Here Today is one such movie. Most of the jokes don’t land often enough for it to be a great comedy. Some of that humor is too off-color, while the language itself is too colorful, to draw families. Ironically, if there’s a message, it’s for families to come together. The audience for a story like this, told like this, is small and specific.
Billy Crystal wrote, directed, and stars as Charlie Burnz, a comedy writer, who has a serious story to tell before he loses his words. The accident that killed his wife created a rift between himself and his children, and with the onset of dementia, Charlie has no one with whom to share his most precious memories. All he wants is to preserve the memory of his wife. The words are still there, for now, but he struggles to put them down on paper.
After participating in a celebrity auction where the prize was lunch with him, Charlie meets Emma Payge (Tiffany Haddish). She has no clue who Charlie is and is only there to get revenge on her ex-boyfriend, who actually won the meet-and-greet with a bid of $22. While Charlie is still accepting this new degree of irrelevance, Emma is having an allergic reaction to her seafood salad.
Being the gentleman he is, Charlie waits for Emma at the hospital, pays her bill, and picks up her prescriptions. She’s grateful and promises to pay him back. Days later she shows up at his brownstone with a paper sack full of cash, and soon a special bond forms between the loud, young woman and the wry, old man. She notices Charlie’s struggles, which he’s managed to hide from everyone but his doctor, and in her Charlie finds someone to share his life.
Less a rom-com and more a friend-com, even Charlie and Emma struggle to define their relationship. But after Charlie has a meltdown on live TV, it’s painfully clear that he can no longer live alone. Crystal masterfully navigates the seriousness of dementia with the comedy of life. Charlie explains that he wants to laugh and not be scared. When his doctor says it’s no time for jokes, he explodes with, “This is the perfect time for jokes!”
Charlie finds it unfair that he’s lived an entire life, only to forget it all in the end, tired and alone. In Psalm 90, Moses wrote, “For all our days have dwindled away in your fury; we have finished our years like a sigh.” Some lives end suddenly. Some are long, and we suffer in the shadow in the fall of creation. “So teach us to number our days,” Moses prayed, “That we may present to you a heart of wisdom.”
The movie resonated with me, but I wish it was more accessible. For many, the message of Here Today will be gone tomorrow. (Sony Pictures, Hulu)