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I need to get my biggest criticism for "Funny People" out of the way
here at the beginning: it is not the movie the marketing campaign would
lead you to believe it is. While it is true of the ads that this film
is more than just a comedy and that it contains some heavy themes
involving a near-death experience, it would be more accurately
described as a dark drama punctuated by some very funny lines. But I
suppose that doesn't get people in to see the movie.
After all, the film stars Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen (who have wonderful rapport), among many other, uh, funny people, and is written and directed by Judd Apatow, the director of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up." Of course the trailers have been playing up this angle but, as my wife commented, that's like marketing "Schindler's List" as "From the director of 'E.T.' and 'Jaws'." It doesn't tell you much about the movie you are about to see.
This beef aside, what you will see is a very mature drama (yes, I said mature despite the rampant penis jokes) reminiscent of the best work of Hal Ashby and Cameron Crowe. Sandler proves once again that he is a fine actor, and his performance as successful movie star/comedian George Simmons is tonally similar to his fantastic work in "Punch-Drunk Love" and "Reign Over Me." A very isolated man made rich by a number of films that look like rejected Wayans Brothers ideas, George lives in a castle of a house, complete with an indoor and an outdoor pool. His only obvious human contact consists of photo ops with his fans, and the servants at home that he keeps at arm's length. Early on he is diagnosed with a rare blood disorder for which no clear treatment exists. Death on his doorstep, he begins to examine his life. He hates himself, but that he let so many important relationships go to waste is something he hates even more. It's time for a change.
Enter Ira Wright (played tenderly by a slimmed-down Rogen), a struggling stand-up who works at a deli counter and lives on a pull-out couch and in the shadow of his successful roommates, comic Leo (Jonah Hill) and sitcom star Mark (Jason Schwartzman, who also co- wrote the simple acoustic score with Michael Andrews). Ira and George cross paths at a comedy club where George performs a self-loathing monologue that generates almost no laughs. Ira follows his act, trashing George's apparent depression. In spite of this, George hires Ira to be his right hand man, as a joke writer when he decides to return to stand-up, and as a general errand boy. The dynamic of this new relationship is unclear to Ira, but it seems like a foot in the doorand it sure beats serving macaroni salad to soccer moms.
What follows is a long road to recovery, physically and emotionally. I say long, because the movie runs almost 2 ½ hoursa daunting running time for a comedy or a drama. Anyone who has enjoyed Apatow's work as a director knows that his films have become incrementally longer. At times, I wished he would take the advice from the character Alan Tudyk played in "Knocked Up," as Katherine Heigl's boss who instructs her to not necessarily lose weight, but to "make everything tighter." I wouldn't know what to tighten exactly, because there are many excellent scenes. No matter. I would rather sit through 2 ½ hours of this than the same length of loud, racist pummeling robots. I hope there are other moviegoers out there that share my sentiment.
In addition to the great work by Sandler and Rogen, we have Mrs. Apatow, Leslie Mann. She plays Laura with great vulnerability, the love of George's life, left behind years ago when he cheated on her. She has since married the Australian version of George, Clarke (a hilarious if underused Eric Bana). They have a big house and two beautiful and funny daughters played by Apatow's and Mann's real-life daughters Maude and Iris, who also played Mann's and Paul Rudd's daughters in "Knocked Up." George and Laura reenter each other's lives and try to pick up the pieces, much to the dismay of the reserved, more morally-centered Ira.
There is an awful lot of movie to cover, so I will stop there. The screenplay, while thoughtful, emotional and at times hilarious, follows a non-structure that would infuriate Robert McKee. There is no three-act structure. There is no classic antagonist. The unusual pacing allows the story to unfold more like life in that way. I'm curious to see how this movie will be received by audiences expecting a typical Apatow film. The thing I appreciated most about "Funny People" is that Apatow takes huge risks with the ambitious goal of "making a very serious movie with twice as many jokes" as his previous films. That he more often than not achieves his goals is a remarkable feat, and while "Funny People" isn't a great movie, it shows you a fascinating side of show business, and more importantly, it makes one believe that we can look forward to a wonderful and varied body of work from an original and, maybe someday, great filmmaker.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, many comedians as themselves. Director: Judd Apatow. Running Time: 140 Minutes. Rated: R for tons of crude language, and for sex and brief nudity.
