Funny People (2009)

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Published on: 2009.08.01

Fortunately, my hopes weren’t set too high when I went to see “Funny People” on opening night. Directed by Judd Apatow, the same guy who did The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, this movie’s previews didn’t promise much.

But I was pleasantly surprised.

While the previews made the movie look far from funny — more like a drama, the actual movie contained loads of good (and crude) jokes.

It’s about George Simmons (played by Adam Sandler) who’s an aging comedian. Early in the story, he finds out he’s dying, and the rest of the movie is (mostly) about his journey to near-death and back again. Just after the halfway point, he finds out he’s recovering.

But there’s more than one plot in the movie, and it’s difficult to see which one Apatow was focusing on. There’s the plot centering on Seth Rogen’s character, who is an up-and-coming comic, and his less than impressive roommates. There’s the plot with Sandler’s character and his ex-girlfriend (now married), played by Leslie Mann. That one’s tied to the dying/recovering plot, but not very well.

Also, the movie doesn’t really come to an end. I won’t spoil it for you, but I’ll say that I was looking more for an ending rather than a fade-out when very little had been solved.

It didn’t help that the color saturation appeared to be off-kilter throughout the movie.

Then why did I like it?

The jokes were just funny. If your sense of humor tends to the crude and gross, this one’s for you. The movie is likely worthless if you’re offended easily.

The dying/recovery situation is fertile ground for jokes, as long as people can get over their hang-ups. Also, the contrast between Sandler’s riches and Rogen’s poorness sets up several funny moments.

And since both are comics, there are long scenes in the movie dedicated to stand-up comedy and the development of Rogen’s character, helped along by his experiences with Sandler’s character.

There were also several hilarious moments involving cameo appearances by celebrities. My favorite is probably the one with Eminem (Marshall Mathers).

Some personal observations:

1) Jonah Hill needs to lose weight. He seemed even heavier in this film than in earlier ones. He’s a funny guy (not as funny as Rogen, but still funny). We don’t need to lose him to weight-related illnesses. Dude, you’ll still be a creative, funny person if you take care of yourself.

2) I’m generally not in favor of directors using their own family members to fill roles, but Apatow’s kids did a fantastic job playing the two girls in this movie.

3) There was quite a bit of product-placement that was overblown and entirely too noticeable in this movie. MySpace was the worst offender.

4) Some scenes from the trailer were not in the movie. I’ve noticed this with movies before and it’s just irritating. I know the trailers are made by people other than the film-makers, but still… If those scenes were catchy enough and well-done enough to be in the ad, then they should be in your movie. Period. This problem alone took one point off my rating.

IMDb: Funny People
Wikipedia: Funny People
Rating: R
(language and crude sexual humor throughout, and some sexuality)
Length: 146 min (2:26)
Director: Judd Apatow
Genre: Comedy / Drama
My Rating: 7 of 10
Family Friendly: No (Nudity, strong language)
Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Torsten Voges

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