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Funny People – Rating: C

Submitted by on August 5, 2009 – 6:36 AMNo Comment
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funny_people_posterAnother blockbuster summer means another Judd Apatow production. Besides resurrecting and creating stars out of today’s biggest comedians (Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and Seth Rogen), the director/producer/screenwriter has become a goldmine for the film industry. His first two directing attempts (The 40-Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up) set the mold for comedy blockbusters, grossing more than $100 million each.  Looking to embody the phrase “third times a charm,” Hollywood’s new comedy go-to-guy heads in a different direction with his latest film Funny People, creating a more candid and coming of age story that will humorously satisfy many, but not everyone.

Comedian George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is a superstar who receives the awful news that he might possibly be diagnosed with a fatal disease. Blunt to the T, here is a comedian who seeks no remorse or pity from his peers and underplays his life-threatening situation as if he’s indestructible. While life might seem to be in the dumps for one comedian, opportunity knocks for another. Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) has been waiting for his big break on the comedy scene and comes onboard to help write material for George. The two begin to develop a predictable bromance that flourishes once George is surprised with some great medical news—he’s going to live after all.

In celebrating his second chance at life, George throws a party at the Palms, where his celebrity acquaintances join him for some good times. With luck on his side, the high profile comedian takes a trip to Marin County, where he shares a gig with Ira and coincidentally runs into a familiar face, his ex-girlfriend Laura (Leslie Mann)—A former starlet who’s happily married with children. While coming to terms with reality, George manages to compose himself and strangely develops a bond with Laura’s two children and her explosive Aussie husband Clarke (Eric Bana).

Funny People is not the Judd Apatow film you’re expecting. Much of the same comedy elements are still present, but there are some blunders along the way, most notably the casting. You know a film lacks star power when the B-cast actors like Rogen and Hill are carrying more than a bulk of the film’s comedy. Sandler continues to show us why he can never be considered a great transitional actor—he continues to lack any real onscreen emotion. He manages to fold quicker than Superman on laundry day. Luckily the film is blessed with a number of memorable moments and cameos, including the big screen return of America’s favorite weirdo musician/rapper Eminem.

Funny People does an incredible job of showing the audience an exclusive V.I.P. look at the lifestyle of a successful comedian. Apatow exemplifies maturity both in his script and filmmaking capabilities, but sadly suffers from minor setbacks in the laughter department; taking on a more serious tone than the immature antics we ‘re already accustomed too seeing from his previous ventures. shelter-pale-aleAlso, we should talk about long-winded humor, because it doesn’t do a comedy any good when the film’s running time is about 45 minutes longer than the average slapstick comedy.  In the end, Apatow continues to do what he does best, and that’s draw good laughs.

Beer Pairing: The recommendation here is Dogfish Shelter Pale Ale. Why not have add laughter by sipping on a hilariously named beer?