Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Funny People (2009)

Funny People is a 2009 American comedy-drama film written, produced and directed by Judd Apatow, and starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, and Leslie Mann. The film was released on 31 July 2009 in North America, and on 28 August 2009 in the United Kingdom. Funny People uses considerably more dramatic elements than seen in Apatow's previous films. The film was co-produced by Apatow Productions and Mr. Madison 23 Productions, a subsidiary of Sandler's company Happy Madison. Universal Pictures and Columbia Pictures co-financed the film and it also served as a worldwide distributor.

The Plot

George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is a very successful 40-something comedian and actor. However, he is self-absorbed, lonely and estranged from his family. When diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, George is offered an experimental treatment that has an eight-percent chance of therapeutic response. Believing he is about to die, he decides to return to his roots and do stand-up comedy. Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) is an aspiring stand-up comedian who lives in an apartment with his two best friends, Mark Taylor Jackson and Leo Koenig (Jason Schwartzman and Jonah Hill). Mark stars in a fictional poorly-conceived sitcom, Yo Teach, where he plays a teacher for a group of misfit students. Despite the obvious failings of the show, Mark constantly brags about his high income and holds himself in a higher regard as an actor and comedian. When fellow stand-up comedienne Daisy (Aubrey Plaza) visits him, Mark magnanimously tells Ira that he will hold off having sex with her for ten days in order for Ira to make a play for her. George and Ira meet at a comedy club, where George takes the stage to deliver a dark routine, which Ira mocks as the follow-up act. George calls Ira the next morning and asks him to write jokes for George's upcoming gig at a MySpace corporate event.

The event goes well and George hires Ira as his assistant. When George tells him about his condition, Ira cares for him through the treatment. After a walking conversation between Ira, Mark, and Leo, Ira implores George to tell people about his disease. George calls his ex-fiancée, Laura (Leslie Mann), to apologize for his continual infidelities when they were together, but does not tell her why he is having a change of heart. Meanwhile, Ira awkwardly asks Daisy out, but later discovers that she and Mark have slept together, and angrily cuts off all ties with her. Laura comes to one of George′s shows and later visits him at his house, telling him that her husband, Clarke, cheats on her as well. They reconcile and tentatively become friends. George′s physician tells him that the medicine has worked: George's leukemia is in remission. George is happy that the death sentence has been lifted, but is unsure what to do with his life now that he has the rest of it to live. He decides he wants a long-term relationship and calls Laura, but does not tell her the news. George and Ira go to a gig in San Francisco; Laura meets them there. George makes Ira tell Laura during intermission that he is free of disease. George later explains that he did not want to "jinx it". They embrace and she invites George and Ira to her house in Marin County.

George and Ira spend time with Laura and her daughters. George and Laura sneak into the guest house together to have sex; meanwhile, Ira tells both daughters that George is healthy. When Clarke (Eric Bana) unexpectedly arrives, Laura asks George to maintain the façade of being deathly sick. In the morning, Clarke bids George a tearful goodbye — which is cut short when his daughters reveal that George is actually healthy. Clarke confronts Laura and accuses her cheating. In response, Laura confronts him with his infidelity, and he drives off in a huff. Laura tells George that she plans to leave Clarke; he is overjoyed, but Ira tells him their affair will destroy a family. Angered, George threatens to fire him. The next day, George, Ira, and Laura watch the video of Laura′s daughter, Mabel, performing the song "Memory" from the musical Cats; Ira and Laura find the performance moving, but George appears bored. Laura leaves for the airport to tell Clarke she is leaving him; Ira lies to George and follows her. At the airport, Clarke confesses his infidelity to Laura, and pleads with her to give their marriage another try. Laura agrees and says her affair with George was a mere "flirtation". They discover Ira following them, and goad him into admitting that he is trying to stop George and Laura from running off together.

An enraged Clarke chases George out of his house and beats him up. George forces Laura to choose between him and Clarke; she chooses her husband, and bids George a tearful goodbye. Heading back to Los Angeles, George berates Ira for his betrayal and fires him. Ira upbraids George for not learning anything from his near-death experience, and tells him that he will never be able to escape his own personal failings because of his selfish nature. Ira returns to his old job at the deli department while he starts to date Daisy. George attends Ira′s stand-up and sees that his old assistant has become a far more confident performer. The next day, George finds Ira at work and admits that even though he is no longer sick, his attitude needs improvement. The film ends when George and Ira start telling each others' jokes with George having written down a few for Ira as they laugh together and repair their friendship.


Funny People received generally positive reviews from the critics and currently holds a 67% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 50% "Rotten" rating among Top Critics, based on the consensus that the film "features the requisite humor, as well as considerable emotional depth, resulting in Judd Apatow's most mature film to date." Another review aggregator, Metacritic, gave the film a metascore of 60 out of 100 under the "Mixed or Average Reviews" category, based on 35 reviews.

Jeffrey Wells from Hollywood Elsewhere received feedback from sources who had seen a test screening, with one source calling it "really funny, a really sweet movie, a lot of veracity...really a brilliant film", comparing it to the works of James L. Brooks.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film 3½ stars of four, calling it "a real movie. That means carefully written dialogue and carefully placed supporting performances — and it's about something. It could have easily been a formula film...but George Simmons learns and changes during his ordeal, and we empathize." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone also praised the film, writing, "Apatow scores by crafting the film equivalent of a stand-up routine that encompasses the joy, pain, anger, loneliness and aching doubt that go into making an audience laugh." Kyle Smith of the New York Post wrote that the film was "one of the most absorbing films of the year."

Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film one of its mixed reviews, complaining of the film's two-and-a-half-hour running time: "Funny People attempt by Apatow to reconcile the huge success he has become with the up-and-comer he once was. The results run an increasingly exasperating 2½ hours."

The Cast

Adam Sandler as George Simmons
 Seth Rogen as Ira Wright
 Leslie Mann as Laura
 Eric Bana as Clarke
 Jonah Hill as Leo Koenig
 Jason Schwartzman as Mark Taylor Jackson
 Aubrey Plaza as Daisy Danby
 Maude Apatow as Mable
 Iris Apatow as Ingrid
 RZA as Chuck
 Aziz Ansari as Randy
 Torsten Voges as Dr. Lars
 Allan Wasserman as Dr. Stevens

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