Review: Ben Schwartz and Billy Crystal shine in old-school comedy ‘Standing Up, Falling Down’


A throwback buddy movie that would have been no stranger to 1980s cinemas, Matt Ratner’s “Standing Up, Falling Down” shows how a well-worn premise need not impact enjoyment when there’s a terrific cast and crisp writing at your disposal.

Retreating to Long Island after his L.A. stand-up comedy career fails to thrive, 34-year-old Scott (affable Ben Schwartz, voice of “Sonic the Hedgehog”), is well aware that being back home with his parents (Debra Monk and Kevin Dunn) and his badgering sister (Grace Gummer) won’t help boost his trampled self-confidence.

But he forms an unlikely, healing bond with Marty (Billy Crystal), a twice-widowed dermatologist with two estranged kids whose penchant for getting drunk and/or high proves to be an ineffective salve for masking the pain barely concealed beneath the brim of his trusty porkpie hat.


Back in the day, this might have been Tom Hanks and Jackie Gleason in “Nothing in Common” or Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey in “Beaches” (both Garry Marshall vehicles), but while the template may be familiar, the nicely balanced blend of comedy and pathos still hits the mark.

Accentuating the easy chemistry between Crystal and Schwartz is a snappy script by Peter Hoare that neatly sums up Facebook as “Somebody I haven’t heard from since the 10th grade is telling me to dance like nobody’s watching.”

As Scott learns and Ratner’s first feature capably demonstrates, with the right support system, you can go home again.

‘Standing Up, Falling Down’

Not rated

Running Time: 1 hour, 31 minutes

Playing: Starts Feb. 21, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica