Melancholy People: This is a much better description of writer-producer-director Judd Apatow's third directorial effort: Funny People (R). In it, Adam Sandler plays George Simmons, a paunchy, self-absorbed funnyman who spends his spare time watching his old movies and stand up routines. When Simmons finds out he has a terminal illness, he decides to grace the public with a surprise appearance at a comedy club after a 5-year hiatus. Also there, that night, is rising star Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) with whom George becomes "smitten" with and hires him to write George's comedy acts.
The relationship between George and Ira is an interesting one but one that really could have been even more fleshed out. As Ira becomes more and more confident, it seems as if George becomes more and more unstable; hard to do especially considering he appears unstable from the get-go.
The film also stars Leslie Mann (wife of Judd Apatow) as George's ex-fiancee, Eric Bana (as the lucky husband) and Jonah Hill & Jason Schwartzman as Ira's roommates.
The first half of the film is a mess and rarely funny or even comical (incluing the stand-up bits) but the second half shows surprising vigor but it's still not all that funny. It's a sad state of affairs when James Taylor has the best line in the movie. After Ira asks James if he ever tires of singing the same songs over and over, James responds, "Do you ever get tired of talking about your penis?" A good question for a comedian, which is a profession in which one sometimes does the same routine ad nauseum.
Sandler has never fared the best in his dramatic roles (Punch Drunk Love, Reign Over Me) and this film is no exception; he's much more adept when he is loose and going for the comedy.
The film could have been so much better and while it's not Apatow's best "comedy", more like a DRAmedy, it is entertaining and Mann has by far the best role. There are also several neat cameos; in addition to Taylor there are also brief appearances by Andy Dick, Paul Reiser, Ray Romano and Eminem.
This is more a DVD movie, although it's easier to fall asleep at home.
Bags of popcorn (out of 5): 2