would’ve been offended (even if she kinda knew). He fiercely loves his grown kids (Rex and Francine) and his granddaughter, Lindsay.

But his words—written, spoken, recited on the Broadway stage or mumbled in comic monologues—came first. They made him happy, those little jokes he wrote, and they made other people happy, too. He loved making people laugh, and they loved him for it: They bought tickets to his plays and showered him with awards. And whenever Charlie had to make a choice between two loves—spending time with his wife or making sure a joke landed just so —the punchline always won.

But now Charlie worries that his words may leave him. Just like his memories are beginning to.

Charlie’s in the early stages of some form of dementia. His doctor isn’t sure what label to slap on the condition just yet, but it doesn’t really matter. Charlie knows that, more than likely, everything he is and everything he knows will slip away, inch by inch.

He hasn’t told anyone—not even his kids. Not time yet , he tells himself. While he sometimes forgets names and can lose track of where he is, Charlie’s still Charlie. He still writes for This Just In , a sketch comedy show in the mold of Saturday Night Live . He still walks to work, still keeps track of his appointments. Why, he has a lunch date of sorts right now, in fact, with a stranger who “won” him during a charity auction: a fan, no doubt, and Charlie still remembers how to treat a fan.

But when Emma sits down, she’s clearly no fan. Her ex-boyfriend was actually the lucky winner, nabbing a lunch with Charlie for the bargain price of $22. But when Emma caught the guy cheating on her, she nabbed the winning ticket out of spite. She wouldn’t know Charlie Berns from Charlie Brown.

But hey, a free lunch is a free lunch, am I right? So she promptly orders the deluxe seafood salad (extra seafood, please) with an added lobster tail right on top.

Alas, Emma is allergic to seafood.

It’s a surprise to everyone. But after a trip to the emergency room, an epinephrine shot and $2,000—two grand flying straight out of Charlie’s wallet, by the way—and she’s just fine.

As the weeks go by and Emma slowly pays Charlie back (a paper bag full of bills at a time), they become friends. Charlie makes Emma laugh. Emma makes Charlie smile. Soon, the two spend whatever free time they have together.

Words might be Charlie’s first love. But as those words slip away, Emma might sidle in somewhere and provide a little love and support of her own.   

Positive Elements

Charlie and Emma’s difficult-to-define relationship serves as the centerpiece of Here Today . As the two grow closer, even they struggle to define who and what they are to each other. Friends? Something more? It’s difficult to say.

But if the relational label is fuzzy, the affection and compassion they have for each other is not. The two get along incredibly well despite their obvious differences—an age gap of decades perhaps chief among them. And even when their friendship requires sacrifices—especially on Emma’s part—both are willing to make them.

But the movie’s not just about Charlie’s new relationship; it’s about old ones, too—especially with his grown children.

Charlie and his daughter, Francine, don’t get along that well these days. Their relationship has taken some hits over the decades. She (and her brother, Rex) probably have reason to be mad. But as the story, and as Charlie’s condition, both progress, Here Today moves into a space that allows healing and reconciliation.

Spiritual Elements

Charlie and his family are Jewish, and granddaughter Lindsay’s bat mitzvah is another major part of the plot. Lindsay chants from the Torah as an approving rabbi looks on. During the ceremony itself (inside a synagogue festooned with Jewish symbols), Lindsay cracks a philosophical joke (about life being a cookie), courtesy her “Papa Charlie.” At the reception later, people dance traditional Jewish dances and wear yarmulkes. Emma enjoys herself so much at the reception that she declares she’ll be converting soon.

Charlie unleashes a profane tirade toward God after his doctor tells him that the dementia is progressing quickly. “This God is a real jokester, isn’t He?” he shouts. “’Hey, live your whole life and you won’t remember any of it!’”

During a television comedy sketch, a character (the Incredibly Single Guy) threatens listeners with the “wrath of my god … the great Zoomgali.” Another segment on the show uses Jesus’ name simultaneously as a reference to the person and as a profanity. We see a wax statue of Pope Francis, which Charlie and Emma joke about. We see the words “atheist mantis” written on a white board. Someone briefly appears in a devil costume.

Sexual Content

When someone asks Charlie and Emma whether they’ve had sex, both say simultaneously, “We’ve spooned.” As far as the movie’s concerned, that’s as close to sex as the two of them get. Indeed, the most physical intimacy we see between them extends to just a bit of handholding and some light kisses on the cheek and forehead. But we hear quite a bit of sexual dialogue anyway.

Emma repeatedly (and graphically) tells Charlie that the two of them are sexually incompatible. “Your frail little body would not be able to handle all these groceries!” she tells him at one point. But when they run into Emma’s ex, Emma lies and tells him that she and Charlie are sleeping together (again, using more frank terminology). Both Rex and Francine are concerned that she and Charlie are seriously dating—in part because both have unpleasant memories of how Charlie dated much younger women after their mother died.

Charlie reminisces about his wife, Carrie, often. “The sexiest thing about her—she made me laugh,” he says. But that was hardly where their relationship stopped. In flashback, Charlie and his then-girlfriend Carrie lie in bed together. In another scene, Charlie holds a stick of butter—ostensibly to get tar off the souls of Carrie’s feet. “De-tar me,” Carrie tells him, adding suggestively, “But seems a shame to waste the butter on my foot.” Later, when Carrie’s about to give birth to their first child, a doctor removes her panties (we see the underwear but nothing critical). Carrie quips that he’s being rather forward for a first date.

Comedy sketches include references to sex and sexual acts, including some very graphic and anatomical allusions to them. We see a bit of Emma’s bare bum and a “SLIPPERY WHEN WET” tattoo on it—the name of Emma’s band. During a reception, she dances a bit suggestively (albeit jokingly) with a few attendees. Charlie wonders at first whether Emma is a pole dancer. (She’s not.) The two make some crass jokes involving some wax figurines. One of Charlie’s old plays features two married people having an affair, and we see the illicit couple kiss in a bathroom during a Halloween party. There’s a mild double entendre involving a Herman Melville book.

Violent Content

A confused Charlie freezes while walking in the middle of an intersection: A biker crashes to avoid him, and a taxi driver nearly hits the old man.

[ Spoiler warning ] We learn that Charlie’s wife died in a head-on traffic accident.

