Standing Up, Falling Down

Movie review by
Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media
Standing Up, Falling Down Movie Poster Image
Crystal, Schwartz make regret funny; substance use, cursing.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 91 minutes

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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Human beings are complicated: flaws, weaknesses and bad decisions don't necessarily sum up someone's overall character. Happiness is fleeting, sadness fades, but "regret is real." Our selfish actions can create an irreversible impact on others' lives. Communication is a theme.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters are humanly complicated, with flaws and weaknesses. Two positive supporting characters are diversely cast.

Violence
Sex

Romantic elements are at backbone of story: A 65-year-old often reflects on the success and failure of his two marriages, and a 34-year-old is obsessed with "the one that got away." A couple kisses passionately. Brief moment of implied masturbation. A man wakes up in a strange bed lying next to a bra and a note. Movie has theme of infidelity creating more problems in the long term than it solves in the short term. Characters joke about sexual acts using crude terminology; in other moments, they use the correct terms for genitalia.

Language

Multiple uses and variations of "ass," "bitch," "d--k," "hell," "screw," "s--t," "f--k" etc. A couple of crude words are used to describe sex acts.

Consumerism

Some jokes are made in which the names of well-known restaurants are used for punch lines, but it doesn't feel like product placement. A character's surf suit has the brand name emblazoned across the chest.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Conflicting messages about alcohol consumption: Marty is an alcoholic, and while that's shown to have some negative consequences, booze is also shown as a tool for bonding and good times. Several characters are shown smoking joints and/or high for comedic effect.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Standing Up, Falling Down is a buddy comedy starring Billy Crystal and Ben Schwartz that deals with regret and loss. The mature themes are likely to be best appreciated by adults who've lived long enough to understand the idea of making life-altering mistakes. The movie presents a complex take on drinking and marijuana use: Marty (Crystal) is an alcoholic who persuades Scott (Schwartz) to drink aggressively and to smoke pot (even coaching him through it). While everyone seems a bit exasperated with Marty's substance use, it still leads to fun, sex (implied), and friendship (a cop even gets high with him). Expect lots of swearing ("s--t," "f--k"), as well as some very crude terms for sexual acts. There's a moment of implied masturbation and a passionate make-out scene between a single man and a woman who's married to someone else.

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What's the story?

In STANDING UP, FALLING DOWN, after Scott's (Ben Schwartz) stand-up career hits the skids in Los Angeles, he moves back home to live with his parents in Long Island. While he's trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his life, Scott becomes friends with his 65-year-old dermatologist, Marty (Billy Crystal), an alcoholic who's trying to resolve family issues. 

Is it any good?

Crystal and Schwartz are comedy prizefighters: One jibs, the other jabs, and viewers are knocked out. The duo make a sensational comedy team, combining the old guard with the new. It feels authentic, nostalgic, exciting, and right. As Scott and Marty, the two comedians almost feel like extensions of each other. Their interactions are comfortable, and the dialogue so natural you might think they wrote it themselves (which is a real credit to screenwriter Peter Hoare). But the zippy patter goes well beyond that. Scott is a comedian, and humor roils in all of the little interactions of life -- whether it be a dad who doesn't stop watching TV to greet an estranged son or a mother who doesn't knock. Then there's Scott's other dynamic pairing: his relationship with his sister, Megan (brilliantly played by Grace Gummer). The siblings' interactions are full of quick-witted burns and loving slams.

Standing Up, Falling Down asks, in the characters' words, this question: Once you've "f--ked up" a relationship, can you "unf--k" it? The themes include life-altering mistakes, depression, suicide, infidelity, death, and lots of regret -- and it's hilarious. There's not much here to appeal to kids and teens, and that's probably a good thing: Director Matt Ratner sends mixed messages about drug and alcohol use. Marty is an alcoholic, and even though that makes him miss an important event and it's harming his relationship with his kids, he's also having a great time. When he gets high, he blows an important opportunity, but he makes a friend. The ultimate impression is that escaping life through substances is a blast -- too bad, because that's the only part of the movie that isn't funny.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what regret means and what the filmmakers want Standing Up, Falling Down's viewers to take away from watching.

  • Do you think drinking and drug use are glamorized in the film? Are there realistic consequences? Why does that matter?

  • How does this movie compare to other buddy comedies? Why do you think it's rare to see comedies that put an older and a younger person together as friends? 

  • Marty is a communicator: How and why do you think his attempts at communication work so well with Scott but not with his son? Why is communication an important life skill?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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