Saturday, July 03, 2010

Funny People

2009, US, directed by Judd Apatow

It feels as though there's more than one film rather clumsily shoehorned together here, with a whole new storyline injected quite late in proceedings, as the film changes direction and the central character, a misanthropic comedian named George Simmons (Adam Sandler), re-appraises his life. As Scott Foundas's Village Voice review notes, the film can't withstand this abrupt shift, which brings with a new subplot, a raft of new characters, and a change of location. In a sense, of course, those events are all obstacles to the consummation of the film's central bromance, between Simmons and his sidekick/assistant/writer Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) - the kinds of obstacle that pop up, right on cue, in the late acts only to be resolved or forgotten in time for the crucial reunion that allows the end credits to roll.

But the film takes so long to get to that point - 145 minutes makes for a very long comedy - that it's difficult to still care for the characters by the concluding sequences. By that stage, the fresh interactions between Rogen and his roommates Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman, often extremely funny, seem a distant memory, replaced by interminable and no longer especially amusing penis jokes (a drinking game based on references to genitalia would result in hospitalization).

There are, of course, some compensations, particularly the aforementioned trio of roommates, while the interactions between Simmons and his doctor, the priceless Torsten Voges, are extremely amusing. The photography, too, is beautiful - Janusz Kaminski finds something new and gleaming in the light of both northern and southern California, particularly in the sequences around Simmons's house, such as the gorgeous overhead shot of an intensely blue pool that almost fills the screen.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States