March 13, 2010

#068: Funny People 6/10

I was pretty excited when I learned that Sandler was starring in the latest Apatow project. Two and a half hours later I can say that I enjoyed this film quite a bit. However, it didn't live up to my expectations. It's definitely worth watching, but it is long. I enjoy dick jokes just as much as the next guy, but this film might have overdone it a bit.  However, there were enough good moments for me to give it a 6 out of 10.

This film starts out with real footage from Sandler's early days of comedy. It was kinda striking because if forces you to think about the fact that he is basically playing himself in this role. It was kind of genius, and for the most part really works in the film. Sandler plays George Simmons, a famous comedian/actor who has starred in lots of films and made tons of money. George finds out he is dying. This prompts him to take young comedian Ira (Seth Rogen) under his wing. With Ira at his side, George reevaluates his life and tries to figure out how he will spend his final days.
I found the first half of this film to be pretty great. It is amazing how Apatow can tell a dick joke while still making it seem sweet and touching. There are some funny moments, but the film always feels grounded. It never gets silly. This is an impressive feat when you consider Sandler is doing his crazy voices all the time. I think Rogen does a great job at keeping things real and making his character feel genuine. Funny People has the same feel that other Apatow films are able to create, and for me that is a good thing. The interaction between George and Ira is really entertaining to watch. That dynamic is, and should be even more so, the central driving force behind the film.

An hour into this film I paused it for a phone call and realized I wasn't even halfway through this monster. It is a full 2.5 hours long. I wasn't sure how they were going to fill that much time, but I soon found out. We are introduced to one of George's old girlfriends. This subplot takes over the second half of the film, and didn't work nearly as well for me. The second hour dragged much more than the first. What made the film so enjoyable to watch got watered down with all this other stuff, and I couldn't get into it. They replaced something "real" with something cliche, and it really took away from the overall film.

I would still say go ahead and watch Funny People. It has Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman in supporting roles. They are always fun to watch. I am tempted to recommend you watch the first half of this film and then turn it off. Just make up an ending in your mind.

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