Funny People suffers from a number of problems, but the biggest one is probably the advertising it had. People expected to see another Judd Apatow film ala Knocked Up of 40-Year Old Virgin. That isn’t what Funny People is. Yes that same humor is here, but this was an attempt by Apatow to try something different and I think that a lot of people don’t give it enough credit.
George Simmons is pretty much Adam Sandler in a lot of ways or at least Sandler now. A former stand-up and kid who screwed around doing funny shit and now is doing movies that really look pretty corny and seem family oriented. There are other comedians that you could put there as well (Eddie Murphy), so it’s not like that character doesn’t exist in at least some form. Simmons however finds out that he is sick and he tries to cope with that. He doesn’t really try to do a big comeback, he just kinda starts screwing around a bit more. Anyways, Ira (Seth Rogen) is struggling comic who ends up getting to hired to write jokes/becomes Simmons assistant and together they try to sort through Simmons dealing with this possibly mortal illness. That’s only the first part of the movie, which is part of the films problem. That alone is a fine premise for a movie.
What ends up happening is that ~spoiler~~~~~~
Simmons lives. I know right? That’s not the kicker though. We find out that he’s “okay” with maybe like forty some minutes left if not more. To me the movie should have ended there. He’s better and that’s all we need. What followed was just added crap that didn’t work. I mean the whole thing with Laura was something for another movie.
And while that’s probably most people’s complaint, that it just rain to long there, I’m questioning whose the main character really. Is it Ira or Simmons? Simmons seems to be the right response, but I don’t that the distinction between Ira and Simmons is made clear enough because we spend a lot of time with Ira doing shit alone that isn’t really connected to Simmons. It’s not necessarily a problem, but when the movie already has too much going on story wise, it just adds more crap to the mix that made things seem to drag.
Really that’s my complaint with the film. It’s just the story. Apatow tried to accomplish too much. I liked what he tried, but he just stretched himself out too far. I mean the initial premise is great: funny people aren’t necessarily the happiest people alive. If you listen to any stand ups talk about themselves the general consensus is that they are quasi miserable. It’s the whole “you can’t be funny if your happy” line. The movie sort of tries to delve into that by focusing on the characters lives outside of their “jobs.” Again there’s just too much crap that ends up going on in the film. The structure wasn’t really that clear and the “romantic” sub-plots were kind of awkwardly placed. It detracts what the movie was trying to focus on initially.
It is a funny film though. I’m not sure why people are so thrilled to say “Funny People wasn’t funny.” It was. I mean the scenes where they do stand up is good and there’s a lot of good banter between the characters. There’s also a lot of good critiquing of stuff. The movies Simmons is in and the show “Yo Teach,” among other things. The depth of the movie isn’t entirely bad. I mean Simmons first stand up bit is great. It’s not necessarily laugh out loud funny, but it is definitely a bit that gets you thinking.I think what put people off was that the film does get a bit darker and serious at times. It’s sort of a quasi comedy-drama. The ending is also not as funny. The movie gets pretty serious which helps it seem longer. The sudden lack of numerous jokes makes you notice that you’re still watching the movie.
It’s still a good movie. It’s not great, but at least Apatow took some risks. The movie could probably be easily be recut and it would work better. I think everything is already there that you need, it just needs trimmed and restructured.
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