Saturday, August 1, 2009

Review: Funny People

Grade: A-

Funny People is about the life of a comedian, so to speak. George Simmons is a very successful comedian and actor who has recently learned he has a deadly disease and normal treatments aren't working anymore, his doctor puts him on some experimental treatments but tells him his chances of success are slim and he might not have too much longer to live. George then decides to go back to the stand-up business. After crashing a stand-up club and bombing he decides he needs to hire someone to help him write new jokes. Ira Wright turns out to be just that person. Ira works at a deli but wants to be a stand-up comedian, he followed George at the comedy club and George liked his material enough that he wants Ira o help him. After successfully helping George with some gigs, George decides to hire Ira as a personal assistant. Then George's disease goes into remission and after an old flame enters his life he decides to reevaluate his life and figure out what's really important to him.

Funny people is Judd Apatow's (40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up) third shot at directing and it just might be his best yet. His first two movies he directed were straight up comedies with bits of drama and great stories, Funny People is really more of a drama about people who happen to be funny, or at least think they are. It is brilliant and beautiful. The story that Apatow wrote is very real, very deep and very good.

Adam Sandler (Bedtime Stories, Big Daddy) plays George Simmons and really does a great job. George's career is very similar to Sandler's including some weird and bad movies and they even used actual footage of Sandler's early days in the comedy clubs at one point. Sandler gives a great performance and proves that he can do more than his usual shtick. Seth Rogen (Zack and Miri Make A Porno, Knocked Up) plays Ira Wright, a man who wants to make it as a comedian but has a very hard time capturing the audience until Geroge helps him. This is Seth Rogen's best performance to date as well. He really does a wonderful job showing the different aspects of this character and also manages to be genuinely funny at times. Leslie Mann (Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin) plays Geroge Simmons old love interest Laura. Mann is wonderful and charming as always in Funny People. She delivers an amazing performance and is very moving at times as well. The movie also stars Jonah Hill (Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and Jason Schwartzman (Walk Hard, The Darjeeling Limited) as Ira's roommates and fellow comedians. They do a great job at portraying people who aren't that funny but really think they are. Apatow and Mann's daughters Aubrey and Maude so a great job playing Laura's daughters. Eric Bana (Troy, Hulk) does a great job as Laura's husband. The movie is also loaded with cameos from great stand-up comedians including Paul Reiser, Ray Romano, Andy Dick, Mark Schiff, Norm MacDonald, Dave Attell and Sarah Silverman. It also includes hilarious cameos from James Taylor and Marshall Mathers aka Eminem (in a performance that I think accurately depicts how he is in real life).

This movie is extremely well written and has a great story. As a fair warning do not expect a straight up comedy from Funny People, it is a drama that centers around people who happen to be funny. It is a wonderful movie and I highly recommend everybody go out and see it if you can.
Great quote: "Is your set designed to guarantee you don't get laid?"

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