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Fred Laughs With Funny People

Published July 31, 2009 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Images property of Universal Pictures
Funny People Poster Funny People
People are already gunning for this one. After the hits Judd Apatow’s had, it’s his turn to be the scapegoat. It doesn’t seem to matter though. This is one for him. Funny People feels so personal, it’s not even as broad as the themes of pregnancy and virginity. It’s letting us into the world though, so it’s not too inside.

Review: Funny People

The film establishes a believable world of comedians, a sort of alternate reality to our own. The fake movies and posters for silly CGI comedies are an indictment of what makes people rich, pointing out the basic plot and moral of every Hollywood movie. It captures the joy of comedians goofing off together and there are different levels: The movie star, sitcom, stand-up and struggling.

It’s not Entourage so I understand a colder reception to Funny People. This is more like the real Hollywood, the comedy industry. It’s not fun babes and parties all the time.

Thematically, it’s profoundly inappropriate. There’s death, suicide, religion, yet it’s all truthful. Sad moments still have humor in them. People should relate to the theme of mortality, but they probably won’t want to deal with it. This movie is raw. It’s about relationships, not gimmicky situations. There’s nothing to fall back on.

Adam Sandler projects real gravitas, tired of his grind, getting up, reading scripts, even though he has a fabulous house with a pool. By a certain point he’s ultimately just plain miserable. It looks real. He’s not acting serious anymore, he’s being serious.

It’s funny the same way all the other Apatow movies are. Tangential non sequiturs flow and they are right on target. The dog and peanut butter joke is never not funny.

There are some predictable moments, but story is story. Sometimes the same things do have to happen to for the premise to be explored fully. If it’s good, you can use those elements. Yeah, I like stuff sometimes and then other times I don’t.

It’s really two stories, and the first one is better but both are good. I didn’t want it to end. Funny People sprawls better than recent Hollywood epics, just exploring character relationships. You could cut some parts to fit the two hour format, but nothing’s bad. Why not just watch all the good stuff? Sure, you get the point about playing with kids, but it’s still funny riffing and meaningful reflection.

Funny People would be the best comedy and drama of the year if it weren’t for (500) Days of Summer. Even if it weren’t that good, it would still be one of the best movies of this summer, but it’s actually good even without that qualifier.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Images property of Universal Pictures

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