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Ryan Stauffer

I haven't seen FUNNY PEOPLE, so I can't comment about Sandler's character in that movie, but I remember hearing James L. Brooks say in the commentary for SPANGLISH that John Clasky is the real Adam Sandler.

JamminGirl

Sounds like you liked it... a bit. Good for you. I thought it was super long(well you did too, gotta admit) and all the penis and male-sex jokes, not funny.
But yeah, I agree with you on Adam Sandler. Apart of Spanglish, this is the first time I've seen him in a (relatively) watchable movie. Good for him.
Apatow(is that his real name? is it Jewish?),won't be able to write a convincing female role until he starts seeing women as a whole instead of easy lays for shlubbish characters. But he has daughters and a wife, so maybe there's hope...

E.C. Henry

Great review, Billy,

You really get Jud Appatow: why he does what he does, and what makes him tick.

You are truly blessed, I just read at Scott Myers' blogspot, that Judd is signed up to do three pictures at Universal. Hopefully, you'll be working closely with him. That sould be fun, and EASY money for you, as the hummor content in WHATEVER Judd does should be high. Speaking of which, do you know what three pictures he wants to do at Universal?

I'm a huge fan of Judd Apatow, though I find some of his use of excess juvinile humor is a turn-off. The use of juvinal humor in "Funny People" was right on the edge of distaste -- for me. Some's tollerable, too much and no matter what the story is, I disconnect from it. Yes, kids 11-15 really do talk like that (remembering from my own journey) BUT that doesn't mean I want to relive that on the silver screen...

As for "Funny People," like you, Billy, I liked Adam Sandler's performance. Was a lot more impressed with Seth Rogan's acting chops than you; love his uncomfortable serious look. Eric Bana's Aussie at first made me think the picture is about to tank, but Judd did a NICE JOB building the romantic rival up late in the picture, and making him a little unpredictable and likeable. For me, that was one of the hidden gems in the show. And Judd's wife, Leslie Mann, is SO FUN to watch on screen. I mean this chick can steal sceenes (drunk "sure thing" in "The 40 Year Old Virgin,") and she be the romantic chase. Drama, comedy, buddy: Lesslie's a three tool actress, who know how to use 'em all. I've got a lotta respect for her.

Well-p, time to go fishin'. Me, my dad, his two brothers from Wisconsin are going to Westport, WA to catch salmon. One day vaccation for me, three for them. Gotta go!

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

Christina

I'll definitely see Funny People, but I'm not running to the theater. Mostly, I'm scared by its long running time. (I thought Knocked Up was also too long.) I recently saw Reign Over Me and loved Adam Sandler's weird, mentally unstable character in that. Also, Spanglish was panned by critics but I thought it was a good movie and Adam Sandler was excellent in it.

Christian H

Interesting review. Unfortunately, that isn't my cup of tea. It would be hard to see Sandler act serious after the "thing" that was Reign Over Me.

I can say I would expect that Apatow would go for a "different" take after his first few hits.

I could never understand though why even a "personal" film can't work for the demographic.

Is it that the film maker decides "this is for me?" That's silly because you can't get the money back by yourself.

My "personal" films so far are not what you would call four quadrant, but I'd bet everything on the demo I aimed at going out for it.

Anyway, I guess I'm torn between wanting every movie to do good and the type of movie he has made before not being up my alley - funny though they were at times.

And yes I agree that Leslie Mann is a totally wasted commodity. She was almost real in "Big Daddy" but the constant Hooter's jokes made me want to hit Sandler.

Judd's next film should be hers. She's definitely "paid her dues."

Ricky J

This was a great review, Billy. I actually didn't think this was too bad. I liked the buddy threesome around Seth Rogen. I liked seeing Adam play a grown-up, though still stunted. Yes, there were an astounding number of dick jokes. And while the Leslie Mann character and that storyline seemed totally out of sync, I liked the female comedian. But maybe that was more the mannerisms she brought to it than the writing?

But the one thing I completely agree with you on is that it's hard to feel sorry for this rich guy. And I think you're right that people outside of Hollywood/NY will def have trouble buying into that.

I actually loved the Eminem cameo! But I love "crying in your swimming pool" more!

Bill

I remember years ago reading a Billy Joel interview where he spoke of songs about being on the road. He more or less said, "Who in the audience wants to hear that? They're not on the road. It has nothing to do with their lives."

I think the same thing applies to novels about writers, movies about actors or directors etc. They can be done but if you don't do it exceptionally well, they don't connect. I suppose the secret is to show how, though about something the audience is unfamiliar with, life is life everywhere and the situations are the same (only different, so to speak).

As for feeling sorry for a wealthy, successful guy ... Maybe he should have watched Sullivan's Travels before making this? Just a thought - I haven't seen FP yet.

Chris

Wow. This pretty accurately captures my feelings on the film. It felt directionless for way too much of the beginning before the true story got underway.

