When seasoned comedian George Simmons learns of his terminal, inoperable health condition, his desire to form a genuine friendship causes him to take a relatively green performer under his w... Read allWhen seasoned comedian George Simmons learns of his terminal, inoperable health condition, his desire to form a genuine friendship causes him to take a relatively green performer under his wing as his opening act.When seasoned comedian George Simmons learns of his terminal, inoperable health condition, his desire to form a genuine friendship causes him to take a relatively green performer under his wing as his opening act.
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.
- Nov 28, 2009