Funny People (2009)
User ReviewsReview this title
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 door—and 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 hours—a 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The whole affair was awful and I really wanted a refund of my $10 when i came out.
AVOID THIS FILM AT ALL COSTS!!!
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.
George and Ira meet when George goes to one of the old comedy clubs he used to do stand up at and stands on stage without any material, talking about how he knows he's bombing when he can hear people in the audience cough. George ends up hiring Ira as his assistant and their odd friendship/work relationship begins. Ira has always been a big fan of George and is spellbound by the limos, private planes, and the women George has gotten so used to.
Their relationship is at sometimes interesting, I'm not sure where Judd Apatow (the director) meant to go with this picture, he seems to get a little bit of everything, not enough of the good and too much time spent on the bad. Ira likes one of his neighbors, Daisy "Aubrey Plaza" and that was a fun relationship that the movie really neglected. By the end, it felt very underdeveloped. Most of the dialog feels improvised and very clunky. Judd Apatow was trying to convey something here that he just couldn't in the end.
For what does work, this movie deserves a 6/10 rating. It's a dramedy, anyone looking for one or the other will likely be disappointed.
I do enjoy a lot of Adam Sandler's works. I am not that fond of this film. This film has too much drama that drags on and on. The only funny lines seem to be used as fillers to wake you up when the film starts to lag. I do not understand why they would have such an all-star cast of amazing comedians with a story line that is so lack-luster Where is the comedy? Well at least it wasn't a total loss...the popcorn was good.
This movie is terrible. Adam Sandler is BRILLIANT in it. I hate him, but he's damn good in this. Still didn't save it from being this crushing over-long, drunken rambling, P.o.S. Seth Rogen is useless, but I blame a lot of that on the script. His character is very hard to sympathise with throughout, as he is jealous, sycophantic, traitorous and opportunistic.
Superbad was great and his character, I felt, was the true tragedy in the movie. The movie clicks along fine as it deals with it's plot for the first hour and 15 and just when you thought the movie was about to wind down in a bar full of celebrity faces, the movie literally loses the plot and introduces another entire romantic comedy's worth of plot / farce which mismatches pace with the rest of the movie - 1 whole hour taking place over the space of one 24 hour period - while the rest of the movie took place over jumps of weeks/ months.
Disorienting, boring, loud and lazy. A poor, poor effort from Judd Apatow, who I thought would know better. He should take a note out of Todd Phillip's book and take some time between projects to ensure they end up tighter, more developed and funnier. His attempt to deal with complex themes such as the desire to succeed in a cutthroat industry, terminal illness and unrequited love are better left to those sincerely capable of handling them. His handling is pretentious, insincere and at best clumsy. Know your place Apatow! Everyone knows a comedy should never be longer than 1 hr 40 mins, except in very special cases. This is not one of them.
Appalling. Do not watch this.
Funny people is a rather boring, depressing story with unlikeable and unmotivated characters that give you the feeling that they weren't having any fun making this movie. And that means a lot when I say this, as most of my favorite comedy actors are in this.
The story just drags on and on and keeps changing direction and following random, short plot lines throughout the whole film. And when you think it's finally over, the story changes direction completely one more time - new characters and locations are introduced and it just drags on for almost another hour until it ends in the wreck that is this movie.
All of the characters served their purpose and had good character development, most of them great.
Seth Rogen's character of Ira was my favorite, I think (I loved his eagerness in doing the right thing. The airport? He had a great nature to him.). Jonah Hill was hilarious and in all the right spots in the movie, and I'm not usually big into his characters. I'm glad they made Jason Schwartzman as ridiculous but thoughtful as they did. There was good use of the Apatow daughters, and I thought that the Australian husband served a good purpose in telling one of the big points of the film. That's part of what made the film for me, the great personalities and placement of all the characters.
Please go into this movie without expecting it to be something that it's not. It's a long, thoughtful film with a lot (and I do mean a lot) of laughs. A far cry from how some people are painting it out to be, but I guess they were expecting something else entirely.
Yes, the writer/director of "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up" has turned in a decidedly more dramatic direction than his previous features, but if you are willing to go in with an open mind, the film does not disappoint. It is a touching, at times even heart-wrenchingly painful film, mainly because the realistic portrayal of its characters, and how corruptible they show the human condition as being.
