FUNNY PEOPLE (B+)
As far as 2009 summer movies go, Funny People was towards the top of my must see list. The film was written and directed by the genius of Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, 40-Year Old Virgin) This comedy was held in the highest regard with Apatow at the helm and a cast featuring the likes of Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann (seen above), Jason Schwartzman, Jonah Hill, and Eric Bana. With countless cameos by famous comedians and side spliting laughter throughout, Funny People definitely had the recipe for success.
Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler have been friends since Adam's days playing characters like Billy Madison. The film starts as we see a much younger Sandler being taped while doing his classic old lady voice for a prank call.
Funny People features Sandler as George Simmons, an established success in Hollywood's comedy circuit. He then discovers he needs to begin an experimental treatment to fight an aggressive form of Leukemia. This shocking news makes George realize that he is not close to his family and that he has no friends. George is a big lonely star in his huge house with all his loads of money, but viewers can obviously see his life is empty.
George decides to go back to his comedic roots and start doing stand up at a local comedy club. Seth Rogen has the task of following up the famous George Simmons at the mic after George has a meltdown on stage. George thinks Ira has talent in a comedic sense and hires him to write jokes for George's new ambition at the stand up microphone. Ira and George become close after Ira takes on more responsibility as George's personal assistant.
So far, throughout this entire portion of the film there is hilarious stand up from an array of different comics and as I have already mentioned plenty of celebrity cameos. Laughter engulfed my senses for durations of this film so long my face hurt. Literally.
Then, the film moves into the much slower final act of Funny People. George lives, his disease has been beaten. Now his ambition is to rekindle the love he lost to "the one that got away." Leslie Mann plays that one, and her name is Laura. She is married to an always gone on business and cheating Australian husband played by Bana. George becomes close to Laura and her family (which coincidently is Apatow's family) over a weekend leading to a lot of difficult crossroads.
The final act is where the movie really lost its sparkle. It just seemed to drag on to the point that 2 hours and 30 mins feels like an eternity. The begininng of Funny People moved so swiftly with its comedy elements also while touching base on each of the films interesting personalites. The third act is dominated by Sandler, Rogen, Mann, Bana, and the little kids to the point where the flow in the first portion of the movie is disrupted. And now the tone seems more serious, and less funny. It resembles more drama than anything else, and to say the least I did not like the ending.
Now of course I am not saying that a film that is funny needs to be funny the entire time. I think Apatow's first two directed films he also uses the final act of the movie to be more serious. His first two tries incorporated humor into the serious part of the story while not taking an hour and 30 minutes to have it all unfold. Funny People does take an hour and 3o minutes to unfold and focuses on this lost love and her family when the best part of this story is Sandler and this ensemble cast of comedians. The family killed in Knocked Up, it missed here with me.
If you have seen the movie here is more...SpoiLer
I was impressed with Sandler's acting skills in his demanding role. He had a lot of emotional parts that showed his range as an actor and not just a comedian.
Overall, Funny People was a very good comedy. The best of the summer?? No, I think that crown stays with The Hangover. None the less Funny People is well written (for the most part), well acted, and has comedy to make you laugh like you just took a face full of The Jokers laughing gas. Even the cameo from Eminem himself should make you want to go. If you haven't seen it I recommend a viewing.