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Funny People - DVD Review


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</script></div>{/googleAds}According to some press interviews, the idea behind Funny People was kicked about between Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler, ex-college roommates, for quite some years before the cameras actually rolled on the script. Apatow's seeds for including Sandler in the project originated from home video recordings he had of the two, as young men, making prank calls; footage that opens the film in atypical Apatow fashion. According to what Apatow has said in interviews, he wanted to write a movie that captured the experiences of an aspiring stand-up comic. Unfortunately, both Sandler and Apatow had a somewhat non-dramatic time of finding fame, so the emotional thrust of the film needed to be fictionalized. The character of George Simmons, played by Sandler in his finest performance ever, was the missing piece in that long developed idea for a film, but thankfully this dynamic character came to life courtesy of Sandler's involvement in Funny People; Apatow's third his best - and most mature film to date.

Funny PeopleFirst thing is first, George Simmons is an asshole. He's rude and unkind; unpredictably funny and, at the same time, cruel to the people who probably love him the most if they existed. At the beginning of Funny People, Simmons is faced with his own loneliness when diagnosed with a rare type of blood disorder and given only a short time to live. Here is the man alone - who thinks only of himself - facing the end of his life. He's the spoiled rich star, concerned only with satisfying his own needs, yet finds himself wanting more at the moment of crisis. He is surrounded by fans, posters of his own successful movies (a slight jab at some of the silliness captured by Sandler's past Happy Madison productions) and is very much how the audience might suspect Sandler to be in reality. With Funny People, Sandler plays Simmons roughly smooth, full of boyish charm (the type not seen on-screen from Sandler since Billy Madison) and selfish attitudes he is both likable and despicable and the magic in the film is watching Sandler pull this off this duplicity that still manages to earn and then demand - sympathy from the audience.

Seth Rogen (Observe and Report, Knocked Up) is no stranger to the comedic world of Apatow. In fact, he is a pro at bringing Apatow's complex and emotionally demanding characters to life. Having starred in all three of Apatow's films (The Forty-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Funny People) and both of his television shows (Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared), it is safe to say that Rogen, playing struggling stand-up comic Ira Wright, knows what he is doing and exactly how to please his director and the audience. With the character of Wright though, he brings a level of sensitivity long missing from Apatow's brand of humor even Steve Carrell in The Forty-Year-Old Virgin had his moments of meanness (usually directed at none other than himself).

Wright is not good with women and also lacks the confidence to become successful at the whole stand-up comedy routine. When Simmons sees his act after his own awkward set he recognizes that Wright's jokes aren't poor, he just needs more confidence. In an act of apparent selflessness, Simmons hires him to write his material for him. Once in the Simmons house, Wright discovers that this job is more of a companion of sorts and that Simmons fully intends for Wright to help him find closure to his life. In doing so, Wright discovers what Simmons misses the most: the love of his life, Laura Anderson, played by the beautifully talented Leslie Mann.

Mann's character is every bit as charming and as memorable as described by Simmons to Wright and it is certainly easy to see how she could still be the one female whom he loves the most. Unfortunately for Simmons, she is currently married to Clarke Anderson (Eric Bana in a hilarious role) and has two lovely children, yet their chemistry (Sandler and Mann's) on-screen is never forced and seems authentic. Ultimately, their relationship won't be denied and, in the wake of news about the sudden regression of his disease, their flirty behavior seems all the more pure and innocent. It's the perfect foil for the tense friendship brewing between Simmons and Wright and when the three are together - these three funny people the seriousness of their situation weighs heavily upon the audience because we understand that the outcome cannot be a good one. Only Wright knows this, but is unsure of what to do about it. He has suddenly found himself as the moral compass of the characters a role he is not accustomed to.

Rounding out the fabulous cast is Jonah Hill as Leo Koenig (another Apatow alumni) and Jason Schwartzman (doing his equally strange and compelling Wes Anderson shtick) as skirt-chasing, karma-touting Mark Taylor Jackson, star of Yo Teach!, a crappy fictional television show that consumes him and eventually Koenig with sudden notoriety. These two, alongside Rogen, play off each other with a series of side-splitting gags and comedic comments that leaves, at times, every audience member breathless and panting for more jabs, more jokes, and more welcomed juvenile behavior.

Funny People is Apatow at his best. It has its juvenile moments moments we've come to expect and love - and then, without missing a beat, levels all that material with pure moments of absolute perfection and timing. For my money, Funny People is up there with the best of Woody Allen and Albert Brooks and, in a lot of ways, is so much better than both of those wonderful artists. Ultimately, what Apatow has done with Funny People is create a work of art that tells a story about three different people and their commitment to sanity in moments of deep, personal crisis. It's a heart wrenching story that attempts to explain, for reasons discovered only after all the silliness of daily life has subsided, why sometimes people do some pretty damn funny things.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
1 Star
5 Stars
DVD Experience
5 Stars

DVD Details:

2-Disc Unrated Collector's Edition

Screen Formats: 1.85:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish.

Language and Sound: English: DTS 5.1 HD French: DTS 5.1 Surround Spanish: DTS 5.1 Surround English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; audio commentary; gag reel.

Supplements:

Commentary - Feature-length commentary track with Judd Apatow, Adam Sandler, and Seth Rogen.
Featurettes:

Deleted Scenes -

Music:

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging

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