Adam Sandler has been going through some tough times lately career wise. I'm sure he's got loads of cash still, that's a given, but his choices in films have been sub-par to say the least and haven't been delivering at the box office. At one point Sandler was the king of comedy. His films like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer, The Wa Wa Water Ba Ba Boy, and even Big Daddy were once at the top of the totem poll, but he hasn't had anything close to that level of comedy film making since then, and it's sad. I really feel for the guy. Then Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen completely took over the scene and nobody gave a shit about Sandler. Well that's basically what Funny People is about, an aging comedian who's slowly being pushed out of the scene by the new guys, which in the film happens to actually be Seth Rogen and directed by Judd Apatow.
I really took this film in as a character study of Sandlers own life and that's what made the film so interesting to me. Sandler plays George Simmons a seasoned comedian who learns that he's dying and only has a few months to live. After being shown up at the comedy club one night by an up and coming comedian Ira, played by Seth Rogen, George decides to make Ira his personal assistant as well as his friend. George pretty much tells Ira straight up that he's dying and this is why your here. Ira's ecstatic, it's his dream job. But he soon comes to find that working for the legend of comedy isn't all that it's cracked up to be as George treats Ira at times with the utmost disrespect. Other than this aspect of the story the character George really does seem based off of Sandler. There's even a running joke throughout the film about Georges older "Adam Sandler like" films that he's starred in, and the funny film posters that are just laying all around his house. One of them was even about a baby, and George played the baby.
The film was marketed as a drama which turned a lot of people off as it pretty much bombed at the box office considering the star quality it had. But I found the film to be although very serious and sad at a lot of points also very very funny. There is a lot of really great crude humor in this that really works, because these guys are comedians and that's the way they talk. The "dick" word count in this film is an ongoing theme and probably reaches to no joke around forty or fifty. The film does have a weird feeling to it at points though. I just don't understand why George treats Ira the way that he does, especially towards the end of the film which really takes a dramatic turn for the worst. I understand that he's dying, or was dying, that he's being out-shined by younger comedians, and that his family life is in the dumps. But is that a reason to be a complete miserable ass hole?? I mean George is still a multi millionaire. But I do recognize his anger. When you were once one of the best and most popular comedic actors of your time and one day you literally wake up and realize that you're being taken over by a much younger newer group of guys in Hollywood, it's gotta be tough. It's gotta be the toughest thing a guy like George or Sandler can go through, because this is what he's done his whole life, and Sandler delivers that perfectly in his performance with his depressing facial expressions, blah attitude, and his lack of enthusiastic words.
Not a lot of people may know this but Sandler and Apatow were actually roommates growing up. There's a really great heartfelt scene in the opening of the film where we see vintage home video footage of Sandler being filmed by Apatow. Sandler's on the phone making a crank call and he can't even keep it together, he's laughing so damn hard he can barely even spit out his words to finish the call. This scene already says so much to the audience about who these "funny people" really are. They're people who were born with comedic genes, people who were made to make people laugh, it's all they have, take that away from them and they got nothing. This world needs people like that. A solid 3 1/2 outa 5 stars.