FUNNY PEOPLE Is Only Funny In That It Isn't

A source of mine recently attended a screening of Funny People and sent me the following appraisal. Since I don’t intend to see this movie, I’m posting my source’s assessment but with this caveat: While he said it looked and sounded finished, with titles and music in place, there’s still a possibility this is NOT the final version to be released July 31.


I am not a fan of Adam Sandler or Seth Rogen, but I am a Judd Apatow fan. The trailer for this film actually made me laugh out loud enough to check out a screening. Now I want my time back.

It starts out all right. We see George Simmons (Adam Sandler) being recognized and amiably posing with a number of fans while on his way to see his doctor. He mugs, he cajoles, he’s the hilarious nice guy and uber-comedian. He’s like Jim Carrey, Chris Rock, Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais and, well, Adam Sandler all rolled into one. Then we see him getting the bad news that he has an incurable disease.

a sandler and srDevastated and devoid of any true friends he can talk to, he seeks out the group hug he knows he can only get from a live audience. So he heads back to his roots in stand-up comedy for that feeling of adoration and comfort. Enter Ira Wright (Seth Rogen).

Ira is a down-on-his-luck, unfunny comedian dreaming of a better life and trying desperately to come up with better material. George, remembering what life was like before he made it big, decides to give Ira a shot at the big time by hiring him to write a few jokes for an upcoming MySpace gig. Thus, George gets to do something good and just might make a much needed friend in the process.

The story gets mired in multiple plotlines that do nothing to move it forward. It’s like one big improv, but someone forgot to set the ground rules to give it shape and direction. Could it be Apatow was overwhelmed by his cast?

lm & asAnd it’s a great cast. Not only do Apatow regulars Jonah Hill, Leslie Mann and Jason Schwartzman appear, so do James Taylor, Ray Romano, Norm MacDonald and Sarah Silverman, just to name a few. Eminem also shows up to do a rant that might now be familiar to those who saw him straddled by Brüno at the MTV Movie Awards. It has nothing to do with the film’s storyline and is just one of many moments where the movie loses focus.

I think the problem is there’s too much talent and not enough plot to go around. I shuddered while viewing the end credits, seeing names of all the people who must’ve been cut out of this movie. Don’t know if they’re going to be reinserted but I’m feeling it might be better to wait for the DVD, which must have a goldmine of extended scenes and outtakes.



  • Reply
    July 16, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Sounds like your source saw the screening I did. Everything he mentions is still in the film. The
    Eminem rant could have been really funny, but it appears Apatow wasn’t on set that day. As a matter of fact, it feels like Sandler put Apatow’s name on as director just to broaden his audience. Funny bits, but nothing more than a usually disjointed SNL episode. I laughed a few times, but forgot most of it on the way out of the theater.

    Ardent Adam Sandler fans will like it.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Well, I’ve liked all of Sandler’s films. I usually go after a few drinks and laugh my ass off.

    Can’t wait….

  • Reply
    July 17, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Netflix… maybe.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2009 at 3:46 am

    I was sooo bummed I couldn’t score a seat to this screening the other night, and now that I hear how lousy the movie is…I don’t feel nearly as bad.

    The L.A. Times’ Patrick Goldstein had a great column about this movie a few weeks back where he gave Apatow shit for equating running time with seriousness. I’m totally paraphrasing, but he was like, long movies aren’t better dude, they’re just longer. You don’t need to get all epic to make a good dramedy!

    And, personally, I think that if you’re aiming to make your first “James L. Brooks” movie (as Apatow has declared a few times recently) you should aim for “Terms of Endearment” and not “Spanglish”. Yikes…

    • Reply
      Jay Beezy
      July 20, 2009 at 5:42 am

      This is just the opinion of one viewer. I’ve read more comments around the web saying that people liked it.

      • Reply
        July 20, 2009 at 7:19 am

        Hi Jay,

        Most views on this blog are the opinions of one person—me, mainly—unless I’m posting poll results.

    • Reply
      July 20, 2009 at 7:06 am

      Well, I’m glad you’re feeling a little better about not getting into the screening, yeti9000.

      I don’t have any intention of seeing it; the trailer was so underwhelming. If Apatow was truly aiming for Brooksian heights, he might have considered casting leads other than Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen. I mean, Terms of Endearment had Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger and Jack Nicholson. And I agree that more length doesn’t necessarily equal better or more serious. More tedious, maybe.

  • Reply
    July 20, 2009 at 3:48 am

    Oh, and by the way, I kinda liked most of “Spanglish”…but, I’m sure even Mr. Brooks would agree that it was no “Broadcast News” or “Terms of Endearment”! 🙂

    • Reply
      July 20, 2009 at 7:10 am

      I liked Spanglish, too! Not sure why it was excoriated by critics.

      It’s definitely not in the same category as Terms of Endearment and Broadcast News, though. I own both those movies and they still hold up under repeated viewings.

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