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Too Much Funny Spoils the Comedy

  • SumoMe

Judd Apatow’s latest comedic baby, Funny People, is funny till it isn’t.

A review by Penny K

When I first saw the trailer for Funny People two months ago, I thought to myself, “Ah, finally an Adam Sandler show that looks like it’s worth watching.” By the way, I didn’t enjoy Click and didn’t bother watching You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.

Funny People is a story about a highly successful comedian and actor, George Simmons (Adam Sandler) who develops a rare form of leukemia. With his chances of survival slim, George makes the effort to reconcile with his family from which he has estranged himself by choice and his ex-lover whom he cheated on. He also hires Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) who is an aspiring stand-up comedian who dreams of quitting his day job at a deli as a joke writer and personal assistant.

Funny-PeopleThe question that came to mind as I sat in the theatre at 1.30am, three-quarter way into the film was: why am I bored? Then the next penis joke was thrown at the audience and instead of hitting my funny bone, it missed completely and headed straight for my brain giving me an epiphany. Funny People isn’t funny because it’s funny till it’s not anymore.

Yes, the show is about successful and aspiring standup comedians and their spaced out but funny flat mates, Mark (Jason Schwartzman) and Leo (Jonah Hill), but still, Apatow should have reined in the stand-up sequences and all those punch lines. Overkill is the word to describe the humour in Funny People. I can appreciate penis humour until it takes over the film completely.

The theme of the once-arrogant sick and dying man tries to make good with loved ones has been done to death, but done right, can win hearts everywhere. Where George rekindling his relationship with ex-fiancé Laura (Leslie Mann) should have been a subplot, it dominated a good part of the film. Apart from her squeaky voice, the circumstance and nature in which George and Laura reconnect is questionable – by now Laura is married to an Aussie, called Clarke (Eric Bana) and has two children. Was it Apatow’s push for Mann who is incidentally his wife in real life to assume more screen time? Even Laura’s two daughters are played by the fruit of the real life Apatow-Mann union.

Had Apatow not gone all nepotic on Funny People and focused more on the unconventionally sexless relationship between the successful comedian and his personal assistant, George and Ira, it would’ve been a lot funnier and interesting. For one thing, Seth Rogen is the best thing about the film; must be something about knowing how it feels to be fat and rejected that gives Rogen the kind of earnestness required to play a role like Ira as well as he did.

I enjoyed Funny People till about the hour-and-a-half mark, after that it was just another hour of time checking. In all fairness, this film is Apatow’s attempt to go down the road less travelled – Funny People narrates the pains of the clown, how trying to make people laugh is a lonely and self-doubting process. It had great potential, an interesting subject matter, but one too many penis jokes.

Thumbs: 3 out of 5
Oh: Too lengthy and too many penis jokes.
Fresh comedy storyline, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill.

Verbatim: Mark: “When my grandfather died, there was this one candle next to his bed and the candle started flickering. We all thought it was him going to heaven, you know?”
Leo: “You don’t pass through fire to get to heaven. I think he went to hell.”

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