“Funny People” is Conflicted Comedy

Genres: Comedy and Drama
Running Time: 2 hr. 20 min.
Release Date: July 31st, 2009 (wide)
MPAA Rating: R for language and crude sexual humor throughout, and some sexuality.
Distributors: Universal Pictures

Directed by: Judd Apatow

JJ Rating: B-

[EDITOR'S NOTE: I sent Jammer this article from the Guardian about the top 12 overused movie jargon cliches and told him to include every one of them. The man gets extra credit for this one.]

Famous comedian George Simmons (Adam Sandler) has a bad, bad illness and just might die. He hires Ira (Seth Rogen) after he sees him do standup as his little helper with his little bit of life he has left. Sprinkle a bunch of cameos and you have Funny People.

It just went ON and ON and ON and ON and if a broken record was something all the youngin’s knew then that would be the cliché I would use. The director, Judd Apatow, has created a franchise for himself with the way he styles movies with crassness, cold and funny. I think that he is amusing and entertaining person who has a unique eye for these kinds of movies. As Funny People’s helmer it was not as great as the others and it was mostly dead in the first, second, third and last…yadda yadda…act. It, as well as Apatow, had a hard time deciding if it was to be a darkly comic experience or an overly dramatic with a bit of funny experience. It was so frustrating. I couldn’t decide if I should be laughing at toplining Sandler and Rogen or should I be feeling empathy and sorry for their pitiful lives?

Adam Sandler I like. I think he did a very good job in this film. I think that this was one of those roles that had him be more serious and less funny and it was believable. I liked and hated his character. He was loveable and a total jerk. Seth Rogen is a good actor as well. He has the ability to laugh at himself. The running joke is: You’re skinny now and you can no longer be funny. This is apt considering it is pulled from actual comments people have been making about him lately and they used it in the film. With this battle of words going on between him and Entourage’s cast and crew he is shaping up to be as witty in real life as he is as his returning character movie after movie. That is the problem with him. He seems to be the same person over and over again. Add Jonah Hill in there as well because he’s either funny or very, very obnoxious as the same character.

Eric Bana is Clarke the husband of Laura (Leslie Mann) who is the ex of Simmons. I really like him he’s different in every role and he can be likeable and despicable in a likeable kind of way and in this film he’s despicable in a likeable way. Mann is charming and when she smiles it’s hard to take the words she says as crass or rude even though they totally are. She has this mesmerizing effect and the one scene I loved in the trailer with mocking Clarke’s Australian accent was funnier in the film. It is one of my favorite parts.

Apatow's children were so adorable. Aubrey Plaza plays an up and coming comedian. She is uncomfortably funny. The argument that she has with Rogen is just bizarre in a good way. It is one of those moments that I was hopeful but was totally disappointed the next scene. It was such a Indian Giver of a movie. Here, here LOL do it...then the next moment it slammed my toe with a overly dramatic moment that I had no clue where it came from let alone what to do with it.

My number one favorite part (in a very small list) is the cameos that happen in the middle of the film. They happen one after the other after the other and it was handled so well that it flowed perfectly. It’s a classic moment in cinema right there. How many cameos can you have and out do the entire film? However many were in this one.

Whoever was the lenser must have been bored. The scenes were so generic in the way they were shot that there was nothing remarkable there. Nothing. The Apatow narrative arc isn’t really followed here. It’s not the same type of movie as he has had in the past. It’s more serious than funny. It is also LONG and drawn out. I was DYING. I think if there was a little more backstory for the Simmons there might have been a bit more sympathy for him and his plight. But there really isn’t. It seems like a hatchet job with the story starting where it started and then progressing in a bit of a skip.

Apatow is an uber creative trope of a person and is far past a sophomore slump that many fall into. However, it is how Funny People feels to me. It feels like a sluggish failure that could have been much more. The focus seemed to be on the knuckle-gnawingly tense level with “will it be crass and hollow or crass and meaningful?” It was a let down that it was just crass without heart. The Hangover was crass with heart. They were able to do it…why can’t the Lord of Crassy do it? Maybe next time he won’t make such a conflicted movie and it just might be a hybrid instead…something I believe he was aiming for this go around but failed.

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