The film begins with George Simmons (Sandler), a wildly popular comedian who has done everything from stand-up to cruddy movies (including "Mer-Man" and the baby-body-swapping epic "Re-Do"), and has become quite shallow and empty from fame and fortune. When he learns he is suffering from a rare form of Leukemia, and is told he may die, he begins to break down. Eventually, during a rather morbid stand-up routine, he encounters struggling comedian Ira Wright (Rogen), whom was his following act on stage that night.
Although insulted at first by Wright's act, which mimicked his depressing routine, Simmons eventually hires him as an assistant and co-writer for his material, even giving him the opportunity to open for him.
Their relationship as co-workers soon blooms into a pseudo-friendship, as Ira worships George, and George confides his secret with him. Here is where the movie gets interesting.
Up until this point, Ira has been stuck with his friends (Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman), two other comedians, but unlike them, his career isn't really going anywhere. Now, he has been presented with the opportunity of a lifetime, but because he is so starstruck by George, he doesn't necessarily recognize that the friendship is only one-way.
The rest of the movie is a heartfelt struggle as George tries to rebuild his life, despite his life-threatening illness, including coming back into contact with "the one who got away" (Leslie Mann in a fantastic performance), while Ira must come to terms with the fact that his new friend still has a lot of growing up to do.
The film is quite exquisitely written and directed, and the characters come off as perfectly real. It's very interesting to see a movie in the comedy genre that has the guts to say "No, sometimes people don't change immediately", as Apatow does. The second half of the movie has some amazing scenes where we see how Ira and George's lives might turn out, as we ponder whether or not George will learn from his predicament or not.
The performances all around are amazing. Sandler once again delivers a jaw-dropping dramatic role, as he had previously done in films such as the new classics "Punch Drunk Love" and "Reign Over Me." Rogen also shows he has some chops, delivering quite a stirring performance, and proving he isn't "just another funny guy." Mann has some amazing scenes herself, and in a way reminded me of people from my own past. Other supporting characters, including Hill, Shwartzman, Eric Bana as Mann's husband, Apatow's children Maude and Iris, Aubrey Plaza as Rogen's potential love interest and even the RZA as Chuck, Rogen's co-worker, all deliver strong performances.
The movie also has numerous comedian cameos, as people who know and love George, including Sarah Silverman, Norm MacDonald, Charles Fleisher, Ray Romano and Andy Dick, all portraying themselves, which gives the movie another breath of realism.
Apatow's growth as a filmmaker is also shown, as this is certainly his most "cinematic" movie to date. The composure of the shots is expert and the stirring musical taste really adds a lot to the film.
And while the movies does border on a two-and-a-half-hour running length, like Apatow's previous film, I didn't mind at all... it was certainly the quickest two-and-a-half-hours I've experiences in a long time.
Overall, the film is going to turn a lot of people off, with it's main focus being on drama, and not comedy, but if you are willing to open your mind, you will find an amazing tale to learn from and laugh with.
For me, a perfect 10 out of 10, one of the best movies of the year so far.
i love the real feel of it. there was no climax, no heartwarming resolution. sh*t just happened. It felt a little weird for a movie but they pulled it off. only bad thing for me was the length of the movie. there were slow parts but it didn't ruin it. It continued to be funny even until the end.
SOOOO many guest stars. if you like seeing stars out of their natural habitat you will enjoy this. even youtube's Bo Burnum was in it.
it was even odder that the audience wasn't really suppose to like the main character (george). it was just a completely different type of movie that i can understand if some people don't get into it.
I give it an A and i suggest it to all comedy fans. It definitely wasn't predictable... or unpredictable. You'll see.
Enter Judd Apatow. Establishing himself as a big success story, he sets off with a deep and engaging comedy/drama about comedians. It would clock in at over 150 minutes; it would involve multiple themes, would have extensive long shots of characters going through emotions and whatnot, and would pretty much be the defining film of his career. Only one problem: it's rather bland. Funny People isn't that funny, isn't that deep, isn't that engaging, and as a matter of fact ultimately collapses in the third act (that refuses to end). Nobody in the movie was likable (except for Seth Rogan's character) and the addition of Apatow's family in the flick turns it into a heavy production version of a home video.
