George Simmons (Adam Sandler), comic stand-up who used to make the crowds laugh, learned he is suffering from an incurable disease. At this turning point in his life, he met Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), a comic beginner who he will take under his wing.
In recent years, Judd Apatow is the rising superstar of U.S. comedy. As a director (“The 40 Year-Old Virgin”, “Knocked-Up”) or as a producer (“Superbad”, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, “Pineapple Express”), he has redrawn the map of the U.S. film comedy, whether by offering projects to confirmed actors (Will Ferrell in “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”) or by developing projects for his young colts (Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Jonah Hill). Through all his films, Judd Apatow has managed to portray in a special way the daily thirtysomethings still a little lost between the responsibilities of adult life and passions of adolescence.
Today, he works with Adam Sandler (who he met on “Don´t Mess With The Zohan”), superstar of laugh in the United States, to offer him a particularly touching role, as was able to do a few years ago P.T. Anderson with “Punch-Drunk Love”. With a subject on the world of the stand-up comedy, we could expect a hilarious movie in the tradition of his two previous opus. But this is absolutely not the case and Judd Apatow seems to touch on a turn in his career, like that one taken by Woody Allen with “Annie Hall”, that is to say the passage of a film essentially comic to films more autobiographical and introspective.
In this regard, we can already consider “Funny People” as a documentary about the world of the stand-up comedy. An environment where aspiring actors are both in competition (to one who will make the audience laugh) and in collaboration (writing tips, mutual emulation and improvisation over sketches of the previous artist). Some of them even live in roommate, while hoping have success and leave the others.
It is this success that George Simmons, played by Adam Sandler, has managed to reach. But the discovery of his illness, he realizes the emptiness of his existence and takes the full measure of his loneliness. This will bring him to link to Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) and his roommates, reflections of his past life which he seems to have a nostalgic look. However, we note that, unlike previous Judd Apatow movies where the protagonists became increasingly accomplice, the links between George and Ira are relatively distant.
For “Funny People” is a bittersweet film, that looks quite disappointed on our lives. Thus, Judd Apatow dares to give after 1h30 a new direction to his film. In it, he will show us that the existential crisis, crossed by George after his illness, will not allow him to evolve. Thus, following a miraculous recovery, we would expect that he finds redemption and seeks to give more meaning to his life. But he will repeat the same mistakes as in the past, ultimately finding themselves in the same situation at the beginning of the film.
Thus, “Funny People” can confuse by its bold structure (a duration of 2h16 with a second part arriving after 1h30) and his tone decidedly disenchanted. But by the look of tenderness that Judd Apatow posed on his characters, and the honest treatment, “Funny People” seduces slowly and insidiously.
A film that undeniably will gain at each vision.