A blog about movies and filmmaking.

You don’t pass through fire to get to heaven…

In comedy, drama on August 1, 2009 at 3:14 am

That’s for damn sure.

I’m kind of at a loss on how to approach talking about the latest movie from writer/director Judd Apatow, starring “super-star comedian” Adam  Sandler, FUNNY PEOPLE. The movie is quite an evolution from anything either one of them has done so far in their careers. Sure, there’s the dick and fart jokes that both have enjoyed and profited from – I wonder how much of that coalescence is from them being roommates in college (to which we actually see some video-footage of both of them, younger and uninhibited) – but there’s also so much more.

There’s the missing, high-concept idea behind Apatow’s previous movies – THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN (says it all, really) and KNOCKED UP (the fat ugly guy knocks up a thin hot chick, and they don’t get along! Get it!?)  – instead this is a grown-up movie about people growing up, while yes, still talking smack on each other. Also missing are any real resemblance to any of the roles that Sandler has played in the past. Yeah, there’s the stupid stuff from the roles his character – George Simmons – has played; and there is the emotion here like we’ve seen from Sandler in movies like REIGN OVER ME (one of the first movies I ever wrote about on here) and PUNCH DRUNK LOVE. But, in those movies, Sandler plays characters who, for lack of a better term, are mentally deficient in some way. In FUNNY PEOPLE, it’s  not hard to believe that he’s pretty much playing himself. Gone are the major histrionics, the powder-keg anger. In fact, I just realized what role this movie is most like, and that’s his character from the James Brooks movie SPANGLISH…Although, I’d say Simmons is a little less mature, than that movie’s John Clasky.

Along with that are the innumerable people that show up in this movie. There’s the supporting cast of Leslie Mann (Apatow’s wife, and their two daughters play the kids in the movie), Seth Rogen, Eric Bana (probably my favorite role of his after CHOPPER), Jason Schwartzman, Jonah Hill. Then there are the bit players that show up once or twice, get to throw a line or insult at someone and then vanish, like; Aziz Ansari, RZA, Paul Reiser, Dave Attell, Eminem, Ray Romano, Andy Dick and Charles Fleischer (who was awesome for his moment, and I have to mention was the creepiest part of ZODIAC, and the voice of Roger Rabbitt!), and really the list could go on almost infinitely and anyone that doesn’t appear in the movie gets a name drop (Paul Rudd, Tobey Maguire). It all seems a little strange, and kind of wedged in there, but then it occurred to me, if I were famous, these ARE the people I would see and talk to and joke with and name drop.

So, really this movie seems much more like it was made for the people making it. These are the guys who until only recently (aside from Sandler, really) have been in the position of Ira Wright (Rogen), who are on that cusp and almost rubbing elbows with these people. Taking that then, we are treated to some hilarious stand-up routines and bits catered around family dinner tables; and in the end none of the characters have changed so much as just grown up a little bit.

This includes still making dick and fart jokes.

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