06 August 2009

Funny People-Revisited

You might have noticed that for a couple of months there hasn't been as much back and forth on this site. Here's an attempt to fix that.

Chase Francl has given his Five Favorite Films on this site, and here is a chance to see what he thinks about a recent film. If you want to compare it to my thoughts on the film click here.

I really didn’t know what to make of this movie. It felt like it couldn’t decide whether to be a comedy, romance, drama, or buddy movie, so it ultimately succeeded at being none of these things. It had no identity.

I caught myself looking at my watch with about 20 minutes to go, not so much out of boredom, but because I just couldn’t figure out where it was headed. It was actually building up to be a good movie about friendship, but then there was the one-hour romantic interlude that was relevant, but somehow didn’t quite fit. To me, this movie fell somewhere between a biography (where you expect some stuff that doesn’t adhere to a true story-telling mold) and a buddy movie.

The movie also wasn’t as funny as I’d expected. It struck me that throughout the film, there wasn’t a single moment that the entire audience burst out with laughter. I certainly enjoyed parts of it, but it wasn’t memorable stuff, and it didn’t have those lines that are going to carry it into posterity. The swearing also became so tiresome that it lost the comedic effect that a well-placed curse can sometimes bring.

I actually liked the cameos, even that of Eminem. Maybe if they had let him direct the movie, they would’ve taken his suggestion and found an ending that really worked.

The movie did have plenty of upside, though. Going in, I honestly thought there was no way Sandler could effectively play the terminal illness card, and instead he played it to perfection. He and Rogen also played off each other well, and Rogen’s character was one of the more endearing I’ve seen this year. It was truly enjoyable watching him evolve from beginning to end.

It’s always interesting to see how characters handle an impending death. Sandler certainly makes you feel the emotion of it, but we were cheated out of the breadth of what it really brings. Sure there’s going to be a long list of “what if’s” and some fear when you know you’re probably going to die, but I don’t think they mined this as deeply as they could have. I wanted to see more of the intrapsychic material.

The supporting characters were marginal at best. Jonah Hill steals the show when he’s on screen, and Eric Bana’s fleeting character is wildly entertaining, albeit a little unbelievable.

In the end, I thought seeing Sandler and Rogen on screen together was enough to barely salvage the movie. It becomes apparent early on that this isn’t going to be your typical comedy, so once you shift your mindset to that, there are some really enjoyable parts. I wouldn’t recommend this movie to the casual moviegoer, but it fills a niche.

FRANCL: Not recommended.

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