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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Andy Dick
Sarah Silverman
Jonah Hill
Seth Rogen
Adam Sandler
Leslie Mann
Eric Bana
Jason Schwartzman.
Directors
Judd Apatow.
Screenwriters
Judd Apatow.
Running Time
146 minutes

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Funny People
Apatow does a dram-com-rom-com about comedy.


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Plot
When world-famous comedian George Simmons (Sandler) is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he recruits wannabe stand-up Ira (Rogen) towrite material for him. He also tries to re-ignite the flame with ex Laura (Mann), despite her marriage to Clarke (Bana)…


Review
Funny People
It’s no small comfort that the month the beloved John Hughes passes, his most natural successor truly hits his stride. Ferris’ father may no longer be with us — R. I. P., dude — but, on the evidence of Funny People, his spirit has found a more than suitable surrogate for some time to come. Judd Apatow has long-since established his credentials in the comedy marketplace ($1.4 billion ago, give or take), but here he dares to tread outside the boundaries some reviewers seem so insistent he play within. Attacked, apparently, for its ambition (sacrilege, clearly) by critics on release in the US, and suffering a subsequent second-week drop-off, Funny People is comfortably his best movie yet, not to mention one of the finest comedies to bowl along in years.

Abrasive, unapologetic, dark and brilliantly shot (by Spielberg regular Janusz Kaminski, no less), it simultaneously takes big risks and refuses shortcuts — and consequently does come in at a patience-stretching two-and-a-half hours. But in shooting for the moon, Apatow justifies his reputation as the figurehead of the exciting new wave of comedy filmmakers. And again he has one thing on his mind. But where The 40-Year-Old Virgin was about getting laid and Knocked Up having kids, his preoccupation this time is death. His circle-of-life trilogy coming to its beautiful conclusion.

It’s all wonderfully personal. From the pre-credits footage of a 20 year-old Adam Sandler making prank phone calls — shot by Apatow when the pair were flatmates — to some of Apatow’s most pointed observations on the dilemmas of adulthood — “It’s easy to be faithful, when no-one wants to fuck you” — it is consistently, painfully frank.

Working under the quasi-improvised style Apatow dubs his “half-assed Mike Leigh”, the cast — allowed to roam, but never too far — are sensational in a succession of knockout sequences that feel at once tightly constructed and delightfully freeform. Mann (aka Mrs. Apatow) and Schwartzman are as superb as always, she as George’s one-who-got-away and he a slimy sitcom star. Newcomer Aubrey Plaza is a deadpan joy, and Bana returns to his roots as a stand-up with relish.

But it’s Rogen and Sandler who really impress. With delicious irony, the slimmed-down Rogen is by far at his most rounded here, thoughtful, witty and sensitive, the spine of the story. Sandler, meanwhile, is a revelation. Simmons, an unlikable, shallow egomaniac who just happens to be as hilarious as he is hooked on hollow sex and ice lollies, is his best work by some distance. Subtle and more natural than Punch-Drunk Love, were there an Oscar for Best Performance For Most Of A Movie, we’d recommend a trip to Ladbrokes pronto.

Where both he and the movie lose traction and probably nominations is in a final half-hour that drifts alarmingly towards the trite. Until that point, Apatow’s channelling of James L. Brooks and Hal Ashby has created a story more European than American, about people over plot. Quite why he goes all Nora Ephron for a climax of front-lawn punch-ups and mad airport dashes remains a mystery.

As a rare, personal insight into the life of a stand-up, Apatow’s labour of love remains a triumph, a thoughtful tale of love, loyalty and second chances, peppered with cock-jokes. Where previous forays into the circuit, such as Lenny and Punchline, have suffered a hit-and-miss level of on-stage material, Funny People combines some truly inspired dialogue — “Don’t put me in a position where I have to fuck my way out of a corner!” — and genuinely hilarious routines, from Rogen especially. Particular kudos going to a skit in which Tom Cruise, David Beckham and Will Smith rub the tips of their penises together.

Meanwhile, his use of cameos, a device often overplayed to the point of irritation (hello, Ricky Gervais) is perfectly judged, pinnacling in a bar scene that sees a reflective Eminem abuse a startled Ray Romano: “Raymond, I thought everybody loved you.”


Verdict
An absolute treat. In spite of its disappointing climax, this is Apatow’s smartest, rudest and — yes — funniest film yet.