Miserable People seemed a much better title, especially because I didn't really respect any of the characters.

They couldn't ever decide who should be the main character and so it sort of meandered throughout.

Eric C

Different theory: A lot of people didn't think Knocked Up was that funny, or people are tired of Apatow/Seth Rogen films.

My family, mostly young twenty year olds, stopped watching Pineapple Express mid-way through. And I can't find someone who liked it. Perhaps the Apatow clan got a bit overrated?

Maestro

I wonder to what extent, if any, marketing played a role here. I mean, I think it's pretty clear that this movie would, shall we say, leave some expectations unfulfilled if it was targeted toward the Apatow/Rogen/Sandler crowd.

Which, if memory serves, it was - Mark

D. D. Scott

I enjoyed your take on FP, Billy.

I'm an agented, RomCom novelist, who went from writing straight chick lit to RomCom after studying your book "Writing the Romantic Comedy".

I'm thinking Apatow was a bit off in getting to the heart of what makes us human (as you put it in your book)...those universal truths we can all relate to at some basic, almost instinctual, been-there-done-that level of recognition.

Apatow is terrific at allowing his characters to make "utter idiots of themselves" but perhaps it's that they come off as mere "idiots" instead of "idiots" "in the name of love" (or whatever other motivation chosen). That's what's missing for me.

It's okay to make a mess of some part of our human reality...that's the fun part to watch come alive on the screen... while you're sitting in your seat, thanking God it's on the film and not in your own backyard...or thanking God that evidently you're not the only one living this Hell...LOL!!!

But the mess has to be made for a darn good reason and then cleaned up for that HEA OR at least a possibility of that HEA OR a they-got-what-they-deserved-and-how- sweet-it-is-take-that-you-idiot-reckoning.

Good stuff here, Billy.

Thanks for your fabulous insight.

D. D. Scott
http://www.DDScott.com
http://twitter.com/ddscottromcom

mernitman

Ryan: Interesting. But he seems "realer" when meaner.

Jammin: Apatow is the real name, I believe, and yes, he comes from the tribe of bagels and gefilte fish.

EC: I think the Apatow deal is an "open," one, meaning: pretty much anything he wants to write.
Meanwhile, salmon fishing sounds like the perfect summer break to me.

Christina: Sandler's definitely more interesting when he plays a person with a brain.

Christian: I wish Apatow wouuld write a vehicle for his wife - maybe he'd finally deliver a 3D female protagonist.

Ricky: The Eminem scene was actually one of my favorites. And I'd like to see more of the female comedian (Aubrey Plaza).

Bill: I flashed on "Sullivan" more than a few times while watching this.

Chris: Somehow a movie called "Miserable People" just doesn't sound like box office...

Eric C: Ironically, the saturation you're feeling comes in part from so many other movies jumping on the Apatow bandwagon. But I wouldn't count his clan out, just yet.

Maestro: Kind of a damned-if-you-do-or-don't proposition, no?

Welcome, D.D.: Hope reading my book hasn't derailed your career.

D. D. Scott

Thanks for the welcome!

And LOL!!! re "derailing my career"...I'm quite adept at jumping tracks with gusto.

I'm always just a bit off but more than thrilled to be rolling to my own thunder.

Your book gave me exactly what I needed to make my ideas work within a proven path...but with that little extra steam to forge my track to success with a new hook/twist.

Thanks for that kind of empowerment.

Smiles --- D. D. Scott
http://www.DDScott.com
http://twitter.com/ddscottromcom

The Big Snake

You write:

"Some of the movie's funniest bits come from its shrewdly observed moments of the sort of comedic mean-spiritedness that dwells in the realm of show biz comedy."

And that's dead-on. I've dabbled in stand-up over the last year, and in its first 45 minutes, FP paints a really accurate portrait of that world, where telling a lame joke or the wrong joke or the right joke at the wrong time can get you ostracized in a heartbeat. The movie only hints at the inherent self-loathing and insecurity driving most comics - but, as you point out, making a movie called MISERABLE PEOPLE probably wouldn't draw a crowd.

mernitman

D.D. you're so welcome.

Hey Big Snake: Other than being in the military, it's gotta be one of the toughest gigs there is. Right?

The Big Snake

Yes, stand-up is very tough. But here's the one solid upside that keeps people like me coming back to it: unlike screenwriting, I don't have to wait around for months (or years) for an agent or a manager or a lawyer or a studio or an actor to tell me what I've written is good. The audience tells me right away. And often what I've written is not good - and the silence can be brutal - but the immediate gratification of that laughter when it comes is so rewarding, so envigorating, it's nearly impossible to walk away from once you've experienced it.

mernitman

Big S: Instant feedback! Nothing like it.

Ben

I share your sentiments exactly. I was right in the middle of my like/dislike of this film. I'm glad I watched it, but like you said, it was way too long. Could have had more of an effect I think if they would have just gotten there a bit quicker. But it was still a fun movie. Your write ups are always dead on.

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