Running Time: 146 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15
Country: United States
First off, lets get something clear I hate Adam Sandler with a passion and I have never sat through one of his movies without wanting to punch him. That was, until now. In Judd Apatows Funny People, Sandler actually comes across as a quite humorous and likeable scoundrel. The key here is that Apatow wrote this, not Sandler. Apatow knows a good story and shows once again that his characterisation is way deeper than any of Sandlers mindless childlike sociopaths, like Little Nicky and almost every one of his creations.
In Funny People, Sandler plays seasoned comedian George Simmons, a funny man with a back catalogue of awful films (why revert from type?), who finds out he has a terminal blood disease, with little chance of survival. As he sees out his final days on the comedy circuit, he takes on novice comedian Ira Wright (Rogen) as his all round personal assistant and comedy apprentice. They spend every waking hour together and soon George is won over by his friendly, ever-gurning assistant and they strike up a close friendship.
Placing comedians and the subject of death together makes this the ultimate tragi-comedy. It is done really well and manages to keep a smile on the viewers face almost throughout, whilst providing many thought provoking moments as they confront his dark past and bleak future. The nice angle about this film is that it is, as the title suggests, about funny people going about their normal if not slightly bizarre lives. Funny People tackles the issue of how comedians who spend their lives trying to make people laugh deal with the depressing situation of death. The clips of their stand up routines punctuate the story nicely and it is like we are getting a free bit of stand-up along with the movie.
The film is a bit overlong in the end and the Eric Bana love triangle seems a little tacked on. Some celebrity appearances hit the mark, like Eminem abusing Ray Romano, others are a little strained, Andy Dick for one. Overall, Apatows latest effort is a heart-warming and genuinely funny take on an original idea. However, its not quite enough for me to forgive Adam Sandler for his crimes against comedy.
It's Got: Deep characters, stand up comedy, good celebrity cameos
It Needs: To be shorter
Alternatives:About Schmidt, Knocked Up, Six Feet Under
A heart-warming comedy that does the impossible by successfully mixing death, comedy and Adam Sandler.