Directed by Judd Apatow
It's pretty easy to hate Judd Apatow. The director of films like The 40-Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up does little to appease detractors of his brand of man-boy humour. But with each subsequent flick, he moves away from the juvenile joking that's become a hallmark and into a more transcendent style of comedy that says as much about his characters' lives as it does about the size of their penises. That's not to say that his latest film, Funny People, is devoid of cock jokes. In fact, it probably has more per capita than any of his other films. But at its core, Funny People is the most grown-up project of Apatow's career, not just tackling the complications of boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, but exploring what happens after boy-loses-girl and boy's-gonna-die. Adam Sandler (a life-long friend of Apatow's) plays George Simmons, a (hopefully) more lecherous and misanthropic caricature of Sandler, who makes movies like Redo (where his head has been digitally attached to a baby's) in between using his celebrity status to sleep with as many women as possible. After discovering that he has a rare form of leukaemia, he recruits Ira Weiner (played by Seth Rogen), a young, struggling stand-up comedian, who lives with two more successful friends (Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman, in hilarious supporting roles), to be his personal assistant. The two form a fast bond as George tries to hide his illness, confiding only in Ira. After being convinced this is a poor strategy, Simmons reconnects with old friends and acquaintances, leading to some very funny cameos, including brief appearances from Ray Ramano and Eminem. He also tracks down ex-flame Laura (played by Leslie Mann), who he's still desperately in love with. George and Ira eventually find themselves stranded at her house in Northern California, hanging with her two kids and asshole Aussie husband (played by a scene-stealing Eric Bana). Funny People, more than any of Apatow's work since Freaks and Geeks, balances toilet humour with emotion while simultaneously examining comedy as a craft and taking pot-shots at its cast's celebrity. Although the movie might not change your opinion of the director, even his biggest haters will have to admit that this is his most accomplished film to date. The DVD includes an "unrated version" that amounts to seven-minutes of extra, unnecessary footage, as well as a gag reel and commentary from Apatow, Sandler and Rogen.
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