Skip to main content

Review: Funny People

Funny People charts a strange course through the seas of comedy. Whereas a typical comedic film will spend as much time in the choppy waters of slapstick as possible (e.g. Step Brothers, The 40 Year-Old Virgin) Funny People portrays a more realistic journey on the ocean of life, often showing characters in the doldrums and in dire straits.

If there were fifty or a hundred fewer dick jokes, it might be mistaken for a drama.

The film takes a slight departure from the usual dramatic arc used in nearly all Hollywood films. Such departures are usually the calling card of an inexperienced director, or a film whose vision was compromised by the studio. The abnormal story arc in Funny People is only slightly strange. To begin with, the characters progress through a very typical narrative structure, but after the 1:30 to 1:40 mark, where most films end, the film takes on a new narrative which later ties into the resolution of the earlier plot in the film. It's nice to see some liberties taken in film making, and even nicer to see that they work.

Adam Sandler seems to make one quality film per year, and another lower quality film with broader appeal to earn money (e.g. Reign Over Me / I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry). Funny People qualifies as both; his decent acting chops are on the table, but his characteristic pervasive product placement and blue humour are also in full swing. In general, the cast works very well together; it's a tribute to the directing skill of Judd Apatow that he always gets good chemistry and cohesion from the players. Improvisation, another of his hallmarks, is also used to great effect in the film.

A strong point is when the film makes some serious statements about the comedy industry, specifically through the character Raaaaaaaandy and in the sitcom Yo Teach (which is reminiscent of Ricky Gervais' sitcom satire When the Whistle Blows). Another such satire is the send-up of Sandler's own career, through the films like Mer-man and Re-Do. Each of these satires is a shot over the bow of unfunny aspects of the comedy industry.

Aside from a couple of serious lapses in the quality of the cinematography in the film, I found it to be of very high quality and quite enjoyable.

Popular posts from this blog

Hulk vs. The Incredible Hulk vs. The Avengers

There are two movies about the Hulk and one that features the green monster as a major player. One was made in 2003 by an auteur, starring a little-known Aussie. Five years later The Incredible Hulk came out to the same tepid reaction as Ang Lee's Hulk did. This weekend, The Avengers made the Hulk as popular as he has been in a long time. So it comes down to this: Hulk vs. Hulk vs. Hulk. Who will smash whom?

Round One: Acting
Edward Norton outshines Eric Bana as the dual persona of the meek Bruce Banner and the rage-induced Hulk. Eric Bana was given little to do but run and fight and often the audience was just waiting for him to transform. With the Incredible Hulk, Norton's Banner is fully fleshed-out and we are given a reason to care about him. Being allowed to go a little dark with Banner's scenes questioning what is left of his life provided emotional resonance to the character that Hulk lacked. Yet even with the capable performance that Norton gives there was something …

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…

Review: The Voices

Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) spends his days working the nine-to-five shift at his new job at the Milton Bathtub Factory. Jerry is chipper to the point that he may turn some people off, but he never stops trying to make friends. Friends are something that Jerry could use because the only other conversation he has is with his dog Bosco and his cat Mr. Whiskers. Things are looking up though, Jerry has been tasked with planning the company picnic and he’s asked a girl (Gemma Arterton) out on a date. Jerry is so excited to share the news he rushes home to tell his pets about Fiona. Oddly enough, both Bosco and Mr. Whiskers start talking back.

No need to go back and re-read that last sentence, yes, Ryan Reynolds has pets who talk back to him. His dog, Bosco, is quite affable, however, his cat, Mr. Whiskers, would feel right at home curled in the lap of Blofeld. Unfortunately for everyone around him, it’s the advice of the evil cat that Jerry heeds more often than not. For all of Jerry’s pleasant…