COMIC DRAMA; 2hr 26min
STARRING: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jason Schwartzman, Jonah Hill
Who’s on first? From left, Rogen and Sandler
Joke wrangler Judd Apatow (Knocked Up) gets relatively serious in Funny People, which kicks off with big-shot comic George Simmons (Sandler) being diagnosed with leukaemia. George is blasé and selfish, astutely portrayed by Sandler as a chequerboard of hot and cold. His reaction spans remorse, anger and depression, overlaid with a patina of weariness that lifts only slightly when he rechannels his energy into stand-up. After he hires struggling comic Ira Wright (Rogen) as his joke-writing, opening-act factotum, Ira, the caring sort, becomes George’s confidant. This is not a cosy role, especially when George learns he may be on the mend.
It wouldn’t be Apatow Country without the D-word gags, the frat-style back and forth and a romantic entanglement courtesy of onscreen couple Mann and Bana as George’s ex and her philandering husband. And it definitely wouldn’t be Apatow without its signature soft heart, beating mighty slowly at 146 minutes. Laughter and tears can feel schizophrenic when laid on so thick. Rogen and Sandler are up for the long haul but that doesn’t mean their hairy escapades couldn’t use a significant trim.