Blu-ray Review: Standing Up, Falling Down

In the scheme of artistic expression, stand up comedy looks rather easy. You show up on a small stage at a comedy club, stand in front of a brick wall, talk for 15 minutes and walk off the stage to thunderous applause. You don’t have to rely on band members wanting to rehearse. There’s no running around raising millions for your indie feature. You’re not trapped in a room for days and month hacking away on your great model. You fly out to Los Angeles. You do a couple open mic sets, impress the booker so they put you in the main room. One night a talent scout for The Tonight Show gets dazzled by your talent. After your network debut, you get a Netflix comedy special. The you find yourself making movies and a TV series. It’s all so easy. Except it isn’t. You got to be funny and have to get all the great breaks. There’s a lot of people working that easy ladder to success. Standing Up, Falling Down is an indie feature that shows what happens when a comic realizes he’s missing too many rungs.

Scott ( Sonic the Hedgehog‘s Ben Schwartz) has given up on making it as a stand up in Los Angeles. After four years of working the comedy clubs, he’s found himself back to working open mic nights instead of getting slots in the big room opening up for headliners. He comes back to his family’s house on Long Island, New York to lick his wounds and figure out what’s next. His mom already has plans for her son to get a job at the post office. Dad tells him he can come work at the family’s lumberyard. Scott still wants to perform, but he’s lost his edge. His old girlfriend while married does seem open to rekindle her spark with him. Making things worse is a strange rash on his arm. One night in a bar, he runs into Marty (When Harry Met Sally‘s Billy Crystal) relieving himself in the men’s room sink. In the midst of the uncomfortable chaos, the drunk Marty offers Scott a referral for a dermatologist. The next day he visits the doctor and discovers it’s a sober Marty. The two begin a bit of a relationship where Scott discovers the comical ways of the skin doctor. This helps him adjust to being back on the East Coast where so many people see him as a bit of a failure. While he’s great at boosting up his new pal’s ego, Marty has to deal with his own issues.

Standing Up, Falling Down really gives Billy Crystal a chance to shine. He fits nicely in a role where he’s a bit grating, a touch sweet and always funny. He gives Schwartz the space to not look like a complete sad sack on the screen. There’s a bit of emotional truth to the film coming from Schwartz’s deflated character. He wants to be able to take time to get himself orientated. It does take a bit out of person when their dream crashes and burns. Are you really out of the game? Do you need to get a regular job? Standing Up, Falling Down is an intimate portrait of creative recovery that doesn’t drop dead like Scott’s first set in the film.

The video is 1.78:1 anamorphic. The transfer is sharp enough to see Schwartz’s stubble. The audio is DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0. It’s a rather quiet film so mostly the mix gives you the odd noises of being on Long Island in the surround speakers. The movie is subtitled.

Audio Commentary has director Matt Ratner going over the film with Schwartz and Crystal. Ben and Mat are in an LA studio and Billy is in New York City. They are trying to crack each other up. This is definitely getting to watch the film a second time. They point out that the opening coffeeshop is where the writing typed out the original script. The Long Island location is where Billy Crystal grew up.

Falling Into Place (10:32) has writer Peter Hoare tells about how he was hit by the idea for the film when he had stress hives and left Los Angeles to return to New York when his writing career hit the rocks. Director Matt Ratner talks about how wanted to make it after reading the script.

Standing Together (11:21) discusses the cast of the film. They were elated to have Billy Crystal get involved in the film. He opened doors for the producers.

It’s Been a Joy (7:08) deals with the crew of the film. You get to see what it took to make the film with quite a few filmmakers on a tight set.

Theatrical Trailer (2:13) sets up the return of Scott to his old bedroom.

Shout! Factory present Standing Up, Falling Down. Directed by: Matt Ratner. Screenplay by: Peter Hoare. Starring: Billy Crystal, Ben Schwartz, Eloise Mumford & Nate Corddry. Rated: Unrated. Running Time: 91 minutes. Released: March 31, 2020.

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