Funny People follows a famous and extremely successful comedian George Simmons (Adam Sandler) learning that he is dying from a rare disease, and his only hope for survival relies on a series of experimental medicines that has a track record of not working. With a grim outlook on life, George takes a comedian under his wing (sort of) and starts making amends with all of the major people in his life. Ira (Seth Rogan) is the comedian under Simmons' wing, as he tries to build a success being a stand-up comedian. But little by little Ira realizes that George's life isn't clean-cut pretty, and that George isn't the best human being, even if he is the best comedian.
The biggest problem with Funny People is that the film is supposed to be a mix of comedy and drama. Unfortunately, the mix is like oil and water with comedy attempting to engulf the first two acts, and drama taking over in the final act. Then, the comedy gets a bit tiring with the same brand of humor being repeated over and over again, by multiple characters. There are at least four comedians doing the same exact brand of crude humor, with the lone female comedienne (Aubrey Plaza) not delivering a single laugh from me. A bit of variety would be nice. If one comedian can combine multiple ways of making an audience laugh (George Carlin, Dave Chapelle) why can't five of them in one movie? Outside the comedy acts, Apatow didn't add much humor to the storyline, especially when compared to his other works.
Adam Sandler is a superb actor when he needs to be. But this is an example of the writing undermining the acting. Sandler does a grand job as George Simmons, but the role doesn't give him much of a chance to grow. Simmons is a prick pretty much throughout the entire movie, making it the second time Sandler portrays a character that's way too jerkish to sympathize for (Click being the second). Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman are two other examples of fine actors with little material and much room to be borderline-likable. The multitude of cameos, despite it being merely Apatow giving thanks to most that has helped and influenced him, helped the dramedy a little. The best cameos are that of Sarah Silverman and Eminem.
The infamous third act is where it all goes downhill. The third act is so pointless, you could have stretched the second act a little bit longer and ended it right there. Sadly though, this is where the epic fatigue is thrown in. Judd Apatow is a fine director, but whenever you work with family, it suffers just a bit. The shots and scenes concerning Apatow's family are longer, made with more attention, and made with more care. Leslie Mann's shots are at least five seconds longer than anyone else in the movie, and there is an extensive two-minute sequence involving one of the daughters singing in Cats. The kids and the husband could have been totally written off and the movie would not have been such a bore—and would not have to be 150 minutes.
Bottom Line: What happens with epic films is that they run too long, take too long to tell the story, develop a snobbish attitude, tests my patience, and undermines and forgets all the skills and qualities that made the director famous in the first place. With the exception of Saving Private Ryan by Steven Spielberg, all the movies listed in the first paragraph were whether disappointing or were far from being their best work. Funny People can be jumbled in; it was an epic massive dramedy that is much weaker in terms of writing, quality, and execution than 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and nearly every movie with Apatow's name.
One can only wonder how much better and more focused Funny People would be if family wasn't involved in the filming. One can only wonder how much better Funny People would have been if they had chopped 45 minutes of footage and limited the extensive and sometimes-pointless cameos. That's all we can do. Wonder.
The 'comedy' was gross, the characters all self-absorbed whiners, the plot was predictable. If I would have engaged with the movie I probably would have needed therapy myself after this two and one hour tour of misery and crudity.
If you are miserable, and love company, maybe this movie is for you.
George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is an aging comedian, hating the cards God has dealt him. He has no friends, his career is washed up, and almost immediately after the film starts, is diagnosed with a terminal inoperable disease. Shortly after he begins taking experimental medication, he meets Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), a struggling young comedian trying to live up to his roommates, fellow comedian Leo (Jonah Hill) and sitcom star Mark (Jason Schwartzman). With his life slowly fading, George hires Ira on as his assistant to write jokes for him, and begins to try and make something of his life before it ends.
While it sounds more like a drama than a comedy, Funny People does pack in the laugh-out-loud moments Apatow comedies are known for. While a lot of it looks like it continues the grand tradition of being improvised (with whole scenes dedicated to stand-up comedy routines), there is a great deal that appears to have been written by Apatow himself. Almost every joke kills because of how genuinely funny and outrageous there are. While the gross out humour appears at a minimum here, the graphic content discussed within the dialogue continues to be as uniquely entertaining as it always has been. I found myself gasping for air at more than a handful of comments these characters make to each other; they are just that funny.
But a lot of the laughs come few and far between what is actually going on within this overly ambitious drama. And unfortunately, it is one of the few things holding the film together.
