Archive for the ‘Funny People’ Category

Review: "Funny People"

August 9, 2009

Funny People, the (relatively) new comedy by Judd Apatow starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen might be the first movie ever to release both the original and its sequel in one feature-length film.

George Simmons (Sandler) is a wildly successful comedy star, who can go nowhere without being recognized but lives alone, with no real companions. Ira (Rogen) is a young, broke, aspiring stand-up comic. When George is diagnosed with a form of Leukemia and given a slim chance of survival, he begins to question how he has lived his life. He sees Ira performing a stand up routine and hires him as an assistant and joke writer.

That’s the first movie. It then spins off into a second, tangentially related plot in this rather bloated, often grim comedy. I felt like there was a lot Apatow wanted to do with this film, and he ultimately decided just to throw it all in. It could have been an expose of the vapid lives of the famous who are recognized by everybody and k known by none. It could have been the story of the pain and agony that often lies behind the comic genius (the ‘sad clown’ parable we know all too well). It could have been about a man discovering what mattered in the last months of his life. It could have been about the rekindling of an old flame, or about the male camaraderie of an old veteran and a young novice. Instead, it tries to be all these things and more. While I wouldn’t claim it would be impossible to mix some of these themes into one film, Funny People is laden with multiple unimportant side plots and finds trouble un-jumbling and balancing all it tries to achieve.

I wouldn’t say it wholly fails, it succeeds in part with most of what it attempts. But had it trimmed the edges it could have wholly succeeded with all it attempted. It catches you by surprise, for instance, when Simmons’ old flame (Leslie Mann) appears one-third of the way through the movie and immediately starts crying because she had always loved him.

It’s a rather nihilistic, depressing comedy. Apatow said he was trying to make it “twice as serious, and twice as funny” as any of his other films. He succeeded with the former. But as I stated, it ends up feeling like two movies; one where George copes with death, another where he gets re-entangled with the love of his life. The way I ultimately felt about it was that the first half was a better film, but I laughed more in the second. But truth be told, I was anxious for the thing to end.

Sandler is the star of the show, playing a serious and complex character like he never has (well, at least since Billy Madison). He kind of lampoons himself throughout; his George Simmons is known for stupid comedies and characters that make really weird noises. But he’s lonely and isolated, and faced with his own demise. The first half especially showed me the Sandler with the real acting chops.

Apatow did a decent job of creating very flawed, very real characters. At face value, they are all somewhat despicable. Pretty much every character in the film does something disgusting, but somehow you come off liking them anyway. Eric Bana and Leslie Mann
are both disloyal people who ultimately want to save their family, and even though Bana’s character comes off as a tool for the first half of his time on screen, he is shown to be no more of an ass than Simmons; that it was all a matter of perception.

Laughs weren’t exactly commonplace, and were never fits of hysteria. But the film has strong characters and some good things thrown in, even if it gets a little muddled. You might not want to sit through in a theater, but it’s worth seeing at some point.

7.2/10

This Week In Blockbusters: "Funny People"

July 29, 2009

We’ve been Hungover, and we’ve seen Bruno using a dustbuster in… innovative ways. This Friday, the third big comedy of the summer hits theaters… It’s the third film that Judd Apatow has been throth (that’s the ‘three’ version of ‘both’) the writer, director, and producer. The first two were The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. The former is one of my favorite comedies ever, while I thought its follower was rather forgettable. Hopefully, Funny People will deliver. Apatow, who has created an entire genre of comedy, is known for making risky comedy with a dramatic heart. For instance, despite the crudities in The Forty Year Old Virgin, Steve Carrel’s character Andy was a genuine, sweet-natured guy who you actually felt for. Apatow has said this new film is him trying to be “Twice as serious, and twice as funny. Wish me luck!”

The film is about an older comedian, played by Adam Sandler, who is diagnosed with cancer and takes under his wing a young up and coming stand up comic (Seth Rogen). Sandler isn’t known for his dramatic talents to the common public, who seem him as making dumb comedies where he talks funny and throws in fart jokes for good measure. But he has impressed my with his serious work, which I first saw in Spanglish, where I realized the guy could act. I’d prefer he’d do more of that, and less of Zohan, and it seems this film might be moving that direction.

I’m sure it will be funny, and maybe a little sad at times. I’m sure Sandler will yell, and Rogen will play the exact same character he always has, but I think this could be a pretty good move for the Apatow team.

"Funny People" Red Band Trailer

July 9, 2009

God bless the internet.

Remember when, for R-rated comedies, we had to watch an edited, super-lame attempt at them showing humor, all the while only hinting at the cursing, nudity, and disgusting antics that were contained in the movie? Well those were the “green band” trailers, those watered-down puny attempts that the MPAA deemed acceptable. God I hated them!

Okay, not really. But the internet has become a valuable tool for movies like these, where they can do the unofficial “Red-band” trailers and release them on the web, and the hippies at the MPAA can’t get their filthy paws on it. I’ve posted a few on this site, and here’s another. It’s the Red-band trailer for the new Judd Apatow comedy, Funny People, starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen.

I laughed, though that trailer didn’t really tell me anything about the movies plot, save that it’s about two comedians. But the ‘cleaner’ version tells me Adam Sandler’s character is diagnosed with a malignant cancer and isn’t given much time left. That makes it sound a little more serious, doesn’t it?

Appatow has redefined comedy in many ways, taking serious situations and putting laughs to them. For this film he called it his attempts to do one that was “twice as serious,” but still “twice as funny. Wish me luck!”

It’s a bold move, and I bet it pays off.