Judd Apatow - he's a funny bastard, isn't he? Naturally, anyone with any common sense, would say "yes, yes he is" to such a question. The 40 Year Old Virgin was a seriously funny flick, with a lot of heart to it - although I had no idea from the trailer I saw in the cinema when it was about to be released. From the trailer, 40YOV looked like a poor man's American Pie cash-in for middle aged people ... thankfully I did eventually see it, and a whole world of Apatow comedy was opened up to me.
Knocked Up was, similarly, filled with jokes and raw human emotion and honesty - helped in no small amount by the casting of his real-life wife & kids in the movie ... just like he did here in his latest flick as writer/director.
However, although Funny People has a lot of raw human emotion and honest running throughout it ... but it's not as funny as 40 Year-Old Virgin or Knocked Up. Don't get me wrong, it's pretty damn funny (you'd have thought the Apatow gang would have run out of dick jokes by now, but nope, they're still going strong). Unfortunately the film indulges in Apatow-style meandering comedy too much.
Virgin and Knocked Up were both long films (for comedies anyway), especially in their extended cut forms, but Funny People is seriously long for a comedy, and feels too unrestrained - it feels flabby and in serious need of a diet. This is really the only thing harming Funny People though, I feel. For such a long running time, with this amount of raw human reality and impending-death depression, you really could use a few more jokes ... or a shorter running time with the same amount of gags.
It doesn't go for the knock-out punch that his previous two flicks have delivered, but it does an admirable job of pummelling through the full fifteen rounds (if I dare labour this boxing metaphor any longer, that's come from out of nowhere).
Character wise, however, Eric Bana plays a good loveable bastard, Leslie Mann plays a complex house wife having to balance love, life, marriage and commitment ... and then, Adam Sandler.
I've never been a fan of Sandler, I've not disliked him, but I've not been bothered to watch any Adam Sandler movie - I've seen a couple, but I've generally been "meh" about the whole Sandler thing. However, here he gives a cracking performance - the man needs to do more of this kind of raw, open and honest comedy, rather than the sort of gimmicky shite he usually does (which is sent up here in Funny People with "Re-Do" and "Merman").
Apatow fans, like myself, will most likely dig this movie ... not as much as his previous efforts, but it's easily in-line with the better quality Apatow-produced spin-offs (such as Pineapple Express, or Forgetting Sarah Marshall). If only it had entered the ring in full fighting shape, rather than being a bit pudgy around the midrift ... yep, there's that boxing metaphor again ... where did that come from today?