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Starring:Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman

Director:Judd Apatow

Writer:Judd Apatow

Cinematographer:Janusz Kaminski

Original Score:Michael Andrews, Jason Schwartzman

Running Time:146 Mins.

Judd Apatow is one hell of a clever guy, and yes talented to boot, but he has had the odd mis-step on his road to being Hollywood’s king of comedy, Drillbit Taylor was undeniably weak, Year One was a car crash of a film especially given the talent involved, and last Summer’s Pineapple Express mistook actors messing about and pretending? to be high as a concept for a film. One thing these film’s all have in common is that they were all simply produced by Apatow and to be fair his good films far outweigh the bad, with directorial efforts Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin proving classics in the genre. Which brings me to Apatow’s third film at the helm, Funny People, and where does this sit you may ask…

For a start there is no overlooking that Funny People share’s his past two film’s achilles heel, the inability to edit to a respectable length for a comedy. This isn’t to say a comedycannot have the substance to sustain two and a half hours of screen time just that the stories Apatow chooses to tell needn’t sustain this amount of screen time and feel over long and self-indulgent for it. This is a problem that could be easily over looked in 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up but here it is a little more difficult for two reasons, firstly it simply isn’t as funny as it needs to be (or as the title promises!) and two it drags for long sections where it realty needs to pick up the pace and move on. Something not helped by a sudden shift in narrative from one story to another.

Meaning Funny People is in essence two films, one is about terminal illness and the prospect of death and the other is a rom-com tacked on for another hours worth of screen time. No prizes for guessing which is the stronger part! Adam Sandler is pretty unlikeable here adn as star he gets most of the screen time, yes he is at his best and it’s fun to see him poke fun at his sell-out films but when he is being funny, he really isn’t funny enough, which makes me think a few prat falls in this instance would have gone a long way. This means that the funny is left to Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman, which is pretty messed up as they are probably the sections of the film that should have been cut to streamline the narrative.

This means that when the film gives way to its second half/rom-com you yearn for more Eric Bana (who makes a late in the day appearance) displaying some of those stand up roots he has. This coupled with Schwartzman and Hill means that it is the support acts steal the film from under Sandler’s nose. As you will likely have noticed I have yet to mention the ubiquitous Seth Rogen, and that is because on this occasion he is oddly toned down and displayed a talent for refrained acting not before seen from him. Standing largely on the sidelines and acting as friend for hire/joke writer/personal assistant for Sandler following being spotted doing a stand up routine, he has very few laughs in the film but really beats as the heart and soul.

I mention the stand up sequences only briefly because they really don’t stick out as being nearly as funny as they needed to be, were these actually big laughs there would be no call for the padded out support, as it is they consist largely of dick jokes, funny for a while? yes. But they wear thin all too soon and when there seems to be one per minute you can’t help but yearn for something slightly cleverer. Which means a film that should have been Apatow’s best and has all the elements to have been his best suffers at being his weakest lacking a solid narrative pull or the big laughs we have come to expect from the Apatow stable, especially with the man at the helm.

Hopefully next time someone will reign him in in the editing room as there is a solid 90 minute film to be found here, even if its not up to scratch though to be fair a weak Apatow comedy and one that dares to tackle a serious topic deserves some kudos and is still substantially better than most of its competition

VERDICT

A great disappointment, not nearly as funny as it should have been and lacking solid direction, Funny People meanders from one story to another two thirds of the way in, over-long and unfunny tarnishing that Apatow magic a touch.

grade-c-

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