Six weeks after Hurricane Sandy ripped through their community, destroying homes, cars and nearly everything else in its path, Long Beach residents got a chance to laugh on Monday night thanks to Long Beach alum and international film star Billy Crystal.
Crystal, in conjunction with the film’s studio, 20th Century FOX, and local officials, hosted a free screening of his new movie “Parental Guidance,” which hits theaters across the country on Dec. 25, for Long Beach residents at the UA Lynbrook 6 Movie Theater.
“To see what happened to our town from a distance was very difficult,” Crystal said to a packed theater of Long Beach residents. “We got beat up pretty good but we’re going to come back.”
Crystal toured his hometown the day before the screening and said it was chilling to see, but added he was glad he could do something nice for the people of Long Beach.
“If we can just do a little something to make people happy for a couple hours that’s great,” Crystal told the Herald. “Unfortunately our theater … you can’t show anything in it for months, so it’s great that the Lynbrook theater has opened their hearts also.”
More than 1,000 Long Beach residents packed Lynbrook’s six theaters, each of which started the film at staggered times so Crystal could welcome the respective audiences.
Always one to bring smiles to peoples’ faces, Crystal didn’t wait long to crack the audience up. As he entered the first theater shortly after 6:30 p.m. the crowd erupted and most stood and clapped, but not everyone. Crystal said to a woman toward the front of the theater, “What are you, too cool to stand up?”
Those in attendance were provided free coach buses from Long Beach City Hall to the theater and were then given free concessions and refreshments.
For Long Beach residents who have been through so much over the last six weeks, Monday night was a welcomed change of pace. “The people who have gone through what they’ve gone through, they need a little enjoyment and relaxation,” said resident Pat Devine. “And the whole idea that during this time, he’s giving us the gift of comedy. This is a really nice thing to do.”