Written and Directed
by Judd Apatow
Running Time: 2:26
for language and crude sexual humor
throughout and some sexuality.
Funny People was an overly long dramedy that had some funny moments, but mostly was too serious to keep me interested.
George Simmons is an A-list stand-up comedian-turned-actor who is on top of the world. He is diagnosed with a rare disease that even with a new treatment only has an 8% survival rate. George starts to take stock of his life and hires a young stand-up named Ira to help assist him. George also has the proverbial one who got away - the woman of his dreams who is now happily married with two kids. He reconnects with her and apologizes for his actions and finally has a sense of peace. But when he finds out the treatment is working and he isn't going to die, George's life takes another turn. Can he win back the woman of his dreams? Or will this new lease on life not change him one little bit?
Adam Sandler. Seth Rogan. Jonah Hill. Leslie Mann. These are not names you generally think of when you think 'serious drama' and yet, here they are in a film about a guy who is dying. Does that mean they (especially the guys) have to stick only to comedies? No, of course not. But in a movie with those actors, who all play stand-up comedians, and is titled Funny People, you kind of expect, I dunno, a funny movie. And while there were certainly some funny moments/lines, the overall feel of the movie was more serious. And it was nearly two and a half hours long. You know what movies are that long? Overly indulgent action films, overly dramatic Oscar contending dramas, and fantasy films. It's rare that you have a straight comedy that's that long. It was too much movie and the actors where overwhelmed. But the thing is, with this particular story line even if you chopped 30-40 minutes off the film, it wouldn't help too much.
In order to pull off a movie of this nature, you really have to care about the characters and at no point did I really care if George lived or died. I felt some sympathy for Ira and what he had to put up with, between his roommate stealing his woman and George treating him like crap. But for George, I cared little. He had no real good redeeming qualities about him. He wasn't really nice to anyone, and he used his old flame like he used every other woman in his life. It's hard to invest 150 minutes with someone you simply don't like.
Judd Apatow has gotten a pretty big rep in Hollywood as a hit maker. Yes, this is only the third film he's actually directed, but his name has been over a lot of the bigger comedies of the last few years. It almost feels to me like he might have gotten a little full of himself with this film. Almost like he figures he can do whatever he wants and it'll be a great film. I enjoyed The 40 Year-Old Virgin, which was a surprise success, but thought Knocked Up was overrated. And Funny People feels more like the latter than the former. It just wasn't a feel-good film. Like I said, it definitely had some funny moments. Most of the stand-up routines we see in the film are pretty good. And when Sandler and Rogan have the chance to riff off each other and have some fun, the movie feels lighter and funnier. But again, they were overmatched in the dramatic scenes to the point where it got hard to watch. But when they were allowed to be lighthearted, they were good. Jonah Hill is always funny, even in the smallest roles. Jason Schwartzman was decent in his extended cameo. Leslie Mann was OK as the 'girl' but it was a role half a dozen actresses could have played. And Eric Bana just felt out of place amongst everyone else, with his thick Australian accent.
The movie also tended to jump around a lot. There was George's illness and recovery. There was Ira trying to become a bigger and better person even when everyone was dumping on him. He had relationships with George, with his roommates and with a girl he really liked. Then there was George trying to get back into a relationship with Laura. Then you had Laura dealing with her feelings for George and her feelings for her husband Clarke, who had cheated on her. Well I guess you can see why the movie went on for so long. There were too many unncessary stories thrown in there for no particular reason. It was kind of a big jumbled mess where once in a while a funny moment would pop out, but for the most part, you're left trying really hard to care about characters that didn't give you much to care about.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I didn't think much of Funny People. Yes, it was nice to see Adam Sandler jump into the Apatow gang, but I wish it had been in a stronger story. I didn't care about most of the characters and the movie dragged on and on and on and had a very unsatisfying ending.
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