At the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, a legend got his due. Yes, Billy Crystal, at long last, has a role worthy of his talents. He’s certainly been terrific in the past, but it’s been more than a hot minute since we’ve seen that on the big screen. That changes here. Standing Up, Falling Down blesses Crystal with a compelling and three dimensional character play, one that’s equal parts empathetic and hilarious. One of Tribeca’s most enjoyable works this year, Crystal is brilliant worthy of some awards consideration for this role. Yes, he’s just that good here. This is one to definitely look out for, beyond the festival circuit.
The movie is a comedy as well as a bit of a coming of age tale. Scott (Ben Schwartz) is a struggling stand-up comic who has been forced by failure to move back home to the eastern part of Long Island from Los Angeles, putting his comedy dream on hold. Embarrassed, he’s welcomed home by his parents (Kevin Dunn and Debra Monk), who never really believed in this flight of fancy, as well as his younger sister (Grace Gummer). By chance, Scott meets the charming dermatologist Marty (Crystal) at a bar one night. An alcoholic with a sad past but a jokey present, they find themselves past friends and kindred spirits. Quickly, a bond begins that will impact them both. Matt Ratner directs a script by Peter Hoare, while the supporting cast includes Nate Corddry, Caitlin McGee, Eloise Mumford, and more.
Billy Crystal has never been better than he is in this film. Not only does he fire on all cylinders with his trademark humor, there’s a tragic poignancy to his character that the man raises his game with. How much of it is shaped by Crystal himself and how much comes from the duo of Hoare and Ratner is irrelevant, since the character is so fantastic. Though not the central character, he’s truly the one you care about. If this flick winds up on voters’ radars at some point, hopefully what the longtime Oscar host has done here will be deemed as worthy of a citation. It’s not that Schwartz is bad, he’s just very much in the shadow of Crystal over the course of Standing Up, Falling Down’s running time.
Standing Up, Falling Down is largely a simple pleasure, and that’s by design. We watch Crystal and Schwartz mostly shoot the breeze, making each other laugh, interspersed with the former providing some offbeat wisdom to the latter. In those moments, the movie hits some nice emotional beats, though they are rather unoriginal notions. The comedic aspect is more entertaining, almost in a mumblecore way. Not much happens, but we have fun seeing it. Mostly, it’s due to the easy likability of Crystal, who’s impossible not to be charmed by here. He makes the film what it is. Especially in a festival setting, his name helps get this one out there, so it’s an added bonus that he’s the MVP of the picture too.
When it secures distribution and a release date, Standing Up, Falling Down will be well worth checking out. Nothing is known yet about that, but with the Tribeca Film Festival in the books, look for news about that in future. Whenever that may be, know that you’re in for an amusing comedy with some of Crystals best and most profound work to date. Depending on when this ends up being put out, there could even be a robust Oscar campaign launched for the man. Regardless of its future Academy Award hopes, it’s a must see when the time comes. Stay tuned there…
Be sure to look out for Standing Up, Falling Down in the future!