Consensus: Expect a fascinating drama with fine acting and a few hearty laughs (if you can handle crude humor). Just don't expect the movie they show you parts of in the previews.
I'll start by saying that I am a Judd Apatow fan. I've loved most of
his movies, including the two previous movies he's directed, The
40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. I've seen each many times, and they
are two of my favorite comedies.
This, however, didn't prepare me for his newest, Funny People. Apatow has become well known for his sweet, adult comedies, but this movie is very different from his others. I would almost call it a "funny drama." This has it's pros and cons. I don't think I laughed out loud as much as in either of the other two films, but what I got in return, is an actual good movie, that's actually ABOUT something.
I liked Adam Sandler before I knew what a good movie was, as I grew up watching his lighter movies, like Waterboy, Happy Gilmore, etc. I've seen him so much that he ceased becoming an actor to me and actually reached a point of self-parody. His role as comedian George Simmons is perfect for him, because he's basically playing himself, to a point. He gives the performance of his life, even better than Punch-Drunk- Love. His portrayal is cold and confused, angry and hurt. It's what a comedian might truly be like when he's not on stage. He plays it perfectly, providing a likable character while at the same time showing us there might not be so much to like. He's the best part of this movie, and that's saying something
The supporting cast is great, as usual. Seth Rogan actually plays a different character than his other movies as Ira, who acts as a great foil to George Simmons. Jason Schwartzman and Jonah Hill provide some great comedic backup, including their hilarious fictional sitcom "Yo, Teach". In fact, a lot of the laugh out loud comedy from the film stems from the many supporting performances and cameos (My favorites being Marshall Mathers and James Taylor). Eric Bana is very funny, and Leslie Mann gives an impressive performance as well.
Funny People's only real problem is it's ambition, and that's definitely the best problem to have. It's nearly two and a half hours, and while I didn't have a problem with the length, it obviously had to end when it did, as there aren't many people who would want to sit through a three hour comedy. I wish it could have ran even longer, as some subplots weren't fleshed out nearly enough. I really liked the romance between Ira and Daisy (Played by Aubrey Plaza, who is sweet and funny in every scene she's in), but it was rushed, and in the end cut short, which is a shame, because it's one of the best parts of the movie.
Above all, this is a real movie. It's success doesn't just depend on the amount of laughs it receives. Thanks to Sandler and a thought provoking story, this is more than just another raunchy-sweet comedy. The movie will definitely divide people more than the others, and I'm not sure it will find as big of an audience. Judd Apatow has improved tremendously with each movie he's directed, and, despite his detractors, he's going to be the king of the comedy movie for a long, long time.
I really enjoyed the first half of Funny People. I don't think I've
ever seen any other Adam Sandler flicks (I didn't want to), so I was
happily surprised by the good mix of comedy and drama here.
As soon as Sandler's ex-girlfriend and her family enter the fray, though, the film comes to a screeching halt. And when we learn new facts about his disease, the film turns itself upside down and inside out trying to figure out what it wants to do with this information. No one knows how to react; not Sandler, not the girlfriend, and not her husband. Judd Apatow thinks they do, but it's so hard to follow the character's ideas and feelings here that the film becomes unreadable. Because we don't know where the characters are coming from, we don't know whether we're watching comedy or drama, so we don't know how to feel or react. The little girls, while enjoyable to watch, are cloying and don't advance the story. And when a lot of screen time is devoted to the people playing games and generally goofing around, you're no longer watching the characters--you're watching the actors simply having a good time, which further slows down and confuses the story.
