Funny People Review: Nice Film, Weak Comedy

August 26, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Film Reviews

FUNNY PEOPLE: On general release Friday 28th August 2009

There can be little doubt that the writers of the NeverEnding Story were under a great deal of pressure from day one due to the film’s title.

But unlike Judd Apatow, they didn’t have control over the title of their work.

In many ways the director of Funny People has placed a little extra pressure on himself, and although some might call his latest film an important side-step to the genre of comic-drama, it seems to have more in common with a comedy misstep.

40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up were not razor-sharp, but they had enough snugly clever banter to make them very and quite funny.

This movie malaise sees Hollywood’s new golden boy place more emphasis on mature themes such as mortality and deep-regret, while somehow managing to lower the comedy bar substantially – you would receive less penis humour if you commissioned a group of six-year-old boys to write a script.

Funny People revolves around George Simmons (Sandler), a wildly successful but self-absorbed and lonely comedian-slash-actor who has starred in a number of successful low-brow comedy films. As the film opens, he discovers that he has a rare form of leukemia and is given little chance of survival.

When he meets Ira Wright (Rogan), a young comedian dreaming of the big-time, a depressed George asks Ira to do some writing for an upcoming show, before hiring him as an assistant and eventually telling him and no-one else of his terminal condition.

Cue an inevitable emotional journey. There’s nothing wrong with that, but a short-cut would have been helpful – at nearly two-and-a-half hours, this film begins to drag somewhat.

To heighten the defining characteristic of mediocrity, a strong supporting cast featuring a chronically under-used Jonah Hill, struggles to deliver the laughs needed to propel a heavy storyline.

Although Apatow will suggest that he took his foot from the comedy-gas to move this film in a different direction, it’s a shame to see a witty formula so carelessly dismantled.

The film’s promoter called it an emotionally intelligent film – but I just wanted to laugh.

Sean Marland

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