‘Right here Right now’ overview: Billy Crystal … however not a lot else

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Billy Crystal is at all times a welcome presence on display. In his final movie, 2019’s “Standing Up, Falling Down,” he performed a unusual dermatologist serving to a comic get out of a rut. In “Right here Right now,” which Crystal wrote and directed (his first characteristic in 20 years), the tables are turned; he stars as a comedy author who learns to like life once more due to an unlikely friendship. A takeoff on the Alan Zweibel brief story “The Prize,” Crystal writes himself a honey of a task that he performs along with his signature attraction and wit. However he appears to have forgotten to put in writing any of the opposite roles with the identical depth, which is a darn disgrace.

Forgetting is the central conceit of “Right here Right now.” Charlie (Crystal) is a legendary comedy author grappling along with his dementia prognosis. Although his short-term reminiscence is slipping, Charlie’s previous tends to return speeding again in overwhelming flashbacks, and he initially tries to cover his battle from his household and associates at a “Saturday Evening Reside”-like late-night sketch present. Surprising salvation arrives within the type of a wacky subway singer, Emma (Tiffany Haddish), who waltzes into his life over lunch.

This meet-cute, the results of a charity public sale, and a subsequent seafood-triggered allergic response, makes up the totality of the brief story. From that unusual encounter, Crystal and former “SNL” author Zweibel (the pair additionally collaborated on the Broadway present “700 Sundays”) extrapolate the dementia, the odd-couple friendship that blossoms between Emma and Charlie and the comedy present, taking Zweibel’s nugget of story and working with it.

The comedy present, that includes some deliberately ghastly sketches, is the cleverest subplot, exploring the comedy era hole. Nevertheless it’s not well-integrated into the primary story of Emma and Charlie’s friendship, and the movie feels disjointed. Plus, Emma and Charlie’s friendship is so outlandishly fantastical, one could pause to surprise if Emma is an actual particular person, or some form of apparition who solely seems to Charlie.

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

Tiffany Haddish and Billy Crystal within the film “Right here Right now.”

(Cara Howe/CTMG Inc. )

Emma is a dreaded mixture of stereotypical character tropes. She’s a Manic Pixie Dream Lady by means of the Magical Negro, her character serving solely to cheer up Charlie and spur him to work on his memoir. All we learn about Emma’s life is that she sings in a band known as Slippery When Moist, and she or he has an ex-boyfriend whom she’s dead-set on making jealous by means of her friendship with Charlie. Her persona is “outgoing” and “humorous hats,” however we haven’t a clue as to her background, the place she’s from, her hopes, her ache, what makes her so cheerful within the first place or why she even needs to be mates with Charlie. The identical goes for each different character in Charlie’s orbit, and that’s the movie’s deadly flaw.

As a performer, Haddish usually brings a jolt of chaotic power to liven the proceedings. However right here, probably as a result of the character is so underwritten, she feels tight, the enjoyable pressured. Emma’s perform is merely to help Charlie and loosen up stuffy white folks, and the dearth of something genuine for Haddish to riff on is palpable.

It’s exhausting to select aside a movie that’s as well-intentioned as “Right here Right now,” which earnestly needs to rejoice life, and each lovely, tragic, poignant and shocking second. However for a movie that seeks to be so humanist, there’s just one really human character in it. As likable as he’s, that oversight is unattainable to disregard.

Katie Walsh is a Tribune Information Service movie critic.

‘Right here Right now’

Rated: PG-13, for robust language, and sexual references

Working time: 1 hour 56 minutes

Taking part in: Begins Friday normally launch the place theaters are open

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