I don’t know how to write a review for this movie… It kept me embroiled with poignant acting, giving all the stars involved a sense of keen, sharp skill that was smart, hitting hard with a bullet. But at the same time, the long drawn out storyline kept the funny at bay, just to unleash it forth at subtle moments to bite you in the ankle, allowing you to remember you were watching a comedy.
Director Judd Apatow has put away his usual formula and has taken us in a whole new direction. Yes, there was raunch and filthy humor and dialogue, but the fun? Turned to darkness. Adam Sandler is George Simmons, an aging superstar/depressed playboy version of his real self. This is Sandler ditching his usual man-child character and delving deep into the acting proficiency we all forget he is capable of displaying i.e. PunchDrunkLove, to, I’m sorry haters, give maybe one of the first Oscar worthy performances this year. He is a sad and lonely star, coming to within an inch of his mortality when he finds out he is dying of a very rare leukemia.
Rogen, a down and going (Reversal of up and coming for the not so smart readers) standup comedian, during a moment of happenstance impresses Sandler who brings him on to write jokes for him. This turns out to be a sad sack assistant/nanny position for him, but it gives him work. His two roommates, the underused Jonah Hill and newcomer to the Apatow brood Jason Schwartzman play his always, one upping roommates. Both successful on their own, they don’t try to help out their boy, at all. And use Rogen almost as a comic relief to boost their own egocentric ego’s. While the banter is witty, gritty and often scandalously hilarious, the deli slinging Rogen, plays Ira like a put upon admitted loser, who doesn’t seem to mind and is in total acceptance of being just that.
So where are all the Funny People? This movie seems to turn comedy on its ear, and fuck the other ear to try something new. It seems that all the characters are more comfortable on stage then they are in real life, a graceful transition that lacks, well, grace. Leslie Mann as Laura, George’s “One That Got Away”, is neutered of all her comedic chops to play the 4th quarter love interest. Apatow and Mann’s real life children return to display their ability as well, can’t help but wonder if this is Mann pressuring her husband or the kids begging…And quick BTW, if the elder daughter in a scene singing “Memories” from CATS! was actually singing, look out American Idol. But to digress…
The film, which has strayed to other side of the stratosphere of Apatow’s formula, isn’t what the audience was expecting, and I for one think it was one of the best films of the year thus far. Other notable distractions from the formula change was the obvious flaunting of Apatow and Sandler’s roster of celeb friends, including a, you guessed it, unfunny cameo by Eminem. He does well dramatically though; just don’t expect the comedy he puts in his videos. To note one major scene stealer would be the incomparable Eric Bana, mentioned in “Knocked Up” for his role as badass Jew in “Munich”. The boys at the bar all agree “If any of us get laid tonight, it’s cuz of Eric Bana in fucken Munich!”
Who knew he had what it took to play with the big guns of comedy? The mixed review this film is receiving is for all of the reason’s I have explained, all these people expected “Superbad”, and got a more mature and seasoned Apatow. Don’t forget, in the beginning this was a drama, but turned into a comedy, said the cast in an interview. They stated they couldn’t all be together writing and write sad shit, and this is what they produced. This is a terrific film, if you can open your mind and not expect the same old shit. Again I will state, Sandler shows us once more that he can act, and with a sad, manic integrity that only someone with true talent could pull off in this forum.
Oh, and one of the gems of the film is the opening credits with actual footage of Sandler from either college or fucking around in his apartment with his buds. This is (I’m guessing) pre Billy Madison and possibly SNL. It got some of the hardest laughs. Funny People, in real life.
Regular comedy. B-, Apatow and Sandler’s growth? A