In my review of Downhill and even in Olympic Dreams, I wrote about this new direction (really, it’s been going on for years) of the American comedy. In the 1980s and 90s, comedies were a continuous stream of gags and jokes, quippy one-liners, and over-the-top awkward situations. Today, comedies are moving in the direction of the much more grounded light dramas with a few comedic moments to take the edge off of its serious subject matter. It appears audiences prefer moments of heart over the belly-laugh. Standing Up, Falling Down is certainly another example of this kind of comedy.
The film’s theme is second chances, and both Scott and Marty have to uncover their personal shortcomings before they can be handed the privilege of being given a second chance. This is what I appreciate about this new form of comedy. There is not only insight to be gained, but also the set-up of the film and its characters are easily relatable as Scott is in his thirties, where starting over is much easier for him than Marty, who is in his late 60s. For both of their stories are about being broken as humans with a dab of redemption. It’s something we all need as the end of the road is never really the end of the road.
“…comedies are moving in the direction of the much more grounded light dramas with a few comedic moments to take the edge off of its serious subject matter.”
We’ve always known that Billy Crystal is an amazing actor and comedian, and it’s no surprise he’s able to pull off an exceptional performance. He keeps his comedy within the confines of his character, no mugging here. Ben Schwartz leans more to the dramatics than many of his past roles and proves he’s got the chops to take risks as an actor and, along with Sonic The Hedgehog, is probably ready to carry the lead in his next project.
The supporting cast is just as good. I’m sure the opening moments of sibling bickering looked challenging in the script, but against Grace Gummer, their love/shame banter comes off as authentic—even if the genetics of this family don’t quite make sense.
In Standing Up, Falling Down, this new style of comedy is light on laughs but big on heart, weaving together a story of hope, redemption, and second chances with a solid cast led by Ben Schwartz and Billy Crystal.
"…their stories are about being broken as humans with a dab of redemption."