Crude or Profane Language

The film pushes the limits of PG-13 territory, language-wise, using two f-words and nearly a dozen s-words. We also hear “a–,” “b–ch,” “b–tard,” “crap,” “d–n,” “h—” and “p-ssed.” God’s name is misused 15 times—three of those with the word “d–n”—and Jesus’ name is abused twice.

Drug and Alcohol Content

In a flashback, Carrie smokes. We learn that a kid “loaded on pills” was involved in a serious traffic accident. Emma receives an epinephrine shot and is prescribed more medication. Charlie’s on plenty of meds himself. We see people drink wine with dinner.

Other Negative Elements

A comedy sketch is predicated completely on toilet humor (and on the fact that the flushing toilet was invented by someone named Thomas Crapper). Another sketch culminates in a television audience chanting “dumb turd” (which is later referenced in a Twitter missive).

Charlie discusses his cranky bowels with his doctor. When Charlie has to inject Emma’s rear with an epi pen, he admits he didn’t close his eyes (and thus saw a tattoo on her rump). He says that you don’t want to be doing stuff in that region with your eyes closed, because the epi pen “could’ve ended up someplace that we both would not have been happy about.”

During a meeting for the television sketch show This Just In , the producer considers placing a sketch involving sexual consent—along with some really graphic anatomical descriptions—at the top of the show. Charlie disagrees: The sketch is just too crude for that kind of plum placement.

When someone tells Charlie that those crude lines got a huge laugh, Charlie says that crudity always gets a laugh. “But is it the right kind of laugh?” he adds.

That scene tells us something: It tells us what kind of movie its makers wanted Here Today to be, but it also reminds us where the film falls short.

Here Today tackles the issue of dementia—a condition that’s having a bit of a pop-culture moment right now. And in its depiction of an aging comic legend striking up a mostly platonic relationship with an unexpected new best friend, the movie means well. It wants to be the right kind of story.

The fact that it’s not is at least partly aesthetic. Directed by and starring the legendary Billy Crystal, Here Today seems guilty of trying too hard. The jokes and the emotions both feel strained. And while the film took pains to acknowledge and explain the weirdness in Charlie’s and Emma’s relationship—hoping to redeem it—I kept thinking about whether there’d be a legal battle over Charlie’s will after he passes.

But the movie also pushed into some other areas of concern. While Charlie believes that jokes can be too cheap, that doesn’t stop him or others from mining the bathroom and bedroom for gags of their own. It’s almost like he’s working with an unspoken ratio: 80% smart, 20% smutty , perhaps. But for many viewers, especially moms and dads thinking about their kids watching, that ratio will still feel out of whack.

Taking a serious subject and making us laugh about it just might be one of the most difficult tricks in moviemaking—the equivalent of a tightrope walk in a strong breeze. I like that Here Today tried to walk that rope. But still, can’t ignore that the film lost its footing along the way.

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Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

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‘Here Today’ (2021) Movie Review – A touching comedy-drama that might boost your spirits

A touching comedy-drama that might boost your spirits

Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish star in touching comedy-drama Here Today, which recently premiered on Sky Cinema/Now TV in the UK. It’s also available for digital download.

Crystal stars as veteran comedy writer Charlie Burnz who provides some of the scripts for an SNL-like show. Haddish is Emma Payge, a New York street singer who wins a dinner date with the writing legend courtesy of her former boyfriend. The two are likeable and have instant chemistry together. But this is a movie about friendship and not romance so this isn’t another Frankie and Johnny -type movie where the two fall in love with one another, despite the difference in their ages.

Directing here for the first time since Forget Paris in 1995, Crystal has created an enjoyable movie that will please those looking for something gentle and warm-hearted.

Despite the presence of the two great comedy stars, this isn’t a movie that is particularly funny, however. The sketches that Charlie provides for his show aren’t that amusing either, although the studio audience seems to be having a good time.

Still, there are moments that do raise a smile, such as Payge’s predicament when she has an allergic reaction to shellfish at the restaurant where she first meets Charlie. This is also the catalyst for their friendship as rather than just saying goodbye when the dinner date is cut short, Charlie attends the hospital with Payge and even pays for her treatment.

He then goes the extra mile and uncomfortably injects her butt with an EpiPen after taking the unfortunate woman back home. So, while this isn’t a laugh-out-loud type of comedy, the movie isn’t bereft of humour as the two characters bond and grow together during their very unlikely friendship.

But while you won’t be shedding tears with laughter, you might still shed a few tears at the events that happen on screen. This is as much a movie about loss as it is about friendship as Charlie is still trying to get over the death of his wife who passed away after a car accident. She isn’t the only thing he has lost.

As a result of her death, Charlie also lost the respect of his children who partly blame him for what happened. He is also losing his memory as a result of dementia and this becomes a major part of the plotline when Payge decides to support her new-found friend so he doesn’t have to struggle with his illness alone.

Thankfully, despite the sad themes that are inherent within the script, the movie never becomes too maudlin. There is always a scene to add levity whenever things threaten to get too harrowing so don’t expect a lot of doom and gloom when you’re watching. This isn’t to say the movie skirts over the serious issues it presents as it still manages to explore the reality of dementia, such as when Charlie experiences immense confusion on his walk to work. But thanks to the performances of its stars and the light tone of the script, you will still have reason to smile through your tears.

Despite the movie’s strengths, it does fall down in some areas. The cinematography is a little flat so it looks more like a TV movie than a piece of cinema. The music score is unmemorable although this isn’t a big issue when the dialogue matters more than the notes that are being played out in the background. And the broken relationship between Charlie and his daughter is too easily mended so this plotline is a little contrived.

But despite the faults the movie possesses, it’s in no way a waste of time. It’s not a dementia drama on the scale of The Father and Supernova but I don’t think it’s trying to be. This is more about a friendship between two people who not only need each other but who enjoy one another’s company. For this reason, it’s a likeable movie that is warm and engaging during most of its run-time.

Here Today has the right balance of humour and sentimentality to ensure a decent time while watching. Haddish gives one of her best performances here and Crystal is as dependably good as always. It’s not a movie that will linger long in your memory but as it’s light-hearted and hopeful, it might boost your spirits.

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‘Here Today’ Film Review: Billy Crystal Dementia Dramedy Is No ‘The Father’

Tiffany Haddish isn’t given much of a character to play, but at least she gets to sing

Here Today

There’s an unwritten rule that when comedy professionals make movies about comedy professionals — be they stand-ups, late-night sketch stars, or talk-show gag-writers — the jokes made by the comedians-within-the-movie are almost never funny. That’s certainly the case with “Here Today,” although the thudding attempts at humor are the least of the movie’s problems.

Director, star, and co-writer Billy Crystal, back on the crying-on-the-inside beat some three decades after “Mr. Saturday Night,” wants viewers to chuckle and weep with this tale of a legendary comedy writer facing the grim realities of oncoming dementia, but “Here Today” takes pretty much everything “The Father” did right and does it wrong, and as a bonus, reduces the elemental force that is Tiffany Haddish to a magical caregiver.

Crystal stars as Charlie Burnz, a legendary comic scribe who succeeded in movies, TV, and on Broadway and now works as a staff writer for a live late-night show whose executive producer keeps Charlie around as the arbiter of quality comedy. (The boss defends Charlie in a clunky scene that feels like an outtake from Aaron Sorkin’s infamous “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.”) Charlie’s still got jokes, but his memory is going — he has to remind himself of every turn he needs to take on his daily walk to the studio, and his bulletin board is covered with pictures and post-its to remind him who certain people are.

Tiffany Haddish Billy Crystal Here Today

He meets singer Emma Payge (Haddish) for lunch, thinking she was the winning bidder at a charity auction; it turns out her cheating actor boyfriend bought the lunch, and she took it from him, not even knowing who Charlie is. When Charlie takes Emma to the hospital after a severe allergic reaction to the seafood salad, an unlikely friendship is born. (Good thing, since the movie never gives either character any other friends to speak of.)

He goes to see her perform, and she attends a Q&A of one of his old movies at Lincoln Center; when Charlie forgets the names of Barry Levinson and Sharon Stone (both playing themselves) onstage, Emma realizes his memory is starting to go. Charlie opens up to her about it, and she begins texting him prompts to get him to remember his late, beloved wife Carrie (Louisa Krause, “Dark Waters”) so he can write a book about their life together before his ability to remember is gone.

Kids Say the Darndest Things Tiffany Haddish

This is a premise with potential, but “Here Today” squanders its opportunity with too many clichés (Charlie has a Deep, Dark Secret that the movie takes forever to reveal) and by forcing Emma to pivot from hard-working singer on the rise to someone who will happily put her career on the shelf to take care of Charlie. Even though Charlie has a strained relationship with his two adult children (for reasons having to do with the Deep, Dark Secret), the movie is filled with people gushing over his talent, his brilliant sense of humor, and his nurturing of young talent. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but when Crystal is playing Charlie, directing the movie, and writing those lines (with Alan Zweibel, on whose story the film is based), it all feels uncomfortably self-congratulatory.

There are a few stand-out moments, whether it’s Haddish entertainingly belting out some blues numbers or Crystal capturing the terror and confusion on the day that Charlie’s walk to work is interrupted by a street closure, as cabbies honk and New York pedestrians shriek at him. And you certainly have to give it up for a movie that manages to work in an Itzhak Perlman cameo.

Chris Redd Elon Musk

For a movie by and about funny people, though, the one-liners tend to land with a thud, whether they’re performed on the sketch show or bantered between Charlie and Emma on a walk-through of Madame Tussaud’s. As New York movies go, the cinematography by Vanja Cernjul (“Crazy Rich Asians”) is so flatly generic that they could have shot the whole thing in Calgary.

“Here Today” tries hard to be warm and witty and ultimately devastating and poignant, but it remains firmly in the mushy middle of sitcom sentiment, with lessons learned and hugs exchanged and an “aww” from the studio audience. If Charlie’s as talented as the film keeps telling us he is, he’d send it back for a rewrite.

“Here Today” opens in US theaters May 7.

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Fear Not, Here Today Is Not a Billy Crystal–Tiffany Haddish Romantic Comedy

Portrait of Alison Willmore

Eight years ago, when talking to the New York Times about a new book, Billy Crystal bemoaned the fact that Hollywood no longer saw him as a viable romantic lead at the age of 65. It was hard enough to get movies made at all, the funnyman told Dave Itzkoff, and “it’s not easy to go through that when you can’t get the girl anymore. You can, but usually you both die.” It was a curious point for Crystal to make, because even in his heyday as a movie star in the late ’80s and ’90s, his career wasn’t exactly defined by an array of famously swoon-y roles. There was, really, just the one, though when that one is When Harry Met Sally … , one of the greatest romantic comedies ever made, it tends to leave an outsize impression. Still, it took six years for Crystal to star in another rom-com after that Rob Reiner classic, and then, it was in a movie he directed himself: Forget Paris , in which he plays an NBA referee who falls for an airline employee played by Debra Winger. It’s possible that Crystal has always thought of himself as more of an onscreen lover than the industry did — a theory his new movie about the cross-generational bond between a lonely writer and a carefree performer, Here Today , supports.

In the film — based on a short story by Alan Zweibel, who co-wrote the screenplay with Crystal, who also directs — Crystal’s an aging comedy legend named Charlie Burnz who befriends Emma Payge, a singer played by Tiffany Haddish. They don’t have sex, and yet everyone around them keeps asking if they’re a couple, as though it were the obvious thought anyone might have when seeing the two together. The doctor (Anna Deavere Smith) who’s treating Charlie for dementia wants to know if they’re boyfriend and girlfriend (“We spooned!” they cheerfully reply). Charlie’s estranged daughter Francine (Laura Benanti) corners Emma at a bat mitzvah to ask how long Emma and Charlie have been dating. After Emma crawls into Charlie’s bed one night because she’s afraid of thunder, he ends up wondering if anything happened between then. The prospect of a May-December romance between Crystal and Haddish isn’t exactly appealing, but after a while, it starts to feel like it would make more sense than the one-directional relationship that does develop over the course of this odd little film. As it is, though, Emma has a distinct whiff of the magical that even Haddish’s ebullient ease onscreen can’t obscure.

