Billy Crystal’s new film is a warm, wonderful comedy drama that gives the legendary comedian room to turn in a great performance as an aging physician in danger of losing control of his life.
He’s an alcoholic dermatologist, living on Long Island, who needs help. “Standing Up, Falling Down” resonates with a knowledgeable feel for small-town life on the island, with much of it shot in Crystal’s real-life hometown of Long Beach.
Crystal’s character, Marty, is wasting his life away on booze and karaoke until he meets a young stand-up comedian, played by Ben Schwartz (“Parks and Recreation”) who has returned home after a not-very-successful career in Los Angeles to take a long hard look at his life. Together they create a film about how we can make change in our lives when we stop talking to ourselves about our problems and open up to another person.
Crystal, who has mastered stand-up comedy, Saturday Night Live satire and Broadway, in his hit, “700 Sundays,” has a well-honed talent for generating empathy and honesty in much of his more serious work.
In this film, he’s able to create a character that convincingly connects on a number of levels with his co-star. There’s a real sense of chemistry in the film that Crystal and Schwartz create together on screen in their humor and their search for self.
The feature is a nice alternative to some of the heavier fare of the festival. It’s the AJFF choice for the Young Professionals Night, which is presented with the American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS Atlanta program. There’s a party for attendees prior to the screening Feb. 15 at The Woodruff Arts Center. The festival is premiering the film in Atlanta just before its national release