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Funny People


Stars: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzmann, Aubrey Plaza, Maude Apatow, Iris Apatow, Torsten Voges

Director: Judd Apatow

Having proved himself to be a dab hand with coarse humour in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Knocked Up, writer-director Apatow shows he has an impressive serious side, too, blending credibly character-driven drama with hilarious comedy and eliciting from Sandler his finest performance.

Sandler’s comic talents haven’t deserted him, of course – as you might expect, he is very funny playing his egotistic superstar stand-up comedian character – but he’s also moving and believable as he faces death after learning he is suffering from a fatal disease.

Sandler hires aspiring comic Rogen as his assistant to write material for him and to be his general dogsbody while he comes to terms with his imminent departure. They make a splendidly entertaining double act. Not that Sandler and Rogen exactly hit it off, with Sandler telling him at one juncture,”You’re my best friend and I don’t even like you”.

Despite the introduction of impending death, the potentially depressing situation is still made to sparkle, thanks to convincing characterisation along with Apatow’s apt trademark dirty dialogue and his ability to blend crude comedy with emotionally accurate drama.

Rogen, too, is in prime comic form, splendidly supported by Hill as his pudgy would-be comedian roommate and, particularly, by Apatow’s real-life wife Mann who brings genuine depth to her character of the woman Sandler let get away, while Bana (last seen covered in makeup and trying to kill Mr Spock), is very funny indeed as Mann’s unfaithful, intemperately Australian husband.

It’s a long film but never less than very entertaining. Even those who are habitual Sandler haters (even those among the critics!) might be happily surprised.

Alan Frank

USA 2009. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour.
146 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 2, Swearing 3.

Review date: 25 Aug 2009