Saturday, August 1, 2009

Funny People: Dick Jokes and Death

Alright, alright, I'll say it: Funny People was pretty good. My expectations were basically met, and Judd Apatow seems excruciatingly pleased with the end result. The movie had a swell number of laughs, and managed to swing the tone from 'humor' to 'somber' well enough, but when it didn't it destroyed itself. 

Anyone familiar with the director's cut of The 40-Year-Old Virgin has the right to agree with me when I say Apatow doesn't quite know what's worth keeping in a film, or even what needs to be captured on film in the first place. Funny People suffers from one thing especial, and that thing is time. A few scenes dragged on a bit past their stay, and about 30 minutes from the end my mind started to wonder. I was yanked back in, but I want to be fully engaged when I'm watching a movie, and with this I was not. 

Leslie Mann was also a problem. I thought she was the absolute least sympathetic character to ever snag the coveted 'love interest' role. Adam Sandler's George Simmons is supposed to be madly in love with her, and she with him despite her established married life, but their chemistry is all over the place, and the motivation behind all her feelings felt half there, half unformed. The whole triangle she, Sandler and Eric Bana had going on was a failure, and with a few cuts it might have seemed more comfortable, and more realistic. 

Seth Rogen owns the film, by the way. His performance is definitely worth having seen. The whole movie is worth seeing, as it managed to be adequate, but it left me with one gnawing question: is Apatow less funny than his collaborators? Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Pineapple Express, all with his producing hand but no writing or directing, run circles around Funny People comedically and emotionally. 

Maybe he's writing at a different level of maturity, or maybe he thinks he is, but Funny People, though it hit the spot, didn't hit it hard enough, and has caused me to type "but" quite a bit. Well done, but not the best done.

 - Eric T. Voigt, Beats

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