Monday, August 3, 2009

Apatow's 'People' only occassionally funny

Funny People
Two stars

By Thomas Tracy

We don’t know why, but movies about the world of stand-up comedy are inherently not funny. For the most part the latest film from Judd Apatow — the baron of “bromance” — follows suit, despite the deceptive title “Funny People.”

That’s not to say that there isn’t a chuckle or two in this trudging two-and a-half hour epic about the personal lives of stand up comedians in Los Angeles. There are a few, thanks mostly to Adam Sandler, who takes a turn — and succeeds at points — as a serious dramatic actor by filling a role he knows everything about: himself.

Sandler leaves the bad taste of “Spanglish” behind when he becomes George Simmons, a uber-successful comedy movie star who goes back to his stand-up roots after learning that he has come down with a terminal illness.

Depressed over his condition, he hires a young struggling comedian Ira Wright (a surprisingly humourous Seth Rogan, “Pineapple Express”) to write jokes for him, even though the younger Jewish funny man isn’t that funny.

The two quickly become Hollywood friends, with Simmons hiring Wright to be his assistant for, well, everything.But this promising buildup descends into outright boredom as the entourage of two travel north to Marin County to get Simmons back together with his completely unfunny former love Laura (Leslie Man, Apatow’s real-life wife) who’s in a loveless relationship with her Aussie husband Clarke (a funny but way over caffeinated Eric Bana).

If “Funny People” proves anything, it’s that people’s lives aren’t very funny. But the people you know can be pretty amusing. Case in point: one of the funniest scenes in “Funny People” comes when Simmons interacts with “good friends” Paul Reiser, Norm MacDonald and Sarah Silverman and has a hilarious heart-to-heart with Eminem and Ray Romano.

"Funny People." Starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogan. Written and directed by Judd Apatow. 146 minutes. Rated R for language and crude sexual humor throughout, and some sexuality.


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