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  Publicity Stills of
"Funny People"
(Courtesy of UIP)

Genre: Comedy/Drama
Director: Judd Apatow
Cast: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, RZA, Aubrey Plaza, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow
RunTime: 2 hrs 26 mins
Released By: UIP
Rating: M18 (Coarse language and sexual scenes)
Official Website: http://www.funnypeoplemovie.com/

Opening Day: 1 October 2009


Over the past few years, writer/director Judd Apatow ("The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Knocked Up") has shown that nothing—not even losing your virginity or the miracle of childbirth—is sacred. About his third film behind the camera, he says, "I'm trying to make a very serious movie that is twice as funny as my other movies. Wish me luck!" Apatow directs Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann in "Funny People," the story of a famous comedian who has a near-death experience.

Adam Sandler, Eric Bana, Jason Schwartzman, RZA and newcomer Aubrey Plaza join a cast that reunites Judd Apatow with Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann and Jonah Hill in their third comedy together.

Movie Review:

Before getting their big break, comedians more often than not start out on the stand-up comedy route. Shows like Last Comic Standing, aiming to unearth stand-up talents have unearthed and the likes of Russell Peters and Dave Chapelle have taken over. However, it was not too long ago when the great comedic actors like Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams and Adam Sandler did their time on such gigs. Having made the transition to the silver screen successfully, their comedy usually comes in the form of a slapstick nature and rarely, the stand-up form. However, here in Funny People, Judd Apatow has given Adam Sandler to revisit his roots.

While the movie is titled Funny People, this review must come with the warning that if you are used to the Adam Sandler staple, then this is definitely not anything near The Waterboy or Little Nicky. It feels a lot more like Punch Drunk Love, his attempt at drama but it is not entirely that either. Funny People has its funny moments but this is also accompanied by tender and emotional moments. After all, it is about the one thing we all have coming for us, death.

Adam Sandler plays George Simmons, a famous comedian and box office star, in a role that mirrors very closely to that of Sandler’s life. One day, Simmons learns that he has a terminal illness and with death potentially reaching his doorstep anytime, Simmons decides to hit the stand-up circuit once again and he soon discovers Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), a young comedian who has the potential but has not been able to garner the laughs he wants. Simmons soon hires Wright to write his material for him, even to the point of allowing the latter to open for him at a high-profile gig of his. The friendship leads to Simmons’ discovery that his fame does not match with the number of friends he can depend on and finds great comfort in befriending Wright.

At the same time, the illness also gives Simmons a renewed vigour and a story like this is not complete with the girl that got away. The girl in question is Laura (Leslie Mann) and Simmons ponders whether it is high time for him to obtain the catch that he had missed. This is as far as this reviewer dares go lest he divulges too much to give the movie away.

Funny People gets the casting right with Adam Sandler as the leader of the pack. He has been a consistent actor who, although, is known for his comedy, has done his fair bit of drama as well. In this movie, he gets the chance to do fantastic stand-up comedy as well as channel the somber soul of a dying man. Seth Rogen as Sandler’s right-hand man is a perfect foil to Simmons. He is the young upstart and protégé, full of naivety and enthusiasm and Simmons the seasoned performer, devoid of formalities and full of lethargy. Leslie Mann does indeed make us feel like she was the one who got away, always lighting up the screen and providing support to Simmons though reluctant at first. The rest of the cast is supported by Eric Bana who plays Mann’s husband and could have had more screen time, Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman who play Rogen’s house buddies with their equally unusual antics.

So, why is this movie not as funny as everyone else’s movies?
Funny People refuses to follow a traditional storytelling method or use a two or three-act story. Instead, the movie flows pretty freely and things happen pretty messily just like life perhaps. It is easy to be sympathetic towards the different characters’ plights and situations without once having to feel like the character is the villain or a hero as the characters slowly start to feel like they could be anyone of us or anyone we know. This also causes the movie to run at its near two-and-a-half-hour runtime, meandering at a slow but bumpy pace. Writer/Director Judd Apatow may have enjoyed considerable success with his other flicks like Knocked Up and The 40-Year Old Virgin but he may find that fans of his previous works may not take too kindly to Funny People.

Movie Rating:

(Only a small portion of Sandler/Rogen/Apatow fans may develop a taste for Funny People)

Review by Mohamad Shaifulbahri


. Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)

. You Don't Mess with the Zohan (2008)

. Knocked Up (2007)

. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

. The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)

. Anchorman DVD (2004)

. Fun with Dick and Jane (2005)

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