It is clear from the start of the film, featuring old footage of Sandler as an aspiring comedian, that this tale is very special to Apatow. But his desire to tell this story on his terms, while aspiring to pay homage to his past and present as a comedian and filmmaker, seems to come in the way of the film itself. Scenes tend to go on and on for no purpose at all, and whole scenes seem to have been added to give greater depth for some characters, but end up being entirely superfluous and useless. Apatow is well known for having movies that tend to be 20-minutes too long. But with Funny People, he seems to break his own rule and drag the film out 40-60 minutes longer than it needs to be. The entire final act of the film is downright agonizing for how dragged out it comes off, and how ill-paced it becomes as it stretches on. I found myself checking my watch just hoping it would end sooner rather than later. At 145 minutes, this just seems like overkill. There is no reason this movie ever should have been released as being less than ten minutes shorter than films like The Dark Knight or Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
But the key detractor from the film is its tone and consistency. It never seems to be able to balance itself out as a comedy/drama like Virgin and Knocked Up did. Apatow does not let the film gradually let one tone win out over the other; he just crams scenes filled with both elements almost absentmindedly. In one single scene, the film can go from hilarious, to sad, to hysterically funny, to downright depressing in less than five minutes. After years of being part of film crews in some capacity (either as writer, director or producer), you would imagine something as amateur as this would be totally out of the question for Apatow. Surely this sloppy brand of film-making is better suited for an earlier project, as opposed to what should be a crowning achievement in a continually blossoming career?
While the story and pacing is all over the place, the acting fares a little better. Sandler, playing a popular comedian much like himself, delivers a devastatingly excellent performance as Simmons. It seems that playing a character that is so closely similar to his actual career was just what Sandler needed to prove he has not completely squandered away that promising talent he once had. The visual expressions on his face, through pain and sorrow, are almost enough to forgive him for travesties like You Don't Mess with the Zohan and Click. This is a very adult Sandler playing a role more mature than he has ever had before, and he gives some of his best work to date within it. Rogen delivers a fairly well done performance as well, but seems almost deflated in some scenes. He gave his all in films like Knocked Up and Observe and Report, but here he just seems dialed down. Almost like he wants Sandler to overshadow him completely.
The supporting cast, from Schwartzman and Hill to Leslie Mann, newcomer Aubrey Plaza and a surprisingly hilarious Eric Bana, all give great performances, but nothing extraordinary. It was interesting to see Mann in a dramatic role, and while she is imperfect, she does well anyway. The film packs plenty of hilarious cameos too, some of which are just too good to spoil.
Funny People is just fabulous when it wants to be. But for the most part, it truly is a disappointing effort on Apatow's part. It is far too ambitious a project, and just muddled with tonal issues that it just never accomplishes what it sets out for. Which is a shame.
first came 40 year old virgin. foul mouthed and well polished, virgin is a modern romantic comedy classic with big heart and big laughs (not to mention big box office). his follow up film was the quiet masterpiece, knocked up. what could've easily been a sitcom worthy stoner comedy was instead a beautiful comedy/drama about taking responsibility and finding the balance in life that makes adulthood work.
now, he gives us his third go around - funny people. with a premise this dramatic (adam sandler dying of a rare blood disease and finding the true beauty of life) it seemed like apatow was making a career turn that only a few brave and bold would ever dare. yet, unlike most, apatow has crossed genres and created another drama/comedy with as much film-making merit as it has big laughs. no one seems to quite get it right when it comes to this genre accept for apatow. he's so tuned in to this generation it's scary.
this film does bring the drama, it does bring the heart, and it does bring the humor to keep his core audience happy. with each film he grows up a little bit more. with each films he steps up his game visually as well. the beauty of this is, that the audience of casual movie goers ranging from their mid teens to mid life are growing with him whether they know it or not. it's easy to entertain. it's easy to move some one emotionally. it's not easy to do both. apatow, though? he makes it an art. you'll be laughing at potty humor, and at the same time you'll be watching a beautiful story about characters you might normally take for granted.
sure, eric bana is a little over the top, and a few emotional moments here and there aren't as strong as apatow probably thought they would be... but man... there's no arguing he's the best at what he does. you will laugh. you will be moved. you will not notice the running length of almost two and a half hours. you'll remember this film. it makes quite an impression.