Release Date: July 31, 2009

/// August 5, 2009

by Josh Munson

“Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen star in a Drama/Comedy where Sandler plays a successful comedic actor who finds out he has a disease that will slowly kill him.”

Funny People has a documentary feel as it takes us, the audience, behind the curtain to see how the life of a stand-up comic really is. At the same time it tells the story of a famous comedic actor, George Simmons, who at the beginning of the movie finds out he has a short time to live. A disease has assaulted his body and is slowly killing him. He, however,  does not take to the news well. George does not have what doctors call a “support group” to call on or go to when someone is sick. He does not have any real friends at all and spends most of his time watching old tapes of his younger self on the many TVs that are placed in different rooms of his big Hollywood mansion.

As a way to cheer himself up, George gets back into doing stand-up at local comedy clubs. At a club in downtown Hollywood, George catches the set of an up and coming comic named Ira Wright, who turns out to be a very interesting character. He does not like his nine to five job at a local deli and he lives on a pull out sofa in an apartment with two other roommates, Leo and Mark. Leo is a struggling comedian like Ira and Mark is a sitcom actor. Suffice it to say, Ira wants better then this life. After his set George comments on Ira’s good material and asks him to come work for him as his writer and assistant.

On his first job with George, Ira finds that working for him comes with a lot of nice perks. Limos around town, private planes, beautiful women fans, and a nice huge place to live are just some of the things Ira witnesses while working for George. The only person George has told about his condition is Ira, who pleads with him to finally come out and tell the media about his condition. As part of letting people know of his condition, George calls up his ex-wife Laura. She was the one who got away. He goes to see her and finds out she is married with two girls to an obnoxious macho Aussie guy named Clarke. At this point in the review I am going to bite my tongue on the rest of the plot as to not give too much away. You will just have to go and see the movie to see how it ends, so to speak.

The first aspect of this movie I would like to comment on is the directing. This is the third movie from writer, producer, and director Judd Apatow. Judd’s last two movies were The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Where he went for more comedy then drama in those past movies, this time he focuses more on the drama then the comedy. I have always enjoyed his dialogue in his films and how he writes his various characters. Judd is slowly becoming the next John Hughes. He really shows the human side of his characters in his writing and gets the most out of the ensemble of actors that he casts in his movies.

The second aspect worth mentioning in Funny People is the cast.  This is one great cast that Apatow has put in this movie. First there is Adam Sandler, who is working for the first time with this director, but it does not show. This is the best performance Adam has done since his work in Punch Drunk Love. His take on the character of George is spot on, as if the character was based loosely on his real life. He acts through George’s different emotions really well showing depression, anger, sadness, and lighthearted happiness throughout the course of the movie as only Adam can. This movie shows a different side to actor Seth Rogen as well. Here we see a much thinner, dialed down actor with more dimensions then his past roles. Rogen was, it seems, always typecast into the role of the witless best friend or foul mouthed co-worker.  In this movie, however, he really comes into his own and finally shows his acting chops. Two more strong performances come from Leslie Mann and Eric Bana. Leslie, who is also the directors wife, gets to stretch her comedic and dramatic legs in this movie as a women still in love with one man and married to another. Eric Bana, who mostly has done dramatic movies, gets to flex his comedic muscles as the husband of Leslie’s character. He is very funny in this role playing a guy who just loves soccer, drinking beer, and fighting with people who make him upset. This definitely depicts him as the stereotypical Australian man.

Overall, I found this movie a little hard to follow. It does not have a real consistent pace with the scenes jumping from one thing to another without any transitions between them. Never having done stand-up comedy work in my life made it more difficult to understand. I think I would have enjoyed this film more if I had some first hand experience with the subject material.  If you are a fan of Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow movies, this film is for you. Go see Funny People if you want a good movie that has both funny and serious moments plus a great script performed by a terrific cast.

Cast & Credits

George: Adam Sandler

Ira: Seth Rogen

Laura: Leslie Mann

Leo: Jonah Hill

Mark: Jason Schwartzman

Clarke: Eric Bana

Universal Pictures presents a film written and directed by Judd Apatow. Running time: 146 minutes. Rated R (for language and crude sexual humor throughout, and some sexuality).