Lara’s Review of Funny People

10 Aug

I love Judd Apatow. From Freaks and Geeks to Knocked Up, I will devote myself to and continually re-watch anything he touches. I’ve watched commentaries on his movies anywhere from 2-5 times. I’ve spent hours pouring over the behind-the-scenes features to see whether he’s in awkward, scruffy-beard-face or the even more awkward, not-scruffy-beard-face. I look up late-night interviews with him on youtube and I know he will always say something about his wife’s general dislike of him– and I like that. Have I beaten the point in enough? I love Judd Apatow. We had a really good thing going.

All that said, I hope to someday be forgiven for the following statement:
Funny People; not so funny.
The shortage of funniness was not solely due to the fact that the film is a dramady. Going into the film I knew that it was going to have serious elements and I had mentally prepared myself for some tears. Tears which never came, by the way. No, I mean that it simply was not very funny. I will break this down now to give a clear view of my thoughts as to why I was not fully pleased with this movie:

1. Not enough realistic, crude dialogue. In my opinion the best Apatow scenes are the ones in which he leaves the camera running and lets the guys talk about anything they want to. Perfect illustrations of this are the “You know how I know you’re gay” scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and the Munich discussion in Knocked Up. These types of scenes make my dirty-minded world go round. I feel that the closest the dialogue in Funny People came to said moments were the scenes in which the comedians made jokes for upcoming stand-up performances. While there was a good amount of the crude jokes I thrive on and bit of banter in these moments, they seemed much more scripted. One comedian presents a joke to the other, the other comedian gives advice and makes another joke off of it. Not quite the same essence as Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen drunkenly quoting Back to the Future. I miss Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen drunkenly quoting Back to the Future. This movie needed Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen drunkenly quoting Back to the Future.

2. I never really cared about any of the characters. Adam Sandler’s George Simmons started out as pathetic then moved to slightly endearing then to obnoxious then to unforgivably dickish, all the while having the undertones of being an all around jerk. I really did not feel the desire to root for him at any point. I really liked Leslie Mann’s Laura when she was first introduced, finding her to be charming and adorable. Towards the end of the film, however, I found her to be more akin to slightly insane. Then there was Seth Rogen’s Ira Wright. I liked Ira. I could see myself being friends with him. Besides, perhaps, his fan drool; at which I can not point a finger without being very hypocritical, my only problem with Ira is that there wasn’t enough of him. He was in most of the movie, I guess, but I still didn’t ever get to know him like I know Ben Stone. This is true of all of the characters. Even though the movie attempts to present more depth, none of the characters were very deep.

—-Here I will change the list slightly and stop comparing this Apatow movie to other Apatow movies. These are the other, less significant problems I had with the film. —-

3. Too many shlong jokes. Now don’t get me wrong: I am all about penis jokes. However, I like my penis jokes shocking or highly witty. The bulk of the penis humor in this film was, unfortunately, very obvious and shock-free. George Simmons constantly referencing his own small member and asking Ira the size of his was reminiscent of a PG-13 comedy aimed at teens who go to the theater hoping for a scene where a dog humps __________ (enter object here).

4. Too many cameos. That pretty much sums up that. I felt as though a lot of the comedy relied on the appearance of famous comedians. And a rapper who must not be named.

5. The second act goes on far too long. Or, maybe, the first act is what dragged on. Without giving anything away, when Ira and George drive up north to do a show there is a palpable shift in the movie. The mood shifts from comedic-with-some-drama to dramatic-with-some-comedy and the two are placed together awkwardly. And once the movie gets to this slightly uncomfortable mood it keeps going. What I thought was going to be the climax with about twenty minutes left in the movie before the conclusion was an climax that lasted almost an hour. I would expect the sort of lengthiness in a director’s cut, but definitely not in the theatrical version.

Phew. Done complaining. That took a lot out of me. It’s very hard for me to do this to Judd. But I feel like it’s okay to say all of that because, believe it or not, I actually liked the movie. Sure it had some problems, but that is expected from a director who is trying to do something completely different from his other work. I’m sure for Judd it was hard to know how ridiculous to let the comedy be and how serious to make the drama, as well as how to balance both elements. AND there were funny parts. I cracked up at several points during the movie. I loved Raaaaaaandy’s (with seven A’s) generic stand up. I loved Leo’s disgust at “Yo, Teach.” I nearly cried laughing at the many Die Hard references. It was a funny movie. It was a sad movie. I commend Judd for his attempts to do something new and will continue to watch his films if this is the path he chooses to follow. Though I would more happily follow his path via 2007.

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2 Responses to “Lara’s Review of Funny People”

  1. Charlie Bucket August 12, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    say, you make some very strong points. and I’m glad you didn’t like this movie. because it’s looks awfully bad. you should be a movie critique, you’re so good at writing the do’s and don’ts and the goods and bads. I like you.

  2. Layla August 19, 2009 at 2:38 pm #

    i agree Lara, good points. i also agree with charlie bucket you are a very talented writer, though we have always known that.

    your site is awesome i am so impressed by you and will continue to check your blogs for cinematic advice. i love you girl and i am glad that you set up this blog so that i can get my lara fix whenever i need it.

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