Directed by Judd Apatow.
Written by Judd Apatow.
Starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann and Eric Bana.
Release Year: 2009
Review Date: 8/3/09
Hey, they couldn't ALL be great.
Judd Apatow, who has written, directed, or
produced a half-dozen classics in the last five years, has in his
new "Funny People" a film that does both comedy and drama sorta
well, but never really crushes it thanks to another too-long running
time and Adam Sandler in a performance that never quite gets there.
"Funny People" is maybe three different
films rolled into one. The first features Sandler as George
Simmons, essentially a made-up version of the real Sandler in that
he is playing a former stand-up comic who made it big in major--but,
dumb--comedy films. After learning that he is terminally ill,
he hires an assistant named Ira (Seth Rogen) to write jokes AND take
care of his household chores while completing a life of banging hot
groupies, performing at corporate events and swimming in his pool.
The second film features Rogen as one of three housemates in Los
Angeles who goes from deli man to stand-up comic to Simmons's
assistant to his life coach. His roommates include Mark (Jason
Schwartzman, as elven as ever), a C-level star of an ABC Family-like
hit sitcom, and Leo (Jonah Hill), a more established version of Ira.
This swath of scenes--certainly the funniest in this movie--will
remind everyone of the comic scenes in
where Hill plays a loser living with other losers who inject profane
comic relief when necessary. The third film features George's
attempt to get back together with his former girlfriend, Laura
(Leslie Mann). This final 30-40 minutes of "Funny People"
ultimately seals its fate; it features one of the stranger
manipulations of an audience I have seen in a while, as we watch
George and Laura fall back into things, mainly thanks to Laura's
belief that George may still be terminally ill, and how that may or
may not destroy Laura's family life (she has two kids and an
Australian husband, played by Australian Eric Bana), and how all of
this may be George's fault. ???
The first and third films weren't great, but
they were occasionally sad, funny, cute or appalling and that was
entertaining. You know coming in that this won't be balls-out
comedy like, say,
"Superbad" was; but, in having Sandler star as Bizarro Sandler,
I thought it would have been better at times to have someone who
isn't really a comic play the comic. It even looks like stock
Sandler footage was used to show Simmons at a younger age...this,
combined with stock Apatow players Rogen, Hill, Schwartzman, Aziz
Ansari and others make this feel like other Apatow comedies but none
of these players are built for comedy-drama. This is probably
the only comedy in history to attempt dramatic overtones but still
feature a high volume of profane words for someone's johnson.
The two genres can work together, but I don't think they work well
when it comes to having someone utter "come on, man, show me your
cock" 15-20 times, along with at least 200 f-bombs. Seriously!
No matter what, I thought the last part of
the movie was terrible and completely made "Funny People" derail.
It doesn't help that this film is 150 minutes long. Friends, I
say this a lot on Bellview--comedies should NEVER be this long.
Films featuring Adam Sandler should NEVER be this long. In the
age of Twitter, instant messaging and people that call staying three
years at one job "long term", movies should be getting shorter, not
longer. The length of "Funny People", at times, is
interminable; at one point late in this film, one guy just stood up
and started pacing behind the back row to stretch his legs.
"Funny People" is not bad, but I certainly
won't be watching it again, unless someone can put together a DVD
for me of just the scenes featuring Hill, Rogen and Schwartzman
hangin' out and talking shit. Hot!
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard