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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.

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