Dying Is Easy, Comedy Is Hard
When you think about it, dramedy may be the most realistic of movie genres. Everyone faces ups and downs. All of us experience tears and laughter. Standing Up, Falling Down riffs on this theme as Billy Crystal and Ben Schwartz play off each other in a variety of situations.
These two actors go deep into their roles as Marty and Scott, respectively. They are an unlikely pair. In addition to their age difference, Marty is a boozy skin doctor, whose son wonít even talk to him. Scott is a down-on-his-luck stand-up comic who has moved back into his parentsí home after an unsuccessful run in L.A. Despite all their problems and differences, each man helps the other by being their friend.
Whenever I see the great Billy Crystalís name associated with a movie, I expect lots of laughs from the film. Not belly whoppers, of course, but laughs gently from the heart is what I hope for. Like in When Harry Met Sally or Forget Paris or Analyze That. Although Crystal gets a couple of lines here that come close to evoking that kind of feeling for me, in general his performance falls more in the drama category. I havenít seen Ben Schwartz (TV's Parks and Recreation) before, so I had no expectations regarding his performance. But he made me understand why Scottís stand-up comedy wasnít successful.
A friendship grows between two guys.
A failed comic, the other wise
to all of lifeís regrets and more.
Too bad their banter starts to bore.
Dermatologist, Crystalís role.
Estranged from family, poor soul.
Alcoholic and lonely too.
But comic likes him and his brew.
Schwartz proves that comedy is hard
His character seems quite a card.
Will doc get him to try again?
If so, where will that be and when?
A worthy theme but oh-so slow.
Most dialogue is filled with woe.
Situations contrived donít work.
New-character ending? A quirk.
Sadly "Standing Up, Falling Down"
may make you cry or even frown.
This dramedy boasts an excellent supporting cast including Debra Monk, Kevin Dunn, Mamie Gummer, and Nate Corddry. Monk plays Scottís devoted mother; Dunn portrays his disillusioned father; and Gummer is his dear sarcastic sister. Corddry plays Martyís angry estranged son.
Directed by Matt Ratner and written by Peter Hoare, Standing Up, Falling Down falters by presenting too many awkward scenes that donít seem real. As examples: (a) Marty and Scott interrupt a funeral with their loud talking; (b) they meet each other while relieving themselves in a public restroom. Both situations are supposed to be funny but come across as more pathetic than humorous.
Still, Crystalís fine lived-in performance makes this film a must-see for his fans. Bring tissues.
(Released by Shout! Studios. Not rated by MPAA.)