Reviewed by Mark Dinning

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Funny People
Empire Star Rating

Somewhere Between A Rock And A Hard Place

If you watch this film as a drama rather than a comedy, you will have an enjoyably moving experience. Watch it expecting the usual Apatow brand of slacker crude humour, you will be bitterly disappointed. It is, however, an entertaining portrayal of the world of stand up comedy, and more than rewards you for sitting through its 2 hour- plus running time. Sandler has found a nice niche in this film and his role is a surprising return to form for him. Rogan does his usual winning formula of lovable... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 18:01, 11 December 2010 | Report This Post


I wouldn't really class this as a Comedy

When I put this the DVD on I hadn't seen or read anything about the film. I'd borrowed it from a friend as just a the DVD, I didn't even have the box. Adam Sandler and Seth Rogan so I expected a silly comedy,not great but fun to watch for a couple of hours. What I got was a truely inspired Drama telling the story of a human tradegy and some one's struggle to cope with it when they have no friends or family to turn to. I would say the worst thing about this film is it's marketing, this is n... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Adrian1794 at 07:48, 01 August 2010 | Report This Post


Occasionally Funny People

The Empire fanboy kiss arse review is way off the mark. I just about got through this film, which is rescued from complete dross by a wonderful Eric Bana cameo towards the end. The Eminem / Ray Romano scene is funny, but everything else about this film is very very average. Sandler and Rogen have no comedy spark or chemistry between them, it's way too long, and the usual Apatow aging frat boy plot filler supporting cast are wearing thin -pun intended on Jonah Hill. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by C K Dexter Haven at 07:01, 31 July 2010 | Report This Post


Occasionally Funny People

The Empire fanboy kiss arse review is way off the mark. I just about got through this film, which is rescued from complete dross by a wonderful Eric Bana cameo towards the end. The Eminem / Ray Romano scene is funny, but everything else about this film is very very average. Sandler and Rogen have no comedy spark or chemistry between them, it's way too long, and the usual Apatow aging frat boy plot filler supporting cast are wearing thin -pun intended on Jonah Hill. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by C K Dexter Haven at 07:01, 31 July 2010 | Report This Post


Great!

"Funny People" shows off Adam Sandler like a trophy, saying "Y'see! He CAN act!". They prove their point. Sandler is wonderful in this Apatow dramedy. People have been put off by the fact they thought they were going to see a "stupid comedy". This is pretty emotional, gripping stuff...but yes it's funny too. It's one of these movies that feels like an epic on a small scale, but in a good way. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by krisjcummins at 21:14, 02 May 2010 | Report This Post


Not Funny People

Not funny. At all. 3/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by robwillphill at 12:01, 28 April 2010 | Report This Post


Not Funny People

Not funny. At all. 3/10 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by robwillphill at 12:01, 28 April 2010 | Report This Post


Apatows Best

Probably Sandler and Rogens best performances as well Considering Rogens wonderful turn in Observe and Report And Adam Sandler....whoa baby, absolutely Astonishing! Thoroughly impressed with the handling of it's realistic and complex characters The dick-joke-purists be damned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by monkeyhumour at 07:49, 27 March 2010 | Report This Post


Let Down

I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought this film was boring and pointless. Even the great performances from Sandler and Bana could not save this. I haven't been so unintersted in a film since Pinapple Express! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by fraser1978 at 10:50, 08 February 2010 | Report This Post


its funny (in parts)

Judd Apatow's third film promises much. It's both ambitious in terms of it's concept and stars all the usual regulars plus Adam Sandler, who plays the ridiculously rich and successful, yet emotionally detatched comedian/ film star, George Simmons. Ira (Rogan) is his budding, understudy and joke writer, but even he looks drained by the end of this tiresome marathon. To be fair when the jokes are good they're good, but it too easily descends into childish sexual innuendos about 'balls' and 'dic... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gzus at 18:56, 01 January 2010 | Report This Post


Sandler is a revelation

Apatow's most mature work to date the kind of comedic drama they don't make enough of, unfortunately the dick joke crowd may be put off by its more serious tone. Sandler provides his most accomplished work to date, and Seth Rogen provides proof he is not a one trick pony with a subtle, believable turn. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dieter Von Cunth at 00:13, 24 December 2009 | Report This Post


Sandler is a revelation

Apatow's most mature work to date the kind of comedic drama they don't make enough of, unfortunately the dick joke crowd may be put off by its more serious tone. Sandler provides his most accomplished work to date, and Seth Rogen provides proof he is not a one trick pony with a subtle, believable turn. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dieter Von Cunth at 00:13, 24 December 2009 | Report This Post


His best flm so far...

