Director: Judd Apatow Release Date: 28/08/09 Link: IMDB Review by Martin Higgins If you’re anything like me, I hope for your sake that you’re not, you might see a poster for a film called Funny People featuring the smug face of Adam Sandler and think ‘No. No, you’re not a funny person. Just stop’. I’m not a fan, I think it’s fair to say. I don’t mind Happy Gilmore, Punch Drunk Love had its moments, and I enjoyed Jack Nicholson’s performance in Anger Management, but other than that Sandler’s movies do not interest me. I do, however, enjoy the films that Judd Apatow makes and so this being the third film written and directed by him, I went along for a look. Sandler plays George Simmons, an extremely successful stand up comedian who now makes his money from starring in atrocious family friendly comedies similar to the ones that Eddie Murphy appears in every bloody year without fail. George is told at the beginning of the film that he is dying from a rare blood disease and after some soulful staring at old footage of himself and crying, he decides to make a surprise appearance at a small comedy club where he meets Ira Wright. Ira, played by Apatow regular Seth Rogen, is also a stand up but on the opposite end of the fame spectrum. He is struggling to make his name on the local circuit whilst also working at a deli with none other than RZA from the Wu Tang Clan. After an odd, distracted performance on stage, George is followed by Ira who scores some laughs from mocking him. George asks Ira to write some material for him and to also act as a personal assistant/nurse to him in his dying days. The first part of the film follows their relationship growing as George shows Ira a taste of his lifestyle and Ira provides George with companionship and new edgy jokes about the internet. This part is ok, partly because it features scene stealing performances from Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman as Ira’s housemates Leo and Mark, but mainly because it’s not the incredibly boring second part. In this section, George attempts to reclaim his lost love, ‘the one that got away’, Laura played by Apatow’s wife Leslie Mann simpers her way through the film with serious ‘eye widening’ skills. Laura is now married with children to Clarke, played by Eric Bana, in a rare comic performance ( Bana actually started his career as a stand up comedian before his big break in 2000’s Chopper KS. It was somewhere around this point in the plot that I realized how little I cared about the characters, and that’s one of the major problems with this film. Whilst Sandler plays George as the arsehole we all know he probably actually is himself, I expected to like Rogen’s character and to sympathize with him as he is emotionally thrown around by the selfish, cold superstar but I really didn’t. His bumbling, oafish lovable loser act has gotten old and so I found it difficult to stay interested in his side of the story. All in all, the whole tone of the film seems off. It tackles the serious issues of death, infidelity, divorce and legacy but also features an inordinate amount of shoddy ‘penis’ jokes and three SERIOUSLY cheesy, ultra smug moments: George sings Real Love by The Beatles in his home studio, George and Ira perform at a MySpace company do with James Taylor (the website’s creator ‘Tom’ also makes a sick-inducing appearance), and in one scene we are ‘treated’ to a series of cameos from such comedy stars as Sarah Silverman, Ray Romano, and of course Eminem. These scenes take you away from the story and seem to serve only to promote a flagging social networking site, showcase Sandler’s lamentable music skills, and prove to us once and for all that Eminem cannot act. Comedic dramas are nothing new but they are very tricky to pull off without losing effect in one of the areas. I got the feeling this is Judd Apatow’s attempt at a real grown up credible film, a Woody Allen-esque story of the serious side to comedians, the tears of the clown etc. Instead he has produced an overlong (almost 2 and a half hours!), boring, and crucially, unfunny movie about a group of self centered, irritating people. That would not be as catchy a title I admit, but it would sadly be more apt.