Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Film Review: "Funny People" (** 1/2)

."Funny People" .(R)
Written and Directed by Judd Apatow.
Starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Leslie Mann, and Eric Bana.
Released by Universal Pictures.
Feature Running Time: 2 hrs. 26 mins.
Rated R (for language and crude sexual humor throughout, and for some sexuality).

I've been a big fan of just about anything that Judd Apatow's had his name attached to in the last three years. Not only directing wise, but even when he's producing; "Superbad" is my second favorite film of all time, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" was one of my favorite films of 2008. His films always seem to have the right balance of laughs and heart. And with his third directorial film, "Funny People", he has finally failed (somewhat).

A lot of people griped about the previews for "Funny People", saying that they made the film look uninteresting. I have to say the opposite. I can also say that I found the previews to be happier than the actual film. "Funny People" was one of my most anticipated films of the summer. I've always loved the idea of serious comedies. Ones that have heart and wit. Apatow has been the master of the serio-comedy genre. Most of the films he's been attached to lately have tackled the issue of grown-up characters going through a maturing stage. "Funny People" is no exception with this concept, but its execution isn't as focused as Apatow's previous films.

It pains me to say that I didn't like "Funny People". Its potential was so great that I don't see why Apatow failed in his execution. I had such high expectations for the film, but I still let a lot of things slide, and still, in the end the film isn't good enough for a fresh rating from me. The film is very long, at nearly two and a half hours. However, at least I can say that it didn't feel that long, even though it is slow moving throughout. But the worst thing about the film is that it's not all that funny. Here's a film with Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen, two of the funniest guys in the world. And you have all of the funny supporting players: Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman as Ira's (Seth Rogen) roommates. Leslie Mann is charming and funny as usual as Laura, George's (Adam Sandler) only long-lost true love. And Eric Bana shows some comdedic chops as Clarke, Laura's Ausie husband. The stand-up scenes are funny, but I felt there weren't enough of them.

Adam Sandler is good in his role as George Simmons, the one-time comedy movie star, in films with names like "Merman", and a film about his character turning into a baby's body; the film obviously takes some funny jabs at some of the garbage that comes out in Hollywood these days. The baby film that George stars in resembles "Little Man". And Seth Rogen ACTS in the film. He was good at playing lazy, foul-mouthed, pot smoking characters in the past, and he's always been a favorite actor of mine. But here, Rogen plays a much more serious role. I think the film makes him take a step forward, as in this film his character has to make very big and moral decisions that effect the characters around him as well as himself. And one of the film's true strengths is that Sandler and Rogen have great chemistry together.

I haven't really delved into the story of "Funny People" too much. There are more than just one or two stories in the film. In fact, that's one of its biggest weaknesses. There are too many subplots in the film. I just wish Apatow would have taken more time with George really thinking about life while he's dying with cancer, instead of going into too many different directions with other characters. I liked the romantic triangle aspect in the last act of the film. And I have to say that the way the film dealt with the romance was very unique. I talked about how Rogen's Ira character is forced to make moral decisions in the film, and he makes a big one in the end.

I liked how the film really didn't resolve too much, and left many things hanging in the end; I hope it isn't a spoiler to say that some characters don't fully learn their lessons from the situations that happen in the film, much like is the case in real life. And the final scene of "Funny People" is the one that almost made me have to give the film a fresh rating, but as I thought about it, one scene in a 150 minute film shouldn't be the deciding factor. There are a lot of positive aspects to "Funny People", and it's a film that I look forward to revisiting soon; it's definitely a film that's worth at least two looks, beings there are a lot of things going on. But as a whole film, I think you should wait for the DVD.


  1. Great review. Nice to see you on Blogger. (cjsmovies from RT)