I really enjoyed this film- and it looked especially good on Blueray (probably down to being shot by Janusz Kaminski). It also seemed more like a Cameron Crowe film, then a Judd Apatow film- which can only be a good thing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stevos at 22:41, 23 December 2009 | Report This Post


empire you fooled me again !

hmmn. was really looking forward to seeing this especially after your review. it was watchable i wasn't bored but it was too long and i only laughed a couple of times - just thought it was gonna be different to how it was. better than 2 stars just about 3 stars ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jerkyjudas at 00:15, 17 December 2009 | Report This Post


Not Funny and Not Mature...an overlong self indulgent mess? YES

I love the apatow comedies especially 40 year old virgin, knocked up and superbad so i went into this with HIGH expectations especially after Empire and many others positive reviews. HOWEVER....this was incredibly disappointing nowhere near as funny as previous apatow productions i only laughed ONCE in this entire 2 and a half hour long film...people say its a drama and much more mature and that people who dont like, only dont like it cos its not funny enough and it isnt filled with penis jok... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by THE DALTONATOR at 17:38, 22 November 2009 | Report This Post


Funny People

Despite the outrageously halrious films that have previously been presented by aptow funny people wasnt one of them. Like many others i would have put it down to a drama film, but i couldnt possibly due to the comical cast and the constant attempt at jokes that weren't even funny. However i must compliment Jonah Hill when he is playing with the cats, i did think this was the most up lifting piece of the films relativity poor attempt of a Serious comedy. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Antmc5 at 22:49, 29 October 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Funny People

I loved this so did the three people I was with. I think the clue's in the title. This is not a film about funny things happening to people it's a film about things happening to funny people. Sandler's performance was excellent as was the rest of the cast. I'll agree it lost its way at the end but the work that had gone before more than made up for this. If you didnlt find the stand-up comedy funny then I can understand there's not much to laugh at here but I loved it. I don't know which of the... More

Posted by squeezyrider at 13:25, 06 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Funny People

I walked out, I was hoping Eric Bana would save it, but he didn't. I wasn't the only one who walked either, quite a few people did!! Boring and unfunny! ... More

Posted by Ed Wood at 19:33, 03 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Funny People

If you're looking for a comedy this isn't one, it's a drama about comedians. Clearly because of the subject matter there are funny moments and quite a lot of them however it is a pretty serious and well acted drama. A lot of people walked out of this whilst I was watching, clearly looking for a comedy, but personally I thought it was a well put together drama, with some great characters and stories. Probably could have benefited from being cut down by 20-30 min but still good. One stand out... More

Posted by Marvel_79 at 13:56, 03 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Funny People

L: themightyhutch FUNNY PEOPLE (Apatow, 2009) MAYBE SPOILERS The third directorial effort from Judd Apatow comes in high expectations from me. I loved The 40 Year Old Virgin and I loved Knocked Up. His productorial and written efforts also come under high regards from me, not because they are accomplished and industry changing films but because they are all very well sculpted. The characters are fully formed, have a complete start and end point but most of all, they are char... More

Posted by paul_ie86 at 23:51, 02 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Funny People

FUNNY PEOPLE (Apatow, 2009) MAYBE SPOILERS The third directorial effort from Judd Apatow comes in high expectations from me. I loved The 40 Year Old Virgin and I loved Knocked Up. His productorial and written efforts also come under high regards from me, not because they are accomplished and industry changing films but because they are all very well sculpted. The characters are fully formed, have a complete start and end point but most of all, they are characters we end up caring abo... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by themightyhutch at 22:49, 02 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Funny People

sandler is still a painfully unfunny hack i see then. ... More

Posted by spamandham at 20:43, 02 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Funny People

I'll stick up for you, Empire.   I really enjoyed it, but perhaps that's because I was expecting something rather more cerebral than 2-and-a-half hours of tits and knob jokes (I was, however, pleasantly surprised at the frequency and quality of the latter!).   Overlong, I agree; but this criticism is probably what costs this ambitious and clearly very personal film its fifth star.  ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by PJimmy at 14:38, 01 September 2009 | Report This Post


RE: Funny People

Certainly wouldn't give it 4 stars. 3 stars at a push and you'll be happy with it. Comedy really wasn't there and as someone has already said, it was more of a drama than anything else. It was too long, the main plot was unclear and the ending fell flatter than a Paris Hilton fart. ... More

Posted by liamario at 00:01, 01 September 2009 | Report This Post


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