Funny People is the long awaited cancer-comedy, well that what it was called in its early stages and the world was preparing to be shocked and offended and laugh of course because no matter how terrible something is, there’s always a joke about the subject around the corner. Well that movie never saw the day of light because Funny People is about a successful comedian who gets diagnosed with leukemia and comes to the conclusion than he has no friends or family other than people he is connected to professionally. Managers are great to get you gigs, but when it comes to a shoulder to cry on or a listening ear they just don’t deliver.
In Funny People Sandler plays a version of himself, and a rif on several other stand-up comedians who have gone from the stage to doing abysmal (family) movies. Sound familiar? Well one of the more funny parts of the movie is all the references to fake-movies Sandler’s character George Simmons starred in. Sandler as Merman, a mermale and Re-do in which Sandler’s head is digitally put on a baby’s body. He is a star and lives a star’s life but then gets confronted by the fact he has a form of leukemia. Only an experimental treatment could work but has an 8% succession rate so chances on beating the disease are slim. Confronted with his short life expectancy Sandler’s comedy routine turns dark and he enlists struggling stand-up comedian Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) to write for him. He becomes the closest thing Sandler has for a friend and is the only one who knows of his condition.
With Sandler, Rogen, Jonah Hill and Judd Apatow it will be easy to mistake this movie for a simple comedy full of fart jokes but the movie lingers more to drama. But make no mistake, the movie is still full of penis jokes and similar subjects. Sandler gets to play it straight this time although the comedian in him get his fair share of screen time as well. people expecting a trademark low-brow comedy Sandler usually stars in are bound to be disappointed by the dramatic parts though the laughs are never far away. But there is a tiny uneven feel to the movie.
The movie has a running time of almost two and a half hours which is pretty long and the movie could have done with some trimming. Not that it really lags but some pieces of the plot could have been cut short and are not relevant to the main storyline.
The movie is also chock-full of cameos. Eminem, Sarah Silverman, Andy Dick, Ray Romano, Paul Reiser and many more can be spotted. Not really necessary but always fun to see. It doesn’t hurt the movie.
It’s a more serious Sandler-vehicle and he proves once more he can do a serious role. But I’m afraid that like so many comedians who succeed at a serious role put those roles to shame by appearing in a dozen atrocious comedies again after that. The rest of the cast do their usual stuff. Apparently Eric Bana talks in his native Australian tongue, so he could improvise his lines. Sadly none of his lines have a non-scripted feeling.
Funny People is a funny movie with a touch of drama woven through it. I didn’t like most of the characters but I did laugh due to them.