Posted by: Dr P | September 14, 2009

Funny People

Now in my time I’ve met some funny people. There are quite a few of them on my friends list. Of course that goes both ways … some are funny hilarious, others are funny in the head. I’d like to think I bestride the two options like a colossus, one leg perched precariously in each.

With that in mind, I thought it an excellent time to go see “Funny People”, the new movie from Judd Apatow. If you have been paying attention to Mr Apatow, you’ll know he’s the genius behind classic comedies “Knocked Up” and “Superbad”, both of which received glowing reviews from yours truly in the pages of this hallowed group. I absolutely love the sense of humour, as it parallels mine – naughty, fun, and above all screamingly hilarious! “Whoa, Paul” I hear you shout at your monitors, “are you really all of those things?” Well, yes, I certainly am. Well, I’m naughty anyway. Does that count?

With faithful companion and next door neighbour Big G in tow, this was one movie we didn’t want to miss. Such was our excitement we even pushed the boat out and had an ice cream (2 scoops). I mean we each had one, we obviously didn’t share. The only thing Gareth and I share is a fence … anyway, sadly there was less fun to be had with the serving girl this time around, and we were running slightly late anyway, allowing us little time for such frippery.

Right! In essence the movie centres around 2 main characters. Veteran comedian George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is a global star of big screen comedies, he has TV work, a big comedy circuit on the go, and much more – he’s a superstar. However he’s also just been diagnosed with a terminal health condition. Into his world comes Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), an aspiring comedy writer and stand up guy, who is pretty much at the bottom of the food chain. When Simmons turns up randomly at a comedy club at which Ira is performing, he lets loose on the audience with some hard hitting self-loathing. Ira picks up on this and royally takes the mickey out of the star, getting proper laughs for perhaps the first time in his fledgling career.

Rather than be appalled by the younger comedian, Simmons sees something he likes and takes Ira under his wing, and asks him to become a writer for him – one of the biggest gigs going. He also asks him to become something of a personal assistant and helper, and divulges his medical condition. Ira’s housemates are shocked by this turn of events and can’t believe their friend’s luck. These two characters are beautifully played by Jonah Hill (Leo) and Jason Schwartzman (Mark). The former is another aspiring comedian, while the latter now has his own dreadful cable TV show.

As Simmons now believes he has little time left in his life, he embarks on a mission to make amends with friends and his ex-girlfriend, and also return to the more intimate stand up gigs where he made his name. Many of the film’s highlights come from these routines, which are brilliantly crafted. However, the real joy comes in the interplay between the leading characters, and the growing realisation for Ira that perhaps the glamorous life isn’t all it seems.

The central characters are all superbly portrayed, and Apatow scores yet another bullseye with this seemingly effortless comedy – yet it has many darker moments too – Simmons has a lot of bitterness and anger inside him, and his medical condition brings that to the fore. As with Superbad and Knocked Up, there are plenty of bleak moments and dark humour alongside the laugh out loud gags (of which there are plenty).

I thoroughly recommend this to anyone with a sense of humour, and fans of Sandler, Rogen or Jonah Hill will find much to admire from their heroes. They may be starting to get a little typecast as down on their luck nerdy good guys, but Rogen and Hill in particular carry off the role with some aplomb. Sandler is excellent, relying less on the nerdiness which has carried him through several films, and instead exploring a harder edged cynical humour.


Memorable moments:

Dr. Lars: It’s too early to know who’s winning the fight: the medicine or the disease.
George Simmons: Did anybody ever tell you, you have a very scary accent?
Dr. Lars: You are a very funny man. I enjoy your movies.
George Simmons: And I enjoy all of your movies.
Dr. Lars: [surprised] Which movies?
George Simmons: The ones where you try to kill Bruce Willis.

Mark: Don’t put me in this position where I have to fuck my way out of a corner!
Leo: He’ll do it too. I’ve seen him.

James Taylor: Fuck Facebook!

George Simmons: Are you mad that you died at the end of Die Hard?

George Simmons: So, which room is yours?
Ira Wright: Prepare to take a hike, because you’re standing in it.

George Simmons: Good news, Bonita. I went to the doctor today. He said I was doing better.
Bonita: That’s good, Mr. Simmons. I found the pants you were looking for. They were in the closet.

Leo: I just came back from the new Harry Potter movie. Harry’s getting old. They should start calling him Harold Potter.


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