Writer/Dir: Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin)
Cast: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Aubrey Plaza, Torsten Voges
Seen: November 21, 2009 on DVD
Reason to see: Looked pretty funny from the trailer
The first thing you should know about Funny People is that it's funny, but not always from the humour which is often told in stand up comedy fashion and relies heavily on dick jokes. The second thing you should know about Funny People is it isn't always funny, and that is okay because the obviousness of that is hidden in plain site with the title. It's about funny people, or rather people that are funny. And a lot of them are. Ironically Adam Sandler plays the most serious role here playing a long standing comedian whom gets a scary health wake up and this leaves the big comedy chops to Seth Rogen and his roommates played by Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman. A lot of the film centres on the concept of humour, coming up with jokes and the experience of life as a comedian.
As much as the film is funny, there is a huge weight of seriousness to it and the balance of the two is maintained it very well. I was surprized that Adam Sandler's character George, wasn't more likable as the big time comedian, but this serves to highlight the the isolation of fame and celebrity, giving it an interesting meta quality. Who is extremely likable is Seth Rogan's, Ira who seemed a genuninly nice person, and serves as a moral compass of the film, which works well but oddly feels reminiscence of a Morgan Freeman voice over in a documentary.
The people that really made me laugh were all in the smaller roles of the film, like the great performance by Aubrey Plaza is great as the 'across the street neighbour' who also does stand up. But the biggest surprize was one of the only non-comedian characters, Clarke, played but Eric Bana completely stole the show because he is freakin' hilarious as the Australian new husband to George's ex Laura played by Leslie Mann.
The huge chunk of the comedy is very crass and it's certainly not that gender balanced, but it's clear that the audience is going for the how-far-can-you-really-take-this with the jokes in particular. That aside, the heart of the film lies not quite in the comedy but the people, their lives and how they choose to live them.
DVD Extras include: Feature commentary with Judd Apatow, Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen, Unrated version (7 minutes longer than theatrical version), gag reel
Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll likely watch it again
I'd recommend it to comedy fans who can enjoy and/or can handle the 'guy' humour
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© Shannon Ridler, 2009