Seth Rogen's character seems to know what's right, but his voice gets lost amid all the confusion until the end, when we get an all-too-convenient moral finish that doesn't address any of the important issues raised in the film.
I think this could have been a much better film with a lot of the meandering in the second half either tightened up or removed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's difficult to imagine what was in Judd Apatow's mind. A serious comedy of sorts? Adam Sandler is at the center of the confused attempt. He's better than he's ever been in a part that is, quite frankly, disagreeable to say the list. This creature that has achieved fame and fortune but without building any interior life. A bum, ignorant, silly, self pitying, spoiled, uneducated, moronic and I could go on but I guess you get the picture. The strange thing is that the story is structured in such a way that seems to imply we're suppose to feel for him even feel identified by his predicament. He's told he has a fatal disease at the beginning of the film but then miraculously he gets better and then you have another hour of film in which new characters are introduced. I wanted to run out of the theater and scream. There are a few funny moments and Jason Schwartzman and Eric Bana are very good but,somebody please tell me, what the hell was this?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first hour and a half was fairly entertaining, funny one-liners,
exactly what I was expecting. Then the scene when Adam Sandler's
Character goes to visit his former girlfriend's house. It dragged ON,
and ON, and ON, and so forth. It was like the tempo of the movie went
from snappy to outright boring and annoying. There were at least 15-20
minutes where nobody in our almost sold-out crowd laughed. Terrible.
It was almost like Apatow took two completely different editors, gave one the first half's footage, and the other the second half, and had them edit without seeing each other's work. The second half was painfully awful to sit through. Some people left the theater. Plot development was slower than ever, everything was predictable.
None of the characters were likable, expect for maybe Seth Rogan's and the children. It didn't "move" me in any way possible, plot was fairly pointless and dry, satire was nearly absent, and it relied on penis, fart and sex jokes that were nowhere even close to Superbad. Sandler was OK. It was nice having lots of cameos: James Taylor, Eminem, Tom from Facebook, Ray Romano and Sarah Silverman just to name a few. But it didn't make up for subpar acting from the others.
I thought maybe the ending would make up for the second half it could have been a decent comedy, but it was formulaic and awkward. I've seen much funnier people in much more funny movies. Rent it and hope the "directors cut" literally cuts about 60 minutes off the film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Thus far, 5,000 people have voted this movie as a 9 or 10 star rating.
There's really, honestly only one explanation for this: These people
were associated with this movie and have something to gain by its being
rated high enough to dupe people into buying it.
For a movie that was reviewed as being "Uproariously Funny" and "Hilarious" that has a cast of comedians, is located in the comedy section, and is called "Funny People" one would expect something along the lines of, oh, I don't know, a comedy.
Instead what you get is a two and a half hour long, poorly directed drama about a man who finds out he has a rare form of leukemia, has a 92% chance of dying, so decides to go on a last stand-up comedy tour but has lost his "funny." So he hires an aspiring stand-up comedian to do his writing for him.
It was as if they were trying very, very hard to show just how un-funny starting comedians were. In the scenes where some stand-up was seen, this would have been the opportune time to inject some comedy into this otherwise depressing and pointless movie. Instead, you get bad jokes, vulgar jokes, and groaners.
So the main character (George Simmons) begins talking to his (now married with two children) ex-girlfriend who was the "love of his life" (that left him because he cheated on her). Later discovering that he has miraculously beaten the odds, and is in fact getting better, the "love of his life" decides she will leave her husband, keeping the two children, and live with George. Ultimately, having already cheated on her husband and slept with George, she decides that he hasn't really changed all that much, and no lessons are learned by either party. She goes back to her husband attempting to lie about having slept with him. Yes... Really... This is the 2.5 hour plot.
The closest thing to "funny" in this movie was a very short fight scene between her husband and George that happens at about 2 hours and 15 minutes into the movie. There was also a ton of cameos of various comedians, and on all parts, they either failed to even have dialog, or their dialog was utterly pointless, and non-humorous. In fact, the funniest cameo in the whole movie came from a 10 second bit with Eminem. That should tell you something.