Emma comes crashing into Charlie’s life when she meets him for a lunch that was auctioned off for charity, though it was her ex who’s the fan who made the winning bid; she’s just there out of spite in the wake of their breakup. After a mishap involving a seafood salad and a trip to the ER, the two become friends, or even, the movie would have us believe, soul mates. But it’s only Charlie’s life we see — the mental decline he’s been hiding, his strained relationships with Francine and his son Rex (Penn Badgley), his job as a writer on an SNL -like sketch show called This Just In , and, eventually, regretful flashbacks to his marriage with his late wife Carrie (Louisa Krause). It’s unclear, meanwhile, where Emma lives, or how she supports herself as part of a band that mainly seems to busk in the subway. When she receives what sounds like the career opportunity of a lifetime, she sets it aside without fuss to help Charlie out. The film doesn’t need to show Crystal and Haddish in a passionate clinch to be an indulgent fantasy — Emma’s willingness to always show up for Charlie without getting anything in return aside from hostility from his daughter is its own form of narrative wish fulfillment.

But while Here Today never works, there is a confessional quality to it that makes it intermittently interesting. It’s the movie equivalent of someone telling what they think is a funny anecdote, but that instead comes out as an inadvertent glimpse into their soul. The array of celebrities playing themselves — among them Kevin Kline, Sharon Stone, and Barry Levinson as the stars and director of a beloved comedy Charlie wrote — represent an unignorable flex of power, a reminder of Crystal’s reputation and the long arc of his career. And yet, in the scenes in Charlie’s workplace, where he’s the venerable artifact in a writers’ room full of young talent, it’s never clear what the character is holding the line against. He doesn’t like jokes that he sees as too profane, and he doesn’t like the odd emphasis that a brash up-and-comer named Roger (Matthew Broussard) gives certain words. But the sketches Charlie does usher through, some of them the work of a meek young Harvard Lampoon alum named Darrell (Andrew Durand) whom he takes under his wing, are just as terrible as the ones he dislikes. His greatest success is an on-air breakdown that becomes an accidental viral moment, and it’s impossible to tell how we’re supposed to feel about it. Crystal may fret about no longer being able to get the girl, but the fear at the core of Here Today has more to do with no longer being sure of the terrain of contemporary comedy.

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Movie Reviews

Tv/streaming, great movies, chaz's journal, contributors, black writers week, here today: alan zweibel on his collaborative friendship with billy crystal.

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Billy Crystal ’s “ Here Today ” charts the beginning of a beautiful friendship. The film is the result of another.

Crystal co-wrote the screenplay with Alan Zweibel , with whom he last collaborated on Crystal’s Tony-winning one-man show, 700 Sundays . But their friendship dates back almost 50 years to when the two twenty-somethings were aspiring stand-up comedians, carpooling from Long Island into Manhattan for gigs.

Funny and emotional, “Here Today” is based on Zweibel’s short story, The Prize , which tells the funny-‘cause-it’s-true story of Zweibel’s fraught dinner with a woman who won him in an auction and had an allergic reaction to her seafood entrée that sent her to the hospital. Crystal stars as Charlie Berns, an acclaimed comedy writer of movies and plays, and is currently the most senior member of an “SNL”-type sketch series. Tiffany Haddish costars as Emma, an aspiring singer 30 years his junior, who has no idea who he is, but followed through on the dinner to spite the actual bidder, her ex-boyfriend.

Zweibel, the Emmy, Tony, and Thurber Prize-winning writer, whose 2020 memoir, Laugh Lines ranks with Steve Martin ’s Born Standing Up as an exhilarating account of a life spent in comedy, spoke with about working with Crystal lo these many years, using comedy to grapple with life’s more serious issues, and how he finally received closure with Roger Ebert a decade after the infamously devastating review of “ North .”

“700 Sundays” was about Billy’s life and family, but “Here Today” has its genesis in something that happened to you.

I was a prize at a silent auction. I wrote about it for the now-defunct California Sunday section of the L.A. Times . I told the story anecdotally on "Late Night with David Letterman ." Billy was watching and he texted me about taking that story and making a movie about a May-December relationship. We had no idea what road we were going to travel. But that incident became the jumping off point when these two characters meet.

The film defies expectations by making this more of a friend-com and the loving relationship that develops between Charlie and Emma once she learns that is experiencing the onset of dementia.

We had seen all these movies with the older men and younger women, and we didn’t want to do that. Around that time, my father started getting dementia, and Billy had a relative in his family, same thing. So what was personal for Billy and me was addressing things that were affecting people we really cared for, and the movie became a story about a writer who needs to finish his book, which is an elegy to his deceased wife, before he runs out of words.

And yet the film is funny. It reminded me of seeing Robert Klein several years ago when he had turned 50, and he had included in his act a song about colonoscopies. Have you reached a point where you are compelled to use humor to address life’s sneak previews?

That’s a good way to put it, but the fact of the matter is, we don’t make any jokes at all about dementia. We treat it with respect and seriousness. The relationship between Charlie and Emma is one of support and love.

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One of my favorite lines in the film seems to illustrate the fine line you and Billy must have had to work balancing the drama of the situation with comedy, which you also had to do with "700 Sundays." It’s when Charlie’s doctor said it is no time to make jokes and Charlie responds, “It’s the perfect time for jokes.”

In that scene, Charlie is told he shouldn’t be alone anymore. It’s a moment filled with fear and anger. He rages about the irony of living your whole life and then you forget it. That line underscored the drama of the scene, as opposed to making jokes about, ‘Where’s my keys?’ You never want to lose the character for the sake of a joke. The tone is similar to Bunny, Bunny  (Zweibel’s memoir about his friendship with the late Gilda Radner ). It’s my favorite kind of writing.  We knew the gravity of the subject matter and we wrote within that. If we had done it any other way, it would have been irresponsible.

I enjoyed the subplot in the film involving Billy’s character’s mentoring a struggling young writer on staff. Did this come from your experience as a member of “Saturday Night Live”'s original writing staff?

Herb Sergeant was a legendary TV producer and writer. He was a mentor to me at "SNL." He was very joke oriented, as was I as a former writer for Catskills comedians. We wrote for "Weekend Update" together and developed a deep friendship. When I later worked on "It's Garry Shandling's Show," I spent a fortune FedExing him Betamax cassettes because his neighborhood didn’t get Showtime. I wanted him to be proud. When Billy got to "SNL," Herb was still there, and Billy had the same affection and respect for him. We decided to make Charlie a Herb Sergeant-type, who was older and a consigliere to the producer.

At what point in the writing did Tiffany Haddish come to the project?

