james debate
james debate

Tuesday 1 September 2009

Directed by Judd Apatow
Written by Judd Apatow
Starring Seth Rogen, Adam Sandler, Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill
Release date(s) Out Now
Running time 136 minutes

Seth Rogen plays a struggling young comedian who meets his idol, a well known comedian played who has been diagnosed with a terminal case of leukemia, played by Adam Sandler.

funny people

In recent years, Judd Apatow has become the hottest thing in comedy. Hit movies such as Knocked Up and the underrated Superbad have made him the go to guy for the biggest and best comedy stars.

Now he's back with his new movie Funny People, which continues his proud tradition of coming up with really bad titles for decent films. And that's exactly what this film is, decent, without fulfilling its potential. Allow me to elaborate.

Now at first I was very hesitant going to see this movie. First of all the trailer looks awful, it makes the film out to be some crappy formulaic comedy. This is not a new phenomenon in Hollywood. The sad thing is that there are more idiots in the world than smart people, a lot more, and there are numerous films and tv shows that have trailers that have clearly been dumbed down to the lowest common denominator, despite the film actually being half decent. Sad, but true.

The fact that this stars Adam Sandler of all people doesn't do much to allay my fears. He's the type of actor I loved back when I was 13 or so and Happy Gilmore was comedy gold to me (actually it's still kinda funny), but frankly he is just not good, and not especially funny for someone who's past his teen years.

But man was I in for a surprise. Not only is Sandler good, he is very good. He plays a famous comedian who is diagnosed with Leukemia, and serves as a parable of how lonely it can be at the top. It's all very well written stuff and seems to be a perfect fit for Sandler.

He is ably joined by co-star Seth Rogen, now firmly right at the top of the comedy A-list. Seth Rogen plays a struggling comedian who meets his idol and is offered a job. Rogen plays the same type of relatable nice guy that he has done in pretty much all his films, and though it is a part that he plays well, one can't help but think it would be nice to see him do something a bit different for a change. I guess an overweight Jewish guy with curly hair can't really do much more. And I should know, I used to be one!

In the end though, people go to a comedy to be entertained. And while this movie is funny, it's not the same kind of brainless humor one has come to expect from Apatow's films. This is much smarter, and for the first half of the film you're sure that you're in for something a bit special, a bit different. One suspects that maybe this is Apatow reaching maturity.

Unfortunately he sort of loses the plot towards the end of the film where the story devolves into far more clich├ęd stuff; the traditional chasing of a loved one at the airport, the brawl outside the party, suddenly we're in very familiar territory. That's not to say that it's bad, it's just that a film that looked for a while like it was on its way towards being a classic ends up being a more typical crowd pleasing comedy, and it's a shame.

Nevertheless, make no mistake that this is a cut above most films of the genre. It is regrettable that most people who might actually be looking for a more cerebral laugh will be put off by the shamelessly dumbed down marketing put forward by the studio, and as such this film is likely to remain underrated for the most part. But for those of you who do go to see it, you will find one of the better comedies of the year so far, and just a half hour short of being one of the better comedies in a longer while.

For anyone going to this film expecting a Superbad or 40 Year Old Virgin laugh out loud, but fairly broad comedy, you will go home disappointed. This is, for the most part, much smarter stuff from Apatow with a very toned down Sandler giving the acting performance of his life.

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