Saturday, November 21, 2009

Funny People (2009)

FUNNY PEOPLE
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY: JUDD APATOW
OVERALL SCORE: 7.25/10

After finding out he's dying of cancer famous comedian George Simmons (Adam Sandler) takes in struggling comedy writer Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) as a personal assistant/writer. The two hit it off, becoming instant friends, but things get complicated when George's ex-fiancee, Laura (Leslie Mann), stuck in a deadbeat marriage, comes back into the picture.

The best way I can think to describe this recent Judd Apatow installment is "what if." Funny People is a strong look inside the ups, downs, and personal struggles of comedians, both famous and not... or, well half of it is. The first half of Funny People is amazing. Heartfelt, deep, and really built on a great buddy chemistry between Sandler and Rogen that provides a nice amount of believability to their odd pairing. Unfortunately once Laura enters the scene the movie goes from amazing to mediocre in a hurry. That's not to say Mann, or even the very funny Bana, do anything wrong, it just feels out of place in the narrative.

The Laura side story accounts for about 50minutes of the 2 and a half hour runtime, and I have to say I would have rather it been cut out. You could quite easily in fact do just that without sacrificing much in the way of the story, and you wouldn't lose that moral insight present throughout the rest of the film (both before and after). It's really not all that bad, provides a few good laughs, but feels like such a weight on the rest of the film I really wish it wasn't there at all. Granted Bana is absolutely hilarious in the role, and well acted by his counterpart Mann who is asked to serve up the Apatow struggling wife special (perhaps an inside joke in there somewhere?).

Of course as writing goes Apatow takes advantage of his plot to the fullest. With subtle jabs to the films of a variety of comedy actors Sandler and a variety of special guest stars are all too willing to poke fun of themselves for a few minutes here and there. Though the majority of it occurs in the first hour by the end I really enjoyed going on this journey with the main characters. They're transformations, real character insights, and fall backs felt authentic, and plausible. Apatow never forces the actors to get along, or even like each other, instead he just allows the narrative of the two take course. If only he had just stuck with it he could have hit a cinema comedy home run.

As comedies go recently Funny People definitely exceeds the modern mold, but a flailing latter half weakens a bit too much.

3 better thoughts:

CMrok93 said...

I still think the movie was good, it just needed about 20-30 minutes to be shed off, and it probably would have been great.

Zach said...

I just feel like he couldn't decide which plot lines to go with so he just jammed them all together.

Alfindeol said...

You hit it on the nose though. The second half of the movie was just plain torture for me. Even Adam Sandler checked his watch during it.

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