Billy called me up one night and suggested Tiffany. She had hosted “SNL” the night before. I DVR all the shows, so I watched and a light went on. I said, ‘Oh, wow. Yes.’ When she attached herself to the film, we tailored Emma more to Tiffany’s voice. We followed her lead on a lot of this. There were a number of times that she ad-libbed a joke that was better than we had written for her and Billy went along with it, or she put things in a vernacular for her character that was better than what we had. She and Billy played off each other very well.

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“Here Today” is notably not premiering on a streaming platform. Thanks for doing your part to getting people back into theaters.

I give kudos to Fred Bernstein , who produced the movie. In early 2020, before COVID, we had a screening in Pasadena for some 300 people. We had the benefit of seeing an audience react to it. To actually see people experiencing this movie together, the laughter and all the other emotions that go with it, was a real rush. It could have gone to streaming, but the vaccine was around the corner, so it was Fred who said, ‘Let’s wait, maybe we’ll catch a break.’

Timing is everything, as they say, and the themes of this film would seem to resonate in this pandemic era.

What COVID has done is it has caused everyone to reprioritize what’s important and what’s not, as well as who’s important.

So, this is for and you and Roger have a history. In Laugh Lines you talk about how devastating his review of “North” was. It is probably his most quoted review (“I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it.”). Bad as it was, you were not the public face of the film as were director Rob Reiner or the cast. Didn’t you think you had dodged a bullet there?

I understand the question, but the film was based on my book. I think it was that Roger was also a writer, so I thought that a fellow wordsmith came after this writer. He was the guy, and I was embarrassed. I gave him that power.

You have a wonderful story about running into him years later and finally gaining some closure.

Roger was the most influential and important critic of his time, and he used the word ‘hate’ in the review about 1,000 times. That doesn’t mean "North" didn’t get panned elsewhere. Trust me, it got killed. But it was Roger Ebert, and it so vicious and so rough. I always wondered what it would be like if I ran into him. When I did, it was a decade after "North," so I was over it. I had gotten off the couch and moved forward. I was in Chicago on a book tour for my novel, The Other Shulman . I’m having lunch in this restaurant and I look over and, lo and behold, there he is.

He was wearing this oversized sweater that had all the autumn colors, but the worst ones: burnt orange, puke green, and baby diarrhea yellow. He got up to go to the men’s room, and I excused myself and followed him. It was like an out of body experience, like, ‘Gee, I wonder what Al’s going to do when he catches up to Roger Ebert?’ I had no idea. I went to the men’s room. We were at the sinks. He looked up and I said, ‘Roger, Alan Zweibel,’ and the blood drains from his face. I took a beat, and I said, ‘Roger, I just have to tell you that I hate hate hate that sweater you’re wearing.’ I smiled, he smiled and we both started laughing, and we shook hands. And that was it.

In Billy’s forward to your memoir, Laugh Lines , he writes about how exhilarating it was to work on this script with you. He writes, ‘Here we are, 45 years later, and once again we’re on our way home after work, and the only difference is, now you’re driving!’

This is such a wonderful story. We look at each other and almost get giddy about how fortunate this turned out. We were two kids. He picked me up at my parents’ house, we’d go into New York, do our respective sets, and on the way back we’d listen to the cassettes and give each other notes. Every so often we’ll mention that. He’s got brothers and I’ve got a brother, but he and I are brothers. The key to it is we’ve allowed each other to grow, and there is a certain amount of wonderment that we’ve grown the same. There wasn’t a divergence where one of us became a bank robber.

Like in "Angels with Dirty Faces."

Exactly right, where one of the childhood friends goes to the chair. My guess is I’d go to the chair.

"Here Today" is now playing in theaters. 

Donald Liebenson

Donald Liebenson

Donald Liebenson is a Chicago-based film critic, entertainment writer and DVD reviewer. He has been published in The Chicago Tribune , The Chicago Sun-Times , Printer's Row Journal , Los Angeles Times , Movieline and Entertainment Weekly .

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Miscellaneous Immorality: Family bitterness toward main character by his children but it is healed.

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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.

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When veteran comedy writer Charlie Burnz (Billy Crystal) meets New York singer Emma Payge (Tiffany Haddish), they form an unlikely yet hilarious and touching friendship that kicks the generation gap aside and redefines the meaning of love and trust.

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‘here today’ review: nobody asked for a billy crystal dementia comedy.

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Running time: 117 minutes. Rated PG-13 (strong language and sexual references). In theaters.

“Here Today” may be one-half a phrase (“… gone tomorrow”), but it’s about 19 different movies.

One is a backstage showbiz comedy. Billy Crystal plays Charlie Burnz, a renowned writer of TV, films and Broadway plays whose heyday was in the 1970s and ’80s. Now, he’s a respected old fogey with a gig writing for a cable sketch show called “This Just In.” It airs on the “Funny Channel” — a misnomer if there ever was one.

No wonder the overlong movie directed by Crystal doesn’t get laughs, because “Here Today” is also a dementia drama. Charlie has kept his worsening condition a secret from his colleagues and two adult children ( Laura Benanti and Penn Badgley ), even as he struggles to remember their names. 

Had enough? Too bad. The film then warps into a modern “Tell-Tale Heart,” as a traumatic memory from decades earlier haunts Charlie, and he can’t shake the guilt.

With so much already going on, somehow Crystal’s co-star is Tiffany Haddish as a loud-and-proud New York lounge singer named Emma. The actress does her broad “Girls Trip” shtick plus a wallop of sap with a PG-13 vocabulary. Even with those adjustments, her oversize style butts heads with Crystal’s 1992 set-’em-up-knock-’em-down delivery.

This “Hoarders” house of ideas is also about fatherhood, mentorship, marriage, New York and age discrimination, and features a cameo appearance by Sharon Stone.

Movies are allowed to be more than one thing — “Terminator” has robo killings and romance — but all those qualities must harmonize. “Here Today” is a mess.

Beyond being unwieldy, Crystal’s film is just plain hard to believe. The curse of making a film about comedians and comedy writers is they have to be funny enough that an audience buys that they actually make a living telling jokes. The gags on “This Just In” are all duds.

Tiffany Haddish and Billy Crystal go from Tinder dates to oddball friends in "Here Today."

Equally brow-raising is the Tinder date Charlie goes on with Emma that leads to an oddball friendship. The movie wants us to think that a romance might bloom eventually, but that’s about as likely as a palm tree popping up in Siberia.

