2
Aug
2009
Review: Funny People
Funny People
Sam
It seems as though Judd Apatow's Funny People had years of reputation going against it. Apatow has brought some of the best comedies of the 00's, not to mention a couple of comedies that were too funny to have a long shelf life.

Leading up to this final installment in Apatow's "trilogy" (40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up), we've learned that his films are often comprised of hilarious improv and great pop-culture references. This is not that type of movie. But that is not such a bad thing; well, maybe for the people who didn't get the memo. For all our reader out there, Funny people is a DRAMA. Yes, they may say it's a comedy or bend a little and say it's a dramedy, but it is, in my mind, a drama. It may throw some people because it includes some of the funniest people in show business at the moment. It also happens to be about comedians so of course there will be jokes, but at the heart of Funny People is a story about mortality, loneliness, the price of fame, and cock jokes.

The story starts out with an famous comedic actor, George Simmons (Adam Sandler), finding out he has a rare form of leukemia. Hilarious, right? He starts doing stand-up again and really goes into the depths of his unhappiness (word on the street is that comedians are unhappy folk). He pines for his lost love (Leslie Mann) and even reaches out to an up-and-coming comic named Ira (Seth Rogen). Rogen is hired to write jokes and be his assistant, but quickly becomes Sandler's confidant in this part of his life.

Luckily Sandler recovers from the disease and tries to get back with Mann who is currently married to hunky Aussie Clarke (Eric Bana). In this part of the movie, things seemed to feel dragged down by the courtship of Mann. But it was good to see things went the correct, logical direction rather than the typical uber-fantasy of the movies.

While the Mann courtship held the movie down and likely made it longer than it should have (a surprisingly common complaint amongst Apatow films even though I thought Knocked Up was perfect in length) the performances throughtout the movie were surprisingly strong. Leslie Mann did a great job and proves that she is not just there (but probably is) because she is married to the director (what a lucky motherfucker, I digress). Sandler proved touching and went beyond is wacky shaba-do's. Rogen did a solid job and really sold me as a stand-up and real person thrust into this crazy situation.

Of course there were some laughs, but that's not what I'm taking away from this clearly very personal movie. It's all of the things about being in comedy: working to get a laugh, bombing, writing material, whoring yourself for a shitty sitcom that made me intrigued. There will no doubt be the people that are shocked that it wasn't hilarious on the level of Knocked Up but I say, fuck "˜em. Apatow did a great job at making me care about these funny people and their pretty serious lives.

B+

Notes:

-Great cameos from tons of comics

-Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn wrote a lot of the material Ira, George, and the
other fake stand-ups used in the movie. The "ball cleavage" throw-away line is right out of Posehn's act.

-Mad props to Aziz Ansari for portraying RAAAAAAAAAANDY, AKA, Dane Cook

-Speaking of "Mad" there were three Mad Men references, two of them came in a row! They came in the form of cameos by Bryan Batt (played the agent) and Maggie Siff (played J-Date girl). The third reference I'm goin' out on a limb but it was Ira's real last name Wiener, but pronounced WHY-ner, like mad men creator Matthew Weiner.

-Sandler's bit on the piano at the comedy club was heart breaking and surprisingly well directed by Apatow and Sandler's speech at Thanksgiving made me really shocked at how Sandler really is the old school comic actor now, as he's surrounded by the next generation.

-New thing I'm gonna do, it's called what I think Jordan will give the movie. This is tough but I think he probably liked it a bit less than I did, lets say B-.
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