This movie would have deserved a 5 if they had cut out some of the completely undeveloped sub-plots, some of the inane, and incredibly long dialog, and made it a decent 1 hour, to 1.5 hour movie. However, after sitting through 2.5 hours of this move in the hopes that SOMETHING would climax and make me feel like it wasn't a complete waste, by the end, I was left feeling that this was yet another 2.5 hours of my life I would never get back.
To reiterate, there was just no comedy in the movie. Even the humor you see in the trailers, when actually put into context with the actual movie, still ends up being depressing.
The "40 Year Old Virgin" was brilliant, and I loved it. Don't let the fact that the same director was involved in this crap-storm fool you into buying it. If you must see it, rent it, or better still, con a friend into renting it so you at least won't be out the money.
One of the major rules people should have learned about movies is this:
No matter how specific the title is, it may not be what you thought it
was going in.
Judd Apatow had two previous titles, both being specific in title, with "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up". So when you see a movie with a title like "Funny People", you will probably expect a very funny movie; This wouldn't be necessarily incorrect, but misleading: There are funny people in this movie, it is just not a movie that is truly as funny as the title would lead you to believe.
Adam Sandler as George is surely the highlight of this movie, We think we will see Adam playing a serious role, and for the most part, he does. His character, dying from a rare blood disease, is brought up almost immediately, so the movie moves right away.
George decides to go back to the stage after making a handful of truly bad movies (An obvious look back at Adam's acting career) and bombs on stage, but Ira, played by Seth Rogen in a different kind of role, gets some big laughs. George hires Ira to help him write jokes, and a different kind of friendship, but a friendship nonetheless, develops.
George soon gets into touch with an old girlfriend, played by Leslie Mann, Director Apatow's Wife, and the two begin to realize how much they have both changed. She has a husband (Eric Bana, in a truly funny role) and two kids (Iris and Maude, Mann and Apatow's real life children), while George lives a life less fulfilling.
The movie takes a real backseat to conventional rules of movies; There is maybe, at a maximum, of two real clichés in this movie, one mentioned in this review already, and the other for good measure.
The movie feels a little long winded, running at nearly 2 and half hours, and the characters are sad, but interesting. Seeing Adam playing a shadow of himself is certainly a depressing site, and Rogen doing all he can for the man that he admires, since he was a kid, no less, is even better, proving that Rogen isn't a one trick pony, hopefully making this a bit more noticeable for his performance in The Green Hornet next year.
The movie also has some great performances from Jason Schwartzman as an actor starring in a horrible television sitcom and Jonah Hill as a competing comedy performer.
But there has to be a reason why this movie is ranked so low, and it could almost be said of the running time, but its coming right back to my first paragraph about ironic titles in movies. I suspected a laugh riot, and got mere chuckles. The stand up is hard to enjoy, being very oriented in genitalia humor and sex jokes doesn't make it really funny, just repetitive.
And I will be honest: I didn't pay attention to the title business and felt rather disappointed. This is a movie not sitting at the dinner table with all the Apatow produced movies of the last three or four years; like George, he's sitting at his own table, not quite like everyone else.
Perhaps now that I've seen the movie for what it truly is, a drama with some funny parts in it, I can now go back and see if maybe I can look at it any differently.
Here is an Apatow film different from anything he's directed, written or produced lately, and deserves to be seen at least once, and while people will see this and perhaps, not laugh as hard, here is hoping Apatow doesn't lose face and give up on this kind of writing. Apatow can make characters more like real people, and he needs to consider maybe doing a drama a little more than once or twice, now that he has done it. If he doesn't, he might end up like most writer-directors, who just get tired after awhile, instead of trying out different genres of film, regardless of what his "Fans" might say anyway.