Crystal, for what it’s worth, stays genuine through the increasingly viscous plot. He still has that warmth beneath his zingers that you don’t find in the frigid comedians of today. Nonetheless, we resent his movie’s aggressive efforts to force us into crying with strained, untruthful moments by the bucketful.

Charlie encourages the writers of “This Just In” to earn their laughs without resorting to lowbrow humor. The lesson for Crystal and co-writer Alan Zweibel is you also gotta earn tears.

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It’s complicated for Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish in the awful dementia rom-com Here Today

Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish in Here Today

Note: The writer of this review watched Here Today on a digital screener   from home. Before making the decision to see it—or any other film—in a movie theater, please consider the health risks involved. Here’s   an interview on the matter with scientific experts.

A deadly combination of enfeebled comedy and maudlin melodrama, Here Today stars Billy Crystal (who also directed, in his first stint behind the camera since HBO’s 61* , 20 years ago) as Charlie Burnz, a legendary comedy writer who’s still vital enough to be on staff at a fictionalized version of Saturday Night Live . We know that Charlie’s still got the goods not because his jokes are particularly funny but because the movie stops cold early on to have a couple of the younger writers question his continuing relevance, only to be lectured by their producer about the wealth of experience that he brings to the show. Respect your elders, kids! Especially because, like Charlie, they may secretly be suffering from dementia. While the guy can toss off zingers with aplomb, he’s increasingly having trouble remembering which health club locker is his, or how to get to the studio, or even whether the person he’s talking to is his own adult son. Nobody else is aware, however, apart from Charlie’s neurologist (Anna Deavere Smith), who suspects that he may have Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease—incurably degenerative, and usually fatal within a year.

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Julianne Moore won an Oscar just six years ago for playing a similar role , but Here Today isn’t that kind of sober drama, alternating instead between silly and sudsy. In a blatant attempt to attract younger viewers, the film pairs Crystal with Tiffany Haddish, whose character, Emma, improbably shows up for a lunch with Charlie that her ex-boyfriend had purchased in a charity auction. Despite not having a clue who this “old man” (as she constantly calls him) is, Emma speedily becomes… well, it’s bizarrely unclear just what she becomes. Crystal no doubt knows that audiences would cringe were Charlie and Emma to hook up; at the same time, though, he evidently wants to emphasize that it’s not totally implausible. So Emma moves into Charlie’s house, spoons him in bed, and more or less shrugs whenever she’s asked whether the two of them are romantically involved. Half of Here Today arguably qualifies as the first rom-com to be built around the concept of plausible deniability.

That half is just barely tolerable, thanks to Crystal’s still-sharp timing and Haddish’s occasional bursts of raucous energy. (“Your little frail body would not be able to handle all these groceries,” Emma tells Charlie at one point, gesturing to herself. If Haddish didn’t improvise that line, she at least successfully creates the impression that she did.) Everything involving Charlie’s dementia, however, pushes well past earnest into sickly sweet. The movie’s big set piece sees him berate a cast member during the show’s live broadcast, stepping before the camera to yell at the guy for constantly stressing the wrong syllable of commonplace words and famous names. This is evidently meant to be at once hilarious and troubling, but the meltdown—despite being cowritten, along with the rest of the screenplay, by Alan Zweibel, one of SNL ’s original writers—never takes off comedically and seems oddly irrelevant to Charlie’s illness. While dementia can cause personality changes, the film never gets into that, nor are there other such instances; apart from forgetting things, Charlie always seems entirely himself, and this rant could easily have taken place 25 years earlier. Is he meant to have forgotten that the show is live? If so, that doesn’t come across.

Not content with the horrors of losing one’s memory and sense of self, Crystal and Zweibel additionally saddle Charlie with lingering guilt about the death, many years earlier, of his beloved wife, Carrie, requiring him to reconcile with his daughter (Laura Benanti) while he can still remember why she resents him. This superfluous subplot demands flashbacks, but rather than digitally de-age himself, or cast a young lookalike, Crystal opts to have poor Louisa Krause, as Carrie, perform all of her scenes directly to the camera, representing Charlie’s point of view—a strategy that reduces a talented actor to painful mugging. (Similarly ludicrous are as-themselves cameos by Sharon Stone and Kevin Kline, who appear at a retrospective screening of a hit comedy that Charlie wrote: When we see a clip from this imaginary film, which would have been shot decades earlier, their characters talk in a fully darkened room while wearing Halloween masks that cover 90% of their faces.) Here Today ’s sincerity is matched only by its phoniness. The same was true of Crystal’s 1992 directorial debut, Mr. Saturday Night, so at least one can say he hasn’t lost a step.

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‘a family affair’ dethroned in netflix’s top 10 list by a new movie.

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A Family Affair

Netflix tends to rotate through its top movies pretty quickly with so many released and added, but A Family Affair did have at least a fair bit of time on top. Now, it’s been replaced by another Netflix original, Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F, bringing Eddie Murphy back to his famous role. And it could have gone worse, it seems.

A Family Affair, starring Zac Efron, Joey King and Nicole Kidman, did not review well , a 39% from critics and an even lower 30% from fans. But Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F is actually doing pretty good, with a 65% critic scores and an even higher 78% audience score. Given how poorly many big Netflix movies can review, grading on a curve, that’s actually quite good. Here’s the official synopsis of the film:

“Detective Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) is back on the beat in Beverly Hills. After his daughter's life is threatened, she (Taylour Paige) and Foley team up with a new partner (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and old pals Billy Rosewood (Judge Reinhold) and John Taggart (John Ashton) to turn up the heat and uncover a conspiracy.”

Murphy is being praised in particular for not losing a step despite all the time away from the role and the idea that he really doesn’t act all that much in major projects anymore. Now he’s starring in the most-watched movie in America (any Netflix film at #1 at any given time is usually going to be more watched than whatever’s in actual theaters).

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It has quite literally been thirty years since the last movie in the series, with Beverly Hills Cop 3 out in 1994 with the first film releasing in 1984 as a genre classic. This new version, as you may expect, does not have any of the same writers or directors. You will not know director Mark Molloy compared to Tony Scott or John Landis who did 2 and 3 respectively, as this is his first feature film directing role. Pretty good for a debut, and with his last project being a show for the ill-fated Quibi, which never even aired.

The rest of the list looks as expected, as Jessica Alba’s Trigger Warning continues to fall, and most of the other slots are taken up by the same five or so kids movies that are always there. One new addition is the infamous Warcraft movie, which some loved but many hated, and now you can judge it for yourself given that it’s found its way to Netflix.

