Funny People

Funny People

Starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, and Adam Sandler
Directed by Judd Apatow (Knocked Up)
Rated R for language and crude sexual humor throughout, and some sexuality
Appropriate for ages 18+

    When famous actor/comedian George Simmons (Sandler) discovers that he has a terminal illness, he takes a young comedian under his wing (Rogen).  As his condition worsens, he faces the harsh reality that he doesn’t really have any friends or anyone to love.  But as his condition improves, he must decide if the lessons he thought he had learned were really that important. 

    Upon hearing that Judd Apatow was going to make a film about comedy, I couldn’t wait to see what he was going to do with it.  Then I heard that he was bringing lymphoma into it and I had to do a double take.  How can you make that funny?  The answer is you can’t.  Even when visiting the doctor, and Sandler and Rogen are trying to joke with the European physician, there is such an air of discomfort that it is hard to laugh without a tear trying to make its way out.  The fact is, this film is very funny, but because of the gravity of both the illness and Simmons trying to deal with his wasted life, the laughs aren’t big, but rather more heartfelt and emotional. 

    Each of the performances here is really terrific, especially Sandler’s.  I didn’t think he could top Punch Drunk Love, and I’m still not certain he did, but he really knocks this one out of the park and Rogen comes in right behind him.  It was also great to see Leslie Mann get a chance to be in a less light-hearted role as well.

    As it happened with 40-Year-Old-Virgin and Knocked Up, as well as countless other hits he has produced over the last few years, the real star here is Apatow who seems to have put together an almost perfect combination of drama and comedy with a huge dose of reality.  It also helps that not only is his writing as strong as ever, but his directing and storytelling skills are maturing.    I’m sure we’ll see a lot more silliness coming from him in the future, but surprises like this are always welcome.

    The only weak links in the film are a couple of sequences involving Andy Dick, and then Eminem and Ray Romano that felt really out of place and should have been left out of the film entirely, and instead should have been positioned prominently on the DVD special features.  A-