A source of mine recently attended a screening of Funny People and sent me the following appraisal. Since I don’t intend to see this movie, I’m posting my source’s assessment but with this caveat: While he said it looked and sounded finished, with titles and music in place, there’s still a possibility this is NOT the final version to be released July 31.
I am not a fan of Adam Sandler or Seth Rogen, but I am a Judd Apatow fan. The trailer for this film actually made me laugh out loud enough to check out a screening. Now I want my time back.
It starts out all right. We see George Simmons (Adam Sandler) being recognized and amiably posing with a number of fans while on his way to see his doctor. He mugs, he cajoles, he’s the hilarious nice guy and uber-comedian. He’s like Jim Carrey, Chris Rock, Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais and, well, Adam Sandler all rolled into one. Then we see him getting the bad news that he has an incurable disease.
Devastated and devoid of any true friends he can talk to, he seeks out the group hug he knows he can only get from a live audience. So he heads back to his roots in stand-up comedy for that feeling of adoration and comfort. Enter Ira Wright (Seth Rogen).
Ira is a down-on-his-luck, unfunny comedian dreaming of a better life and trying desperately to come up with better material. George, remembering what life was like before he made it big, decides to give Ira a shot at the big time by hiring him to write a few jokes for an upcoming MySpace gig. Thus, George gets to do something good and just might make a much needed friend in the process.
The story gets mired in multiple plotlines that do nothing to move it forward. It’s like one big improv, but someone forgot to set the ground rules to give it shape and direction. Could it be Apatow was overwhelmed by his cast?
And it’s a great cast. Not only do Apatow regulars Jonah Hill, Leslie Mann and Jason Schwartzman appear, so do James Taylor, Ray Romano, Norm MacDonald and Sarah Silverman, just to name a few. Eminem also shows up to do a rant that might now be familiar to those who saw him straddled by Brüno at the MTV Movie Awards. It has nothing to do with the film’s storyline and is just one of many moments where the movie loses focus.
I think the problem is there’s too much talent and not enough plot to go around. I shuddered while viewing the end credits, seeing names of all the people who must’ve been cut out of this movie. Don’t know if they’re going to be reinserted but I’m feeling it might be better to wait for the DVD, which must have a goldmine of extended scenes and outtakes.