I’ll give Beverly Hills Cop a watch when I have a second, as I really want to see how Murphy does in the role again. From all accounts, pretty well.

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Pick up my sci-fi novels the Herokiller series and The Earthborn Trilogy .

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'Twisters' first reviews: Glen Powell film an emotional thrill ride, say critics

The first set of reviews for the glen powell and daisy edgar-jones film, 'twisters,' is here. critics have largely praised the film, especially the lead characters' performances..

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  • Strong visuals and impressive scale noted
  • Character inconsistencies present in 'Twisters'
  • The movie stars Glen Powell and Daisy Edgar-Jones in the lead

The first set of reviews for Glen Powell and Daisy Edgar-Jones-starrer Twisters is out, and the critics have largely enjoyed the film. The film is a remake of the original Twister, starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in the lead (1996).

Entertainment Weekly called it a summer hit and mentioned, "A producer puts all the elements in place — the director, the script, the performers, the marketing — and then it either takes flight or fizzles out. Box office returns remain to be seen, but as a movie, I'm happy to say that Twisters is just about as good as a summer movie gets."

Collider was all praise for the film's central performances as it stated, "Twisters boasts strong visuals, memorable scenes, and impressive scale alongside stellar character work from an exceptionally talented and charismatic cast. It's an impactful and well-paced narrative, though there are some missteps and subtle character inconsistencies that dampen its highest potential. Nonetheless, at its core, Twisters is an emotional, charismatic thrill ride that showcases both the threat's scale and our bravery in the face of it, backed by an excellent set of central performances."

However, BBC didn't seem too impressed as it said, "There aren't many twists in Twisters. Twenty-eight years on from the release of Jan de Bont's Twister, Hollywood's powers-that-be have decided that this lucrative piece of intellectual property should be taken out for another spin, but they haven't done anything surprising with it."

Twisters releases on July 19. Published By: Anvita Singh Published On: Jul 11, 2024 ALSO READ | 'Hit Man' Review: Glen Powell film redefines 'till death do us part'


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10 New Movies Our Critics Are Talking About This Week

Whether you’re a casual moviegoer or an avid buff, our reviewers think these films are worth knowing about.

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By The New York Times

The Wild (and wildly uneven) West.

A man in a cowboy hat rides on a horse with a line of donkeys behind him.

‘Horizon: An American Saga — Chapter 1’

The first film in Kevin Costner’s projected four-film cycle collects various depictions of the Old West starting in the Civil War.

From our review:

“Horizon” is wildly uneven, at times exasperating and filled with distracting details that eat away at its period realism. Among other things, no one seems to know how to spit tobacco, and to judge from the women’s perfect updos and tidy eyebrows, everyone on this frontier has a stylist in tow. It’s easy to smirk at these and other miscues; Costner also has a weakness for speeches, like many filmmakers. But he has a feel for the western and the landscapes of the West.

In theaters. Read the full review.

Starring Lupita Nyong’o but also a VIP cat.

‘a quiet place: day one’.

In Michael Sarnoski’s prequel to the “A Quiet Place” franchise, Samira (Lupita Nyong’o) fights to survive an alien invasion in New York City alongside her cat, Frodo.

Indeed, the action set pieces are fine but also perfunctory, as if they were a nonnegotiable item Sarnoski had to cross off a checklist. “Day One” is on much surer ground when dealing with the quiet that bookends the storms. And it is at its very best whenever Nyong’o’s face fills the screen, like the postapocalyptic heroine of a silent movie. What she can do with relatively little is simply astonishing, and you absolutely believe in both Samira’s despair and her determination.

In theaters. Read the full review .

Great performances, meh drama.

This drama captures the conversations between a cabdriver, Clark (Sean Penn), and the passenger he calls Girlie (Dakota Johnson).

Handicapped by more than a terrible title, Christy Hall’s “Daddio,” set almost entirely inside a New York City taxicab, tries too hard and lasts too long. A synthetic encounter between a gabby cabby and his self-possessed female passenger, the movie is a claustrophobic two-hander oxygenated in part by Phedon Papamichael’s sleekly gorgeous cinematography. The star power of its leads, Sean Penn and Dakota Johnson, doesn’t hurt either.

Two’s company, three’s a crowded rom-com.

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Marketing maven Kelly Jones wreaks havoc on launch director Cole Davis's already difficult task. When the White House deems the mission too important to fail, the countdown truly begins. Marketing maven Kelly Jones wreaks havoc on launch director Cole Davis's already difficult task. When the White House deems the mission too important to fail, the countdown truly begins. Marketing maven Kelly Jones wreaks havoc on launch director Cole Davis's already difficult task. When the White House deems the mission too important to fail, the countdown truly begins.

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Sony Pictures has released the trailer for Robert Zemeckis ‘ “Here,” which is the sixth collaboration between the “Forrest Gump” director and his leading man Tom Hanks .

Based on the graphic novel by Richard McGuire, “Here” tells the century-long story of a single house and all the different people who lived there. The camera sits at a fixed angle for the entire 104-minute duration without moving. In another “Forrest Gump” reunion, the film’s main couple is played by Hanks and Robin Wright . The movie’s script is written by Zemeckis and “Forrest Gump” scribe Eric Roth.

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“It only works because the performances are so good,” Zemeckis said. “Both Tom and Robin understood instantly that, ‘Okay, we have to go back and channel what we were like 50 years ago or 40 years ago, and we have to bring that energy, that kind of posture, and even raise our voices higher. That kind of thing.”

Andrew Golov, Jeremey Johns and Thom Zadra serve as executive producers. “Here” is produced by Miramax.

“Here” hits theaters Nov. 15. Watch the trailer below.

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Eddie Murphy talks new 'Beverly Hills Cop' movie, Axel Foley's 'Everyman' charm

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If you’re amazed that we’re talking about “Beverly Hills Cop” some 40 years after that movie essentially birthed the buddy-cop comedy genre (here's looking at you, "Lethal Weapon" and "Bad Boys" ), Eddie Mur p hy shares your sense of wonder.

“The pope was 47 when the first movie came out, I’m talking about the sitting one (Pope Francis),” Murphy reflects in a conversation with USA TODAY. “So he might have seen it. The pope has probably seen ‘Beverly Hills Cop.’ Wow.”

