Scott Rollins is a struggling comedian in Los Angeles with a career that’s gone nowhere. Giving up on his dream, he moves back in with his parents and sister on Long Island with no plan, no idea what to do with his life. One night, while drinking at his favorite bar, he meets a regular named Marty, a dermatologist with an alcohol problem and a fondness for drunken karaoke. Marty’s had a sad-sack life, but he has a sense of humor, and pretty soon he and Scott have formed a bond. Meanwhile, Scott is still pining for Becky, an ex-girlfriend he broke up with years before, who is now married to another guy.
The stories in “Standing Up, Falling Down” work because of the chemistry of these characters, but mostly thanks to its two leads — Ben Schwartz (“Parks and Recreation”) as Scott and Billy Crystal as the porkpie-hat-wearing Marty. In his directorial debut, Matt Ratner has just the right feel for the people who populate his movie, with a supporting cast that makes every scene look smooth and easy: Debra Monk and Kevin Dunn as Scott’s parents; Grace Gummer as his sister, Megan; and Eloise Mumford as Becky. Jill Hennessy and Nate Corddry have small roles, too. There’s a bit of melodrama along the way, but there are plenty of laughs, too.
“Standing Up, Falling Down” has been playing film festivals since April (I saw it Sunday evening at the St. Louis International Film Festival), but hasn’t been picked up for national distribution yet, so I have no idea when you’ll get a chance to see it. But when it comes around, (whether in a theater or streaming), I recommend it. It’s the kind of small, independent, character-driven movie that will put a smile on your face.
I give “Standing Up, Falling Down” a 7.5 out of 10.