Review: ‘Standing Up, Falling Down’ a Bona Fide Winner

It seems strange that Ben Schwartz (of Jean-Ralphio Saperstein from Parks & Recreation fame) had two films that opened on back-to-back weekends and they couldn’t be more different. The first, the much maligned Sonic the Hedgehog opened HUGE and took home the box office crown the past two weekends. The other, Standing Up, Falling Down, opened to much less fanfare but is the far more interesting of the two.

The film gives us the story of Scott Rollins (Schwartz), a down on his luck comedian living in LA who gives up on his dream of making it big the comedy world and comes home to Long Island to reset his life. Of course, like many who set off in the way of Horatio Alger and head west, Scott hangs his head in shame as the prodigal son returns home broken. He’s greeted half-heartedly by his father (Kevin Dunn) and enthusiastically by his mother (Debra Monk) who is happy to have him home. Scott settles into his childhood room that appears no different than when he lived there as a child. Of course, the girl he left behind brokenhearted, Becky (Eloise Mumford), has since married and looms large in the whole scenario. Adrift and unsure of what to do with himself, he meets up with his friend Murph (Leonard Ouzts) at a bar and sees what his life would have been like if he played it like most do – wife, kids, house and all that comes with it. While in the bathroom, he runs into Marty (Billy Crystal), an alcoholic dermatologist who pisses in the sink then tells Scott he’s got a skin issue and he should come by his office to have it checked out.

After meeting up again at a wake, the two form a quick bond and open up to one another about the various things they’ve screwed up in their lives. Marty acts as a guide of sorts, helping Scott navigate the shit situation he’s steered himself into. Likewise, connecting with Scott helps Marty work through his own shit although it happens a little more circuitously.

What unfolds is not all that surprising, but it is a ride worth taking. I found myself incredibly invested in both characters. I know that if I had made a few different decisions in my life, I could easily have been Scott, aimlessly wandering hoping to latch onto that one thing that will make me whole. I’m sure we’ve all had those thoughts.

What really drives this film is the performances of both Schwartz and Crystal. Both have larger than life personalities that can be overwhelming (in a good way, of course). While I lament that there was no running over by a Lexus, Schwartz especially surprised me with his standout performance – subdued but charming and funny with spot on timing and delivery. I hope to see much more of this type of role for Schwartz. Crystal is a legend and he didn’t disappoint. Always able to balance humor and drama, he gives a performance that stands up with his best. Both actors were so relatable and they played perfectly off of one another that kudos are necessary to whomever cast them together.

This is a very satisfying film experience and well crafted by director Matt Ratner with a solid script written by Peter Hoare. Grace Gummer, Caitlin McGee, Nate Corddry and David Castañeda round out the great cast.

I would highly suggest catching this one if you can. It is still in theaters and available through various streaming sources.

Review: ‘LEARNING TO DRIVE’ rides right into your heart.

Learning to Drive-poster2Two very different people cross paths in a cab, changing both their lives forever. This is the basic outline for the charming new film LEARNING TO DRIVE. But, this movie is so much more than basic. Sir Ben Kingsley and Patricia Clarkson come together to explore love and life as they enter new stages and become each other’s teacher.

LTD_09-07-13_139_R_CROP Patricia Clarkson stars as Wendy in Broad Green Pictures upcoming release, LEARNING TO DRIVE. Credit: Linda Kallerus/Broad Green Pictures

Patricia Clarkson stars as Wendy in Broad Green Pictures upcoming release, LEARNING TO DRIVE.
Credit: Linda Kallerus/Broad Green Pictures

Clarkson plays successful writer, Wendy, whose marriage suddenly falls apart. In order to take control of her new found single life, she navigates selling her home, dating, and relinquishing her comfort behind the wheel. Kingsley becomes Wendy’s instructor after witnessing the intimate crumbling of her marriage in the back of his cab. As he returns some forgotten property to her home, the two become pupil and instructor during the day and dear friends as the film progresses. Kingsley’s Darwan battles some personal struggles of his own as a long time single man finally accepting an arranged marriage. He must learn to communicate with his new bride while letting go of control himself.

LTD_09-05-13_793_R_CROP (l to r) Sarita Choudhury stars as Jasleen and Ben Kingsley as Darwan in Broad Green Pictures upcoming release, LEARNING TO DRIVE. Credit: Linda Kallerus/Broad Green Pictures

(l to r) Sarita Choudhury stars as Jasleen and Ben Kingsley as Darwan in Broad Green Pictures upcoming release, LEARNING TO DRIVE.
Credit: Linda Kallerus/Broad Green Pictures

Ben Kingsley is brilliant as ever. Never missing a beat in a character that is so beautifully genuine. He is a treasure to watch. Patricia Clarkson is engrossing as always.Lovely and vulnerable, her journey through the film is relatable on all levels. Her accessibility as an actress is palpable. With solid performances from Jake Webber as Wendy’s ex and Grace Gummer as their daughter, this changing family dynamic is one we’ve all come across. Much applause to Sarita Choudhury as Darwan’s new wife Jasleen. This reminds me of how I felt when I moved to India in 2008. A little lost, confused, relying heavily on television to entertain me, and afraid to venture too far outside at first. She is a gem n everything she appears in. LEARNING TO DRIVE will certainly have an audience in the over 30 category. Director Isabel Coixet and screenwriter Sarah Kernochan make a truly cohesive team. I hope we see more from them as a pair in the future.

LEARNING TO DRIVE comes to theaters today

Running Time: 90 minutes      Rating: R

Liz’s Review: The Homesman- A long winding journey.


As a child I sat in a hard plastic chair in my town library and played The Oregon Trail until eventually my player died of dysentery. I thought it was cool to put my name on a list, hear it called out, and get to play for a whole 30 minutes all my myself. Little did I know/care that I was actually learning in the process. All of those memories came flooding back when I saw the new Roadside Attractions release, The Homesman. Read More →

New Trailer: Tommy Lee Jones Directs & Stars With Hilary Swank In ‘The Homesman’


Presented by Roadside Attractions

Directed by Tommy Lee Jones

Screenplay written by Tommy Lee Jones, Kieran Fitzgerald (The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández) and Wesley A. Oliver (The Company MenNo Country for Old Men), based on the novel by Glendon Swarthout (The Shootist). Read More →