Movie Reviews
Hahaha! These people are humorous.
Funny People Review

If The 40 Year Old Virgin was Apatow’s “coming of age” movie, and Knocked Up was his “getting married and having kids” movie, then Funny People has arrived to complete the trilogy with death and mortality being tackled as much as a comedy can. Not something one would expect from Apatow considering the immature nature of his previous films, but in many ways Funny People highlights a maturing of both his writing and his directorial style. Because of this, Funny People is his best movie, albeit not the funniest. Ironic considering the title and the nature of the movie. You’d think centering in on comedians would be inherently more humorous than losing your virginity or having a baby with someone you just met, but it’s not.

Don’t think it’s the issue of mortality being introduced that holds this movie back; if anything, that’s what makes Funny People stand out from its predecessors. The dialogue suffers the same limitations that Kevin Smith’s movies do: all the characters sound the same. All the comedians make the same jokes. Everyone has the same voice. It’s disappointing to watch a two hour movie with what amounts to the same character in thirty different bodies interacting with each other. While many of the supporting actors such as Jason Schwartzman, Aubrey Plaza, and Eric Bana made valiant efforts to make the characters their own, the problem was evident throughout. The exception to this is Adam Sandler who proves once again to be much more than a goofy comedian. His ability to go between comedy and drama so effortlessly reminds me of the likes of Bill Murray, Steve Marin, and Robbin Williams. In fact, I prefer the dramatic side of these actors more as it allows the comedy to be more subtle and controlled. Sandler’s performance was reminiscent to his role in Punch-Drunk Love; natural yet quirky.

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There is little doubt that Seth Rogen is a major force in comedy these days. He has become the go-to-guy for leading roles. Because of this, he seemed shadowed by Sandler. He fell into an awkward role as he was neither the main character nor was he the supporting character. Rogen and Sandler had great chemistry, but Rogen still felt out of place. Maybe it was because he was out matched by the veteran actor, but his performance seemed spastic and inconsistent. In one scene he would be natural and flaunt and in the next he would stick out like a sore thumb. In most of the dramatic scenes his main acting technique would be to scrunch his eyebrows and to look like he was doing algebra. As if he was taking a page from the George W. Bush handbook. Rogen isn’t exactly a character actor. His range goes as far as he is as a person. There’s little doubt in my mind that he will eventually become a more versatile actor, but I couldn’t help but wonder if someone like Schwartzman was more suited for this role.

Funny People opened this week with only $22 million in domestic box office revenue. Lower than Appatow and Sandler are use to. This could be attributed to the time of year it was released, but it’s no surprise considering the content. In the current economic climate “death” isn’t exactly a big ticket seller. When you look at The Hangover’s opening numbers, which was about double, it’s clear that people want unadulterated fun over a more analytical look at what death means to a comedian. From an entertainment stand point this might seem like a step back, but in reality this shows growth on the part of Judd Appatow as a director. He’s willing to tackle these issues and do it in a meaningful way. It’d be so easy to push out a never ending stream of comedies, but here Appatow shows we can have more than that. The movie does everything in its power to remain unpredictable in terms of story. Not in a “What a twist!” way, but in a fluent rhythm. It wasn’t until the movie ended that I realized that nothing that was suppose to happen in a typical “death” movie happened. Even the ending didn’t resolve all the characters’ issues in a nicely wrapped package. Instead Appatow admitted what few writer/directors dare to, “I dunno.”

Hahaha! These people are humorous.

The humor may be funny in a predictable way, but it’s still funny. It had the cameos, the pop-culture references, and the off-colored jokes; all staples of the genre. It wasn’t as funny as The Hangover, and yet, I’m more satisfied with having watched Funny People. It offered something that most mainstream comedies don’t: a hint of reality. The characters, the plots, all seem grounded. They may do somethings that are unconvintional, but then again who doesn’t? It may not have become an instant smash hit, but over time I predict it will become a fan favorite.

3 comments
Johnny
Johnny

For a movie called funny people it wasnt that funny.