Whatever you may have heard about this film, take it with a grain of salt and view this movie with an open mind. Funny People is anything you could want and more. Judd Apatow has created a wonderful film, which I believe is his best yet. This is Apatow’s third written and directed film after The 40-Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up. The Apatow bunch have definitely proved that they are more than just a bunch of chummy guys who make fart jokes and smoke pot. Apatow has put together a very moving, hilarious, and well written film.
George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is an aging and grumpy comedian, alone in life, with his gigantic mansion with nothing but his celebrity status to keep him trucking along through life. He comes to terms with life when he discovers that he has a terminal illness that may be treatable with time, but only has a certain percent chance of working. As he deals with this life awakening moment, Simmons begins to reflect back on his past and the people he has encountered.
Enter Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), a struggling comedian at the bottom of the improv food chain trying to make a name for himself while working part-time at a grocery deli. Ira lives with his friend Leo Koenig (Jonah Hill), a fellow comedian who is more successful, and Mark Taylor Jackson (Jason Schwartzman), a snob who loves rubbing it in both of their faces that the lead in a comedic television show. Ira struggles with his confidence feeling like he needs something to enter his life to give him the break he needs with love and his career.
As George continues on his path of reconnecting to the life, he revisits an old comedy club to perform. It just so happens that Ira and Leo were there that same night and in a fortunate case of events, George offers Ira a chance to write jokes for him and Leo too, but that information is withheld from Leo. There are a series of great montages of hilarious stand-up that goes on through this new partnership that you can’t leave your seat for. There is a lot of sexual oriented adult humor that, to some, may be tear inducing.
Ira takes this grand opportunity to become George’s assistant as he goes on trips with him learning how to become a better comedian while also learning what the life of a successful comedian is like. Throughout this time spent with Ira, George finds it in himself to grow as a person and actually befriend Ira, one of Simmons’ only friends that he actually opens up to. This connection throughout the film has great buddy chemistry, their jokes and learning experiences are great to watch to where you can easily relate to the characters. You can definitely feel for Ira as he struggles to nab the girl next door who is also a comedian and at the same time George, who is trying to reconnect with the lost love of his life, Laura (Leslie Mann), who he hasn’t spoken to in years.
This is not as spoiler as it is stated within the trailer: somewhere around the middle of this long film, George finds out that his illness has passed and the drugs have worked; he has been given a second chance. This may be a stereotypical second chance film, but go along with it as it doesn’t quite play out as you may think. With a somewhat new outlook on life, George sets out to win back Laura. The problem is that she is married to a man named Clarke (Eric Bana) and has two children (played by Judd and Leslie’s actual children, Maude and Iris Apatow).
This third act feels completely different than the rest of the movie. This drawn out act is the one that may lose viewers as it puts everything on halt to deal with this one big issue of George disrupting this family. Don’t let this bring your mood for the film down. Although it seems to slow the film down, everything still works out to be enjoyable to watch. It is more heart felt than Apatow’s past work as characters are faced with harder decisions that ultimately could ruin or change their lives.
Funny People is an all around great piece of work. The comedy is at a new level with great performances. Lots of the stand up was in front of live audiences with real crowd reactions as they filmed it, which is pretty impressive. The character development and story is well written through and through. The big problem is that the film is just really long for a buddy comedy turned romantic comedy in the end. The only real grudge I could claim to make about this film is that some loose ends seem left untied and there could have been more closure in the end. Other than that, this film has some outrageous comedy, it can be subtle, it can be in your face, it can be crude, it can be dark, but this is one that you cannot miss.