Saturday, 19 September 2020
Funny People
Tuesday, 04 August 2009 19:46

funnypeopleposterFunny People walks a very fine line between comedy and tragedy and manages to keep that balance thanks to the talent of director Judd Apatow. Though his name gets tossed around as the reigning King of Comedy in Hollywood these days, this is only Apatow’s third feature film as a director, though he’s written and produced for so many others it’s hard to keep track. He’s famously paired with Seth Rogen, but this time adds an even more famous face to his posse – Adam Sandler.

Sandler proves yet again that he should stop making his own films. He is so much better when he makes films for other people! Being challenged by others gives him a chance to show real talent in roles that require more depth than his typical slack-jawed expression and silly fake accent. Funny People gives him the opportunity to show ability to act without overacting.

Sandler plays George Simmons, a comedian just as famous as the man playing him. George started out in standup and went on to be a major movie-star in really un-funny Hollywood comedies (remind you of anyone?) He’s got it made financially, living off royalties in a big mansion and sleeping with a different woman every night. But when he’s told he has an advanced form of cancer coursing through his body, all he can think about is how meaningless it all is.

funnypeoplepic2Nostalgic and depressed he takes to the stage again at a comedy club and meets Ira Wright, a young comedian struggling to get noticed. Ira (Seth Rogen) is a likeable guy who just can’t seem to find his niche in comedy or with women. He’s talented though, and George recognizes that and asks him to write some jokes. It is with the relationship between Ira and George that the film really shines. Both are using each other selfishly, but somehow a bond develops.

Another Apatow muse, his wife Leslie Mann, plays Laura. She is “the one that got away” for George and he has always regretted screwing up their relationship by cheating on her. She’s unhappily married with two kids and a sexy Australian husband who isn’t any better at faithfulness than her former flame. When George and Laura reunite, judgement is clouded for both of them because of his illness.

funnypeoplepic1Funny People is a very strong look at relationships of all sorts – how they are built, how they disintegrate and how they sometimes leave an irreversible impact on our lives. It is a really well written movie, and a great showcase for the talents of its’ stars. My one complaint about it is the length, which I really started to feel during the final half-hour. At nearly 2 ½ hours long it would have benefitted from some editing.

Despite this flaw it is a very funny movie most of the time, with a great story and cast. Adam Sandler is particularly strong, and doesn’t go out of his way to win the audience with antics. Instead he gives a subtle performance as a guy who let fame turn him into someone even he doesn’t like very much. Seth Rogen has a nice sincerity about him that makes him the perfect compliment.

I really liked Funny People. The length is a problem, but it is still very much worth seeing.