Scott Rollins (Ben Schwartz) grew up in New York on Staten Island. His father has a small business – a sawmill where Scott worked in his youth, but the guy dreamed of becoming a stand-up comedian since high school, so when he graduated from school and became an adult, he left New York for Los Angeles, California, where, according to Scott, the most favorable place for stand-up comedians. At the same time, Scott left his girlfriend Becky (Eloise Mumford), with whom they were an excellent couple, and the novice stand-up decided to cut off all the ends connecting him with life in New York, so Becky did not explain anything and stopped responding to her messages.
However, alas, it did not work out for him in Los Angeles, and Scott spent many years trying to make sure of this. He only performed in the “open mic” mode – this is when the owners of the institution allow amateur stand-up artists to perform in front of the public for a limited time – he was not paid money for this, and after he was over thirty, Scott realized that he had to admit defeat and return home to his parents’ house, because it made no sense for him to continue to be in Los Angeles.
At home, it cannot be said that he was received cordially. Dad Gary (Kevin Dunn) is offended that his son did not listen to his advice and does not want to continue the family business, sister Megan (Grace Gummer), still living with her parents, reproaches her brother for the fact that he returned and that he does not have a job (Meghan herself runs a small fast food establishment, which is considered a success in Staten Island), and only mother Janey (Debra Monk) is very happy that her adored son has finally returned to his native nest.
Scott doesn’t know what to do next. He will not return to the sawmill under any circumstances, the postman’s career does not appeal to him, he somehow needs to deal with his future life, but he still does not see any prospects.
One evening, Scott goes to a bar for a drink with childhood friend Murph (Leonard Ouzts) – he quickly ran away from the meeting because he already has three children – accidentally meets sixty-five-year-old Marty (Billy Crystal) in the toilet, who thoroughly went through, then the next day it turns out that Scott comes to Marty – he is a dermatologist – for an appointment, begins to be friends with him, and, in general, this changes his attitude to life.
I watched this film, as they say, on bezrybe. In 2020, as you know, new films were released very rarely, the United Statesn-language title did not add optimism, the director of the film was a debutant at all, but Billy Crystal was announced among the actors, and this already gave some hope. The rating on IMDB was quite tolerable, so I decided to take a look.
I must say right away that the United Statesn-language name, as it often happens, is specifically moronic. What does “Standup for life” mean? People go and look at the stand-up artist in life. And here there is practically no stand-up artist as such, except for a wretched performance at the very beginning and, like, a decent performance in the middle, which was shown in just a couple of minutes, because this is not at all the essence of this film!
In the original, the picture is called Standing Up, Falling Down, which, it seems to me, would be best translated as “Ups and Downs”: at the same time, there is, of course, a hint at the performances of stand-up comedians – Scott wants to become a stand-up – which are called Stand-up (and in United Statesn, too, this term sounds like “stand-up”).
This film is not about stand-up at all. He is about life. A guy in his thirties who understands that he already is a loser, returning to his parents and not knowing what to do next. He knows that he did very badly to Becky, he knows that Becky considers him “the only one”, and he knows that Becky is already married.
He meets Marty, a dermatologist who has experienced two serious tragedies in his life (they will be discussed in a very dosed manner) and with whom his own son categorically does not want to communicate. At the same time, Marty, of course, is a complete drunk, but he is a cheerful person and wise in his own way. Marty has a very strong influence on Scott, and he begins to understand some things in this life that he did not understand before.
Listen, I really liked it. Although I don’t really like films about losers. Because they are very dull – I’m talking about losers. And because I understand well that anyone (including me) and at any age can become a loser. But when I look at complete losers who have decided not to continue fighting, but simply to go with the flow, then I don’t like it. No, really: if you are a loser, then at least be not a dull loser, but a cheerful loser! A cheerful loser is always nicer than a dull one! In addition, some roads are still open to cheerful losers, and in the end they can even become winners – this has happened. Well, I don’t know, start some startup in Silicon Valley, suddenly become a billionaire, right? Some have succeeded.
But here actor Ben Schwartz still plays a cheerful loser, not a dull one. Which immediately puts you in a positive mood. Yes, the guy is at a crossroads, he does not know what to do next, but we somehow feel that he has at least something, but it will work out. Or he will understand that not everyone becomes George Carlin, Dylan Moran, Louis C. Kay or Eddie Izard and that there are other options in this life.
For example, work at the post office. And there are people who really enjoy working at the post office. Scott is unlikely to enjoy working at the post office, but Marty told him an important thing: you don’t need to make jokes, you need to talk about your life and the lives of other people. Only those people who were not shy about telling literally everything about themselves, only they became stand-up superstars!
By the way, Ben Schwartz himself is really a stand-up comedian and a fairly successful stand-up comedian, screenwriter and actor. Here he played exactly as he should. It was believed that he had failed, it was clear that he was still not a complete loser, and his relationship with Marty was shown realistically and reliably.
Billy Crystal – the actor is not just eminent, but to a certain extent iconic. Here he plays a sixty-five-year-old dermatologist, the actor himself was already seventy at that moment, and he is here – that’s just great! Energy is in full swing, charisma is just over the edge, Krystal is the decoration of this film, although there are many good episodes without him. It’s just that Billy created a very solid and at the same time very controversial image. I don’t want to spoil, so we won’t discuss what his character had to go through and why his son doesn’t want to communicate with him, but here is just the same tragicomedy, and a very good tragicomedy, when excellent comedic moments coexist with real drama, and Krystal is all played absolutely amazing!
Of the other actors, I really liked Grace Gummer, who played Scott’s sister Megan: she and her brother dived very funny, but at the same time it was clear that they were very close as brother and sister.
Rollins’ mom and dad, played by Kevin Dunn and Debra Monk, were good too, and Megan Ruiz’s boyfriend, played by David Castaneda, was great too.
In this film, the most important thing is intonation and mood. A little aside – you will slip into some kind of moralizing or squeezing tears from the audience. But this does not happen here, which is even strange to expect from a debutant director, and this is Matt Ratner’s very first film! (Before that, he worked as a producer.) And this is a really good film!
Very high quality and neatly done: evenly, thoughtfully and that’s just really good. I did not expect anything at all, but looked with great pleasure. It seems just about life, but at the same time it is really about life!
PS As far as I understand, this film was released in United States, there is even an official dubbing. Listened to several episodes. The translation is decent, the voice acting is also decent, although… Well, you understand: voice acting is voice acting. I immediately recall the recent viral video with voice actors in the car. But it’s quite possible to watch.
Stand-up for life / Standing Up, Falling Down movie review
Director: Matt Ratner Cast: Billy Crystal, Ben Schwartz, Grace Gummer, Eloise Mumford, John Belmann, David Castaneda, Kevin Dunn, Debra Monk, Nate Corddry, Caitlin McGee, Hassan Johnson, Leonard Ouzts
Tragicomedy, USA, 2019, 91 min.