There are not enough words for “bad” in my vocabulary to describe Funny People, the latest raunchy, potty-humor flick from writer-director Judd Apatow. It was awful, vulgar, and rambling.
Funny People focuses on George Simmons (Adam Sandler), who has had a career a lot like Adam Sandler’s. After many movies, TV shows, and tons of nights doing stand-up, Simmons has a fortune, a garage full of expensive stuff, a mansion, and, incidentally, no friends or family. And he’s dying. Because he feels like there’s no one else he can talk to, Simmons hires a young, aspiring comedian, Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), as an assistant and to write jokes for him. Aside from George’s illness, complications arise when Ira’s friends, also actor/comedians (Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman), get jealous, when betrayals arise over jobs and girls, and when Simmons rekindles a friendship with his ex-fiancé, Laura (Leslie Mann).
Walking into the theater, I was aware that Funny People is a dramedy falsely-marketed as a comedy. I was aware that Judd Apatow’s work of late has been too crude for my taste. I was willing, however, to put these biases aside. I grew up on Adam Sandler’s work and was prepared to be entertained. With 45 minutes of the movie left, I wanted to walk out.
I like a good dark comedy. There’s something kind of guiltily satisfying about laughing at something because it’s really awful or absurd. Funny People flirts with dark comedy, but really it just takes the comedy of a well-loved comedian and puts it in the figure of a really unlikable character. There are moments when I rooted for George Simmons, but the character was so flat that he never felt like anything deeper than Adam Sandler acting like a petulant, grumpy man. I’m not sure who is to blame for this lack of development—Sandler or Apatow. It doesn’t help that from the start of the movie, Simmons’s character and career are built to look like Sandler’s. For the opening sequences and set dressings, videos and pictures from Adam Sandler’s early career are used. Sure, it was convenient and made sense to use Sandler’s early work to represent Simmons’s early work, but really it just established the character as Adam Sandler, not George Simmons. By the end of the movie, through disease and disaster, Simmons doesn’t seem to grow or change noticeably.
Along with the awful lead character, there are some bit parts and two good performances by Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann, but they both play their typical roles. However likeable they are, it’s too little to save the movie from Simmons. Probably the best actors in the whole production are Maude and Iris Apatow (daughters of Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann).
It’s possible to enjoy a movie even if you think the main character is poorly written. If the drama falls flat, there’s always the comedy to make a dramedy fun to watch. Funny People does have its funny moments, but it also has a lot of really cheap humor and a lot of really uncomfortable moments in-between the genuinely funny parts. The stand-up comedy is the best part of the whole movie. The soundtrack was also very good.
Perhaps if the movie had been 90 minutes long instead of 146 it would have been better. After about an hour, the plot starts to lose speed and ramble. I genuinely lost interest because neither the characters nor the story were compelling any longer.
My recommendation is to save your money and watch Comedy Central for an evening. If you really want to watch Funny People, rent it. If you’re going to rent Funny People, why not also rentFinding Forrester (2000). The movie, starring Sean Connery and Rob Brown (Coach Carter), tells the story of a surly and reclusive author (Connery) reluctantly taking a promising inner-city student (Brown) into his tutelage. It’s an inspiring tale full of the expected uplifting moments and challenges that come with urban teacher movies. Towards the beginning of Funny People, I thought it was going to be the Finding Forrester of comedy. It didn’t end up following through, but Finding Forrester is definitely worth renting or revisiting if you’ve already seen it.
Funny People is rated R (seriously) for language and crude sexual humor throughout, and some sexuality. **/5
- Community Harvest Food Bank Thanks Record Largest Volunteer Group - November 24, 2023
- Fantasy Of Lights Brings Back Favorites & Grows Again - November 24, 2023
- Bid On Holiday Wreaths To Support Community Improvement Cause - November 24, 2023