By DAVID TINDELL
“I’m trying to make a serious movie that is twice as funny as my other movies. Wish me luck,” Apatow said in reference to the his newest flick, “Funny People.” Unfortunately, Apatow’s third undertaking since comedic triumphs “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up” doesn’t deliver half of Apatow’s past genius.
The movie follows the story of the successful comedian George Simmons (Adam Sandler) who has a depressing near-death experience and seeks Ira Wright (Seth Rogan) to help him write jokes and get his “act” back together. It’s certainly Apatow’s most mature movie, but definitely not his funniest.
Which isn’t to say that the premise had no promise, but both audience and Sandler are forced to seek for comedy drowning in depression. Like visiting your relatives, the movie was enjoyable about 5 minutes out of every 45. Honestly, how much can we expect to laugh at a cynic with leukemia? Certainly not for 2 hours and 20 minutes (yes, the movie is that long).
Additionally, the love plots between George, Ira and Laura (Leslie Mann) severely weighed the movie down in romance drama. First, George won’t tell Laura he’s dying, then he tells her, then he doesn’t tell her he is getting better—imagine a really bad episode of “Desperate Housewives” with uglier characters (Seth Rogan instead of Eva Longoria).
The laughs do roll in “Funny People,” but never for very long. The scene with Sandler and the doctor is funny but Sandler barraging him for his accent grows tiring quickly. The constant quips from Jonas Hill are also worthwhile, but sometimes seem out of place, particularly his railings on Harry Potter. Also the jokes spread throughout the dialogue are humorous, but even I grew weary of 146 minutes of penis jokes.
“Funny People” definitely utilized the art of cameos with—you guessed it—funny people. Sarah Silverman, Ray Romano and Dave Attell are only some of the comics who happen to appear in a movie about standup comedy. I will admit though—the confrontation between Eminem and Ray Romano was the funniest part of the movie.
Sandler movies have been losing gravitation since 2006’s “Click” (not funny) up to 2008’s “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan” (stupid). With Apatow as director and writer, “Funny People” could have been a Sandler masterpiece, but, even as a whole-hearted Sandler fan, “Funny People” needed funnier people.
‘Funny People’ Screenings:
Friday: 7 p.m. in Combs 139
Saturday: 10 p.m. in Combs 139
Admission is $1.