Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
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I have a soft spot for Adam Sandler. Not only is he a gifted comedian, he can deliver dramatic roles as well. In his new film, "Funny People," Sandler's range is put to the test.
Normally Sandler delivers a good dose of sweetness and good intention, allowing a lot of forgiveness for even his dumbest characters. This time, under the direction of Judd Apatow, Sandler stars as George Simmons, an iconic stand-up comedian who has a list of rather inspired but very popular movies to his credit.
A visit to his doctor reveals a particularly deadly form of cancer with only an 8 percent survival rate. While he battles the disease and reflects on his life, Simmons decides to carry on and continue with his career.
While visiting a comedy club, he runs into wannabe comic Ira Wright, played by Seth Rogan. Ira lives with his two roommates, Leo - played by Jonah Hill - himself a struggling comic, and Jason Schwartzman as Mark, the star of a cheesy sitcom.
After Ira's set, he's approached by Simmons and asked if he and Leo would like to write material and work for him. Ira accepts but fails to tell Leo. Basically, Ira becomes a warm up act, writer, babysitter but mostly companion for Simmons as he fights for his life, and that includes regrets involving his personal life.
With Ira by his side, the comic reaches out to his parents, his sister and his lost love, Laura - played by Leslie Mann. Laura is now married to Clarke - played by Eric Bana - and has two kids. This is a major part of a very long story line that gets complicated and offers some of the most confusing and frustrating moments of the film. Ah, has our hero truly learned his lessons and has he really had a life-changing epiphany?
The major problem with this movie is it's schizophrenia. "Funny People" just doesn't know what it wants to be. There are moments of brilliance that careen into blithering nonsensical ramblings. The sexuality embedded in the film and one-note jokes focused on anatomy fixation are simply tedious. And, this film not only is long, it feels long. I couldn't wait for the final credits.
It's rated R and gets two stars.