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FUNNY PEOPLE (2009) ** ½

George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is a famous comedian who learns he has a rare blood disease.  He goes on a comedy club tour to try to get back to his stand-up roots and takes a shine to a struggling comic named Ira (Seth Rogan).  George hires Ira to write jokes for his act and be his assistant and they gradually become friends.  When George kicks the illness, he tries to get it on with a former flame (Leslie Mann) who is married to an aggressive Australian (Eric Bana), much to the chagrin of Ira.  

 

I highly enjoyed director Judd Apatow’s previous flicks 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up so Funny People was a bit of a letdown for me.  Things started off rather well and the scenes of George and Ira bonding had a lot of heart to them (think Punchline meets Terms of Endearment).  I also loved all the famous comedian cameos (everyone from Norm MacDonald to Sarah Silverman) too.  The third act is where the movie really shits the bed.  The Lifetime Channelly romantic triangle is trite and there is very little for Rogan’s character to do by that point.  (He’s basically a substitute for the audience as he just wants the whole mess to be over with so he can go home.)

 

Sandler does a fine job in the flick and handles himself well in a dramatic role.  He’s not as good as he was in Punch-Drunk Love but solid just the same.  I can’t definitively tell what his dramatic range is like since I didn’t see him in Spanglish or in that other drama he did.  (I think it was called 9/11 Sucked.)  I’m sure there are a lot of autobiographical touches in the film (Sandler and Apatow were roommates before they were famous) that helped add extra dimension to his character.  Rogen comes off best out of everyone in the cast yet his character more or less just becomes an innocent bystander for the latter half of the film.  Mann is also quite good as the foxy object of Sandler’s affections.  Since she’s the director’s wife, there is a No Ta-Ta’s Clause in her contract, which is unfortunate cuz she’s pretty banging.

 

Out of all the celebrity cameos, hands down the funniest was when Eminem wanted to fight Ray Romano.  Luckily, Rogen broke it up by delivering the best line of the movie:  “I thought everybody loved you!”

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