7 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A cross Between Terms Of Endearment and a Dice Clay stand-up act, Funny
People is a vanity project taken to pathological and psychotic
extremes. One gets the impression Apatow's motivation for making this
was to inflict psychological torture upon his viewers. The film stars
Adam Sandler as a man who you know will be dying at the end of the
film, so the movie starts out with raunchy dialog that would make Kevin
Smith blush, then abruptly shifts gears by emotionally manipulating the
audience using tearjerker plot techniques typically used in the average
Lifetime Movie of the Week.
Perhaps there is a way to effectively execute an odd conglomeration such as this, but Funny People fails at every level. The jokes are tasteless rather than funny, and the sap-o-meter is off the charts - making Pretty Woman seem like Die Hard in comparison.
Seth Rogen and Sandler have proved to be fine comedic actors, you wince at watching them sell their souls to Jud Apatow. If there were any justice, this narcissistic and brutally maudlin film would ensure Apatow never works in Hollywood ever again. He casts his kids and his wife and shows them off adoringly. With every frame, you can practically hear him screaming: "I have made it! I can make my own Heaven's Gate!"
I honestly felt sick to my stomach walking out of this cringe-worthy film and was unable to sleep or develop an appetite for food 24 hours after. No movie has ever had that affect on me.
I am ashamed to admit seeing this film but I feel obligated to warn people to stay away. Do not even rent for a buck when it comes on DVD. This is a total waste of time and is offensive in every way imaginable. I was one of many to walk out of the film before it ended at the screening I attended. So, unfortunately, I cannot give a full review, although I am sure I missed out on it's overly sentimental conclusion, and I don't regret missing it. Do yourselves a favor and steer clear from this abomination at all costs. Sandler & Rogan ought to be ashamed of themselves. When all's said and done, Apatow will be finished in Hollywood.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I went in with high hopes expecting this to be very entertaining and sure enough, I was in for a treat! Seth Rogen and Adam Sandler were in perfect sync with each other and had some very funny jokes that were not only witty but very good. Even the theme of a near death experience seemed to really fit in with the movie.But after the first hour and a half and Sandler being cured, the film just dragged. I found it very odd that after Sandler was cured, there was little to no mention of him being cured after he initially tell everybody, then goes back to being the same jerk he's always been. It just didn't make any sense of what someone who just went through a near death experience would really do. Then here was a lot of pointless drivel about his ex married to an Australian dude that Sandler was trying to get back, how he still loved her, blah blah blah,and he still doesn't get the girl in the end! All while he's with the girl, him and Rogen get into a huge fight and then they're just done.What was that??? I kept thinking "What happened?" The duo that Sandler and Rogen portrayed so wonderfully from before fell apart, and the film just ceased to be funny.If the film would've ended after Sandler gets cured, I'd easily say Best Film of the Year, but because they had to goon and on for almost another hour and a half about something that had almost nothing to do with the story really killed Funny People for me. If you're going to see it, I suggest going for the first hour and a half then leaving because if you stay, get ready to pull out a pillow and get a good almost hour of snooze.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
FUNNY PEOPLE (2009) ** Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Aubrey Plaza, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, RZA, Aziz Ansari, Torsten Voges. (Cameos as themselves: James Taylor, Eminem, Andy Dick, Charles Fleischer, Paul Reiser, George Wallace, Norm MacDonald, Dave Attell, Sarah Silverman, Ray Romano) Misfire dramedy with Sandler as a self-centered jerk comedian whose life-threatening illness comes into focus as he attempts to re-connect with an old flame (Mann) with the help of his new assistant and sudden best friend (Rogen), and up-and-coming comic wannabe falls flat on so many levels in both genres: drama and comedy; not really absorbing as the former and very seldom funny as the latter). While comedy king Judd Apatow attempts something different he misses the mark completely: entertaining. The film is neither and painfully again the comedy is mostly a mélange of dick jokes trying to fade out the 'heavy drama' at hand. Heavy-handed instead and the fact that a corral of big-time comedians are given senseless cameos providing them nothing to do except smile and nod.
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