Murphy’s somewhat tongue-in-smirking-cheek speculation might extend to the movie’s two sequels, in 1987 and 1994. And perhaps – if the pontiff indeed is an Axel Foley fan – the fourth film of the enduring franchise, “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F” ( streaming Wednesday on Netflix ).

“Axel and all the characters, they’re very much part of the lexicon,” says Murphy, 63. “I mean, somewhere in the world, one of those movies is on TV right now."

For this installment, “it really was mainly about getting a good script and getting to the set, and that was it. As soon as they said ‘Action,’ I was Axel again.”

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Judge Reinhold , who returns once again as Foley sidekick Billy Rosewood, joining fellow returnee John Ashton as cop John Taggart, says when the trio hopped in a squad car again, fireworks ignited.

“I hadn’t seen Eddie in maybe 10 years, but when the three of us were together, it was magic, it was like we’d never stopped,” Reinhold says. "The night of that shoot was special. The three of us showed up dressed the same as we used to, and the crew, it was spooky for them, it was like we’d walked out of their past. Things got quiet.”

Making a fourth 'Beverly Hills Cop' movie was never guaranteed

It wasn’t a given that Foley & Co. would resume their comedic crime-busting routine. After “Beverly Hills Cop III” failed to score big at the box office, the conclusion seemed to be that the Detroit-to-LA shenanigans were a wrap.

But in 2019, Netflix bought the rights to a fourth movie with an option for an additional sequel. And the race was on.

"Axel F" includes veterans as well as new faces: Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Bobby, Kevin Bacon as Captain Grant and Taylour Paige as Foley's adult daughter, Jane. Also onboard after skipping out in 1994 was Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced the first two ‘80s hits, along with first-time movie director, Mark Molloy, a veteran of TV commercials for Apple products .

"I just wanted to create the right environment for Eddie to thrive, which included a great script and a cast that allows him to improvise as needed," says Molloy, citing a manic scene in a helicopter with Gordon-Levitt. "Everything was on the page, but there were some great moments and accents that Eddie improvises that takes scenes from an eight to a 10."

Bruckheimer was eager to recapture the series' winning form. “For me, coming back was an easy decision,” he says. “It’s always a dream to work with Eddie Murphy, you just wanted to talk about the old days while making the new one. But you also can see how he’s evolved as an actor and comedian, just like old wine."

Bruckheimer, 80, pauses, then laughs.“He looks so young, I wish I had the same genes,” he says. “Whatever he’s doing, it’s working, maybe he’ll give us a few pointers.”

How does Eddie Murphy, 63, stay so youthful? His secret is simple

Murphy’s fountain of youth is on the minds of many of his co-workers.

“Eddie has always taken care of himself, even in the '80s,” says Reinhold. “He has a lot of discipline. He takes care of his gift. He’s a student of the (comedy) form, going back to (Charlie) Chaplin and (Buster) Keaton.”

Paige, who plays Murphy’s screen daughter, ascribes the comedian's youthful look and serenity to his family (Murphy is a father of 10).

“His family and his home life keeps it all balanced for him,” says Paige. “If I learned anything from Eddie during the shoot, it was to preserve my energy on set. He was always asking, ‘Are we going to go?’ And if we were, he was on it.”

The actress got a kick out of ribbing her famous co-star about his cloistered life.

“We were driving around (shooting a car scene) and he would just start reading off the names of fast-food places we were passing, and at one point he said, ‘I bet you prefer Chipotle, you seem like an organic type,’ ” she says. “I said, ‘I bet you’ve never even been inside a Chipotle!’ And, yes, I am here to verify the man has never had Chipotle.”

So, let’s see, no alcohol, no fast food ... what else? Murphy waves off talk about his preternaturally youthful appearance.

“Well, I don’t know the answer, maybe just genetics,” he says. “I don’t have a regime, I wish I could say (he affects a deep voice), ‘I eat this and I drink that.’ But I’ll tell you what, I don’t drink. I can tell you how many drinks I’ve had in my life on two hands and have fingers left over. Pretty much zero alcohol and zero tobacco and the least amount of stress.”

He leans back in his chair and smiles. “Otherwise, I do the same (stuff) everyone else does.” And then there it is, that very Foley laugh, a deep heh-heh-heh .

Eddie Murphy has been a star since he was a teen but hasn't succumbed to fame's vices

That Murphy has managed to keep the vices of success at bay is fairly unique in Hollywood history. After all, Murphy has been famous since he was a 19-year-old talent who saved a then-sinking “Saturday Night Live.”

His rocket just soared. Stand-up comedy tours turned into hit albums and specials, and while not everything connected with movie audiences, there have been enough gems (from “Shrek” to “My Name Is Dolemite”) to cement his name in the comedy firmament.

But even Murphy didn’t seem to recognize how iconic his wise-cracking Detroit cop had become. He was initially reluctant to put the character’s now-classic Detroit Lions jacket on again.

“I was like, so he has the same jacket on from 30 years ago? I didn’t want to do it,” he says. “But then they said, ‘Axel’s clothes are iconic, like Indiana Jones.’ ”

Murphy flashes that grin.

“So I said, ‘OK, so my jacket is like Indiana Jones’ hat and his whip? Fine, I’ll put it on,’ ” he says. “But actually, it works. Because Axel’s appeal is that he’s not flashily dressed, he doesn’t care about his clothes or anything, he’s just doing police work. He’s the Everyman, I think that’s why the character has been around for so long. You can relate to him.”

As for what's next, Murphy talks about perhaps a one-man show of sorts on Broadway, but he's also game for another Foley caper, should Netflix hit the green light. Of all the memorable characters he's created over the decades, something about this crime-busting crew has bored into his soul.

"It's a trip, most movies, you don’t see them much after they’re first on," he says. "But (with 'Cop'), now you're locked in with these actors forever."

And Murphy seems more than OK with that.


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    The easy chemistry between the characters reflects the real-life friendship of the two stars and it is clear to see that like Emma and Charlie, Haddish and Crystal get a kick out of each other. Indeed, they get so much of a kick out of each other that Crystal the director was too reluctant to cut their scenes, which impairs the pacing.

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    When veteran comedy writer Charlie Burnz (Billy Crystal) meets New York singer Emma Payge (Tiffany Haddish), they form an unlikely yet hilarious and touching friendship that kicks the generation gap aside and redefines the meaning of love and trust.

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