Funny People

Year Released: 2009
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Starring: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Eric Bana, Leslie Mann, Aziz Ansari
Production Company: Universal Pictures
Release Date: July 31, 2009

Judd Apatow always brings in the laughs, Funny People is no different.

George Simmons (Adam Sandler) is the mega rich, mega funny and mega shallow movie star that climbed the rings of comedy to become king. George is distanced from everyone and everything due to his enormous wealthy, and when he’s diagnosed with an interminable disease finds he’s at a loss for human contact. Reaching out, he finds Ira (Seth Rogen) an up and coming comedian who works days in a deli and struggles to find his niche in stand up. The two find each other, and both seemed destined to give each other what they sorely need: George needs someone to confide in, and Ira needs his big break.

“Let’s eat turkey in a big brown shoe!”

Apatow stands out in the comedy category for one reason: he weighs down his comedy with some real meat. There’s too many romantic comedies that skip over real issue and contain so much filler and uninteresting characters we bypass them and they end up in the bargain DVD bin. Funny People, stands out as one that’s willing to give us more meaning, and be more about the people, than it is the funny.

Adam Sandler has been bringing his A game the last few movies. I was getting a little bored with his Happy Madison days, and the sophomoric, elegant side he’s been showing with Rein Over Me and Punch Drunk Love (old reference, I know) is starting to show some shine.

“I gotta tellya Eric, ‘Troy’ was terrible”

An interesting balance is always struck with Seth Rogen; he’s naturally funny and the lines he spouts out with his commanding voice are well timed and on-spot. His comedy fodder seems to get bigger with each picture. I have mixed expectations of his up and coming Green Hornet movie myself. For now, I’ll revel in his funny nature.

Funny People manages to hit some high notes and keeps us entertained all the way through. Apatow gets better with each film, this one by far is his most mature to date.

8.0 out of 10

Year One

Year Released: 2009
Directed by: Harold Ramis
Starring: Jack Black, Michael Cera, Hank Azaria, David Cross, Possibily Jesus
Production Company: Sony Pictures Entertainment
Release Date: June 19, 2009

Year One is a reminder never to take our religion too seriously. It also reminds us that Jack Black plays the same damn character in every movie. Thanks to Michael Cera’s awkward teenager role lifted directly from his Arrested Development days, the two manage to squeeze out some laughs, but the movie never really gains any momentum.

Hey! Did you catch Bill Hader?

Zed (Black), and Oh (Cera) are Hunters and Gatherers (respectively) for their small village. Zed is a failure at his job, and Oh simply wants to obey his carnal lusts for Eema (Juno Temple), yet fawns for her at a distance. Zed one day, has the bright idea to eat from the tree forbidden tree of knowledge. With his mind awakened, he and Oh are promptly exiled from the village. Zed in his slow, somber retreat accidental torches the village, burning it to the ground, causing his ex-tribe members to be imprisoned by the guards of Sodom. Zed and Oh travel the lands with Zed’s new-found knowledge in search of Zed’s destiny. You need to think less Life of Brian, and more Superbad; the script certainly has an impromptu feel, yet doesn’t distract too much from the main themes.

Jack Black has worked a long time in Hollywood, and for some reason he keeps getting plum roles where he gets to show up, shout some obscenities and never develop a real character. Michael Cera keeps getting jobs on his teen character, speaking to his chest more often than putting his forward emotions on screen. It certainly works in his favor, as Oh is more at home given intricate moments of inflection such as “I saved a life with my love making”. At least these guys looked like they were having fun filming, with a subject like religion he tongue-in-cheek humor bodes well with both personalities.

Golden Shower just took on a whole new meaning.

Year One at times felt more B-Movie quality, which was supposed to be played off as campy. Most of the humor comes from physical comedy, even observations (lady armpit hair, women’s eyeliner) or the circumcision loving Abraham (played by Hank Azaria). It also seemed a little foolish to have yet another aimless comedic duo start out wandering from forest to desert, only to find their true calling. Call me crazy, but is Hollywood really pandering that much to the generation that’s still spinning it’s tires?

The genre can withstand shtick, should it be awesomely funny as “Life of Brian”, or more ho-hum as “Year One” puts it. On the scale, “Year One” land between mediocrity and an eyebrow raise.