Funny People is Judd Apatow’s most profound and funniest work to date. Most films are inept of achieving this level of emotional and comedic grandeur. It strikes perfectly on every dramatic and comedic beat possible. Apatow has previously delivered two excellent films that were of course hilarious, but never contained this level of dramatic investment.
George is a highly successful comedian and movie star who has just learned that he has an untreatable blood disorder and doesn’t have much time left to live. Ira is an aspiring stand up comedian who works at a deli and has not yet found much success. George one night decides to return to do a night of standup where he first meets Ira. After Ira makes an impression on him, George hires him to be his joke writer and in some ways his friend. George soon starts to grasp his short comings in life and wants to reconcile. He wants to treat every day as if its his last and the main goal on his mind is to find the one who got away, his old sweetheart Laura. Soon after they encounter each other on good terms, George finds out that he is no longer sick. After discovering this he wants to make a new life for himself with Laura in it, who is also currently married.
The story is filled with profound themes of morality and love. The interplay between Ira and George represents how truly important friendship is. George feels lonely and when Ira is around his attitude and outlook on life changes. It’s a believable and genuine friendship that causes this message to work fluidly. Laura represents regret and how fast things go in life. George feels remorse for missing out on one of the best things that ever happened to him. The film is more so focused on George’s journey, but it also gives Ira plenty to do. Ira is a key to the story since he makes George changed. He’s apart of this trip of helping him over come his obstacles and burdens, which is another underlying message of the power of friendship. The third act is where the story changes up where George and Laura’s relationship becomes the center of attention. It may have felt a little abrupt, but its hard to call it a fault due to the fact that their relationship works. They both feel hurt and unsatisfied with the way their lives turned out, another moral of the story.
Another lovable highlight of the film is the tremendous performances. Adam Sandler delivers his best performance since his wonderful tonal turn in Punch Drunk Love. Sandler plays George as a sad and lonely individual who has to come to terms with all of his short comings. Seth Rogen delivers his usual fantastic shtick and it of course works as it usually does. Another reason why Rogen is so successful in the role is due to the fact he’s playing a character who contains a hefty amount of depth. He is able to show Sandler’s character why life is important and even he comes to similar realizations. Leslie Mann also delivers a fantastic performance as Laura. Her character is a perfect parallel to George, they both feel lost and saddened by their choices in life. Mann isn’t just good because of her looks and likableness, she crafts another heartfelt character a long with Sandler. As expected the side character work from Jonah Hill, Jason Scwartzman, and even Eric Bana is hilariously terrific.
Comedic genius Judd Apatow is at his best here and he delivers his most admirable work to date. While 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up were very good films, this on a whole new level tonally. While this review paints the film as a total drama, it isn’t. His comical routine is still here and still remains as fresh as ever. The film is filled with countless quotable one liners that earn gut busting laughs. Funny People also features Apatow’s most profound and best script yet. He delves into important themes of death and love, and they all contain emotional impact. It’s easy for the audience to relate to these characters he’s crafted because he’s painted them as genuine people who are sympathetic. Never before has his writing been filled with such richness.
The main complaint this film will receive from most people is about the running time which is almost around two and a half hours. Ultimately, a film with such fantastic characters that delves into the broader themes of life calls for a running time of this magnitude. This is an excellent film that also features both Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow at their best.
9 out of 10
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