Matinee: Funny People

September 2, 2011 § 3 Comments

Judd Apatow first started writing and performing stand up comedy at the age of 17, he has since admitted that his act was well written, but he wasn’t much of a performer.Therefore, he began writing jokes for others including up and coming comics like Roseanne Barr, Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler. He enjoyed little success in the 1990s as a producer on The Cable Guy and he was hired to re-write The Wedding Singer, he also produced two short-lived television series’, Freeks and Geeks and Undeclared. It seemed he was destined to slip into an unknown pit of oblivion and join the rest of the could’ve beens.

However, it seemed Hollywood-land had other plans for Judd Apatow, it began with a certain movie called Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy and thus started the Apatow Revolution in mainstream comedy. For the next 7 years, he produced and or wrote 19 motion pictures and built a huge reputation¬† for prolific and consistently funny films. Apatow’s work was dominated by socially awkward characters that seem to have the worst luck, who share dialogue laced with a crude and offensive je ne sais quoi usually revolving around masturbation, the relationship you have with your cock, trying to get laid and failing to get laid.

2009’s Funny People was different. Apatow’s trademark dialogue was still there and it is still full of humour, however this film has heart and is sensationally moving. This is Apatow’s most mature offering to date and it feels like it is the movie he has been wanting to make for a long time and all his other films were purely stepping-stones to get to this moment. An almost semi-autobiographical look at stand up comedy, Apatow runs the rough with the smooth. Making you laugh with one hand and then twisting your heart-strings with the other. As we follow Adam Sandler’s soul-searching journey through his life as he tries to figure out what kind of legacy he wants to leave in his wake.

Judd Apatow’s resident collaborators are like a repertory theatre company, that continue to work well together and continue to make great movies. It’s funny that every actor in the film are playing cariacture’s of themselves and doing very little work in the way of character or even acting, but still the cast bring out some real and honest performances, especially Adam Sandler who gives a career defining performance, since he decided to dip his toes into playing it more straight.

Funny People may suffer from being about half an hour too long, but it is an interesting, funny, honest and genuinely moving look at the world of stand up comedy. Apatow’s enthusiam and sheer enjoyment about making movies with his friends and with his keen eye for detail and story makes him a true revelation in comedy. Funny People is a great movie that cements Apatow’s place in cinema history, not just as a comic writer, but as a film maker. Plus, casting Eric Bana was a moment of sheer brilliance. “Big fuckers! Smack ‘Em!”

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