Saturday, 5 September 2009

Of Funny People

Funny People, the new film from Judd Apatow. Aptly named Funny People, even if it isn't actually a laugh a minute fun fest, it is about Funny People. Now if you go in expecting a fun fest you will be sorely dissapointed. You need to know that Funny People front and foremost is a drama film with the humour coming more from the stand up comedy sections and the "funny peoples" reactions to real worldly events. As apposed to something larger than life happening and comedy being drawn from that.

So is Funny People actually any good? For about and hour and a half/two hours yes it is. But it's the last act of the movie, or as many people have pointed out "when the second movie starts" it just gets boring and tedious. If a movie can sustain a two and a half hour run time then by all means do it. The Boat That Rocked could but only because of a large ensemble cast and the bittiness of the plot. Sadly Funny People can't, there are only two main actors with the other actors more or less being segregated into either half of the movie with a maybe a few cameos in the other. My main point of contention is that the first half of the film is EASILY a 9/10. It's a superb look inside the lives of comedians with the humour coming from realistic places even in the face of the drama that is occurring in their lives that it's such a shame that the second half quite frankly doesn't work, probably about a 6/10, for reasons I'll move onto later.

The main plot of the film follows George Simmons (Adam Sandler) a famous comedian, who is diagnosed with a life threatening disease. So following his diagnosis begins to try and get back to his roots and why he became a comedian in the first place. This means doing stand-up. It's here he meets Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) and aspiring comedian who eventually get's hired to be Simmons' assistant who is to write all his jokes and help him with the disease. Through this Simmons discovers what he missed in his life, his ex-fiance, Laura (Leslie Mann) who he convinces doesn't love her husband (Eric Bana). However once he recovers he decides to win Laura back...*

The good points include the fact that Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen are both great leads. Both are showing amazing acting talent. Adam Sandler proves once again that he's an amazing dramatic actor as we've seen in films such as 'Punch Drunk Love' and it's a shame to see him still pushing movies like 'Bedtime Stories' rather than making some mature career choices as quite clearly he's capable to make. Seth Rogen continues to prove he isn't just an affable stoner with his performances this year in 'Observe and Report' and 'Funny People' and he proves once more that he is one of the most talented young actors in Hollywood. The supporting cast to is great, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman and Aubrey Plaza are all great as up and coming comedians with the right level of banter between the characters and that trademark of all Apatow films, a deft ability to adlib and come up with funniness that isn't in the script. The most obvious comes from the stand-up which was entirely written by the actors and entirely filmed with only 5 or 10 minutes being in the actual film.

Judd Apatow has a good script and knows how to play to his actors strengths as he's worked with the vast majority before (in particular Seth Rogen who has been in all three of his films as well as both of the shows made before he broke out into film) so that's definitely a big plus. He also proves he can do drama very well, but honestly no one was really disagreeing with him there as anyone who's seen Freaks and Geeks can attest to. He can even write romance as we've seen in 40 Year Old Virgin, it's just such a shame that after an incredible that he doesn't do it in this movie.

So here we go onto the weaker second half. Like Michael Bay, Judd Apatow needs to be hit with the editing stick and taught to make his movies tighter. You don't need to put every single idea into a movie, just enough to not leave the audience begging for it to finish. However luckily Judd Apatow can actually make a cohesive movie around this overabundance of ideas unlike Michael Bay who could film himself taking a shit then throwing a firecracker down the toilet and call it a movie and make a billion dollars (too strong?).

As I've said the drama and comedy that stem from George Simmons disease make for a great movie, but honestly the movie should end either with him being cured and learning a life lesson from THAT or him dying from the disease and Seth Rogen going on to have a massive career afterward based on the wisdom taught to him by his mentor. Not the hour that follows Apatow being at his most self-indulgent.

Self-indulgent? I hear you ask. Yes self-indulgent. He cast his wife and two children in the roles and spends and hour of the film following them around in a far weaker portion part of the movie that seems to spend so long harking on about romance and the strength of marriage that it stands at complete odds with the first half. Yes there are occasional moments of humour but it just feels like the other (far funnier) characters are thrown out to make way for the Appatow movie. There is honestly not much need for ANYTHING following the scenes where is told the disease might be gone. You could leave the cinema then and honestly not have many questions apart from "how will Ira patch up with his friends" and "will George Simmons get his life together". But honestly questions for a good movie are far better than a film you just get bored during and spend half the time starring at your watch.

Overall if you want to see a great drama about legitimately funny people and their lives with great acting and writing then the first half of Funny People is wholeheartedly recommended. But if you get bored during long tedious scenes of nothing really going on, which ends up leading nowhere and ultimately is exceedingly unfulfilling then the second half isn't for (if it's for anyone). If Judd Apatow knew how to be less self indulgent and actually edit his movies down by about 20 minutes (see Superbad) then he'd be left with one of the best movies of the year. Sadly he's left with one that just fell at the last hurdle.


*is it sad that I've left it on a cliffhanger?

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

September 2009

Well, well, well we've hit September. Full circle in terms of school year. Still a few days left and I need to put the finishing touches to an essay (it is currently killing me) and then I should be A OK. I've read enough books this summer so if I do what I did last year I should be alright (well as long as I don't go near Maths that is).

So September normally means, yay television is back. However that's a yes and no for this year. Yes Supernatural (Season 5 is going to kick so much arse), Dollhouse, Fringe, The Office, Gossip Girl and Heroes will all be back on I'm not that excited. Yes Mad Men, True Blood and Supernatural are all amazing reasons to be happy (True Blood season finale in two weeks btw) this year feels sort of lacking mostly due to the disappointing omissions of Chuck, Lost, Pushing Daisies and Terminator. Ahh well September is awesome for more that one reason.

And this year that reason is music. So what follows is a brief look at the month ahead in music:

September 14
The Resistance - Muse = It's Muse, one of the best bands in the UK releasing what is probably one of the most anticipated releases of the year, I'm going to see them in November and I'm loving what I've heard of the album so far, so yeah you could say I'm little excited. The band definitely rock

September 15
Beggars - Thrice = This album has been out since early last month, but this marks the physical release of what currently stands as one of my favourite albums of the year (along with Manchester Orchestra and Dear Hunter). If you haven't heard it yet you should track it down, it's not as heavy as their older work and is just all around superb, heartily recommended.

The World I Want To Leave Behind - Moneen = The band who released my favourite album of the decade finally return, whilst I don't think they'll be able to top 2006's seminal 'The Red Tree' I definitely want to hear this even if I'm hearing a lot of people saying it is just a bit too overproduced, the EP was good as I'm sure this will be too.

September 21
Forget the Night Ahead - The Twilight Sad = The new album from one of the top bands in one of the top music scenes in the world, Scotland. Scotland is currently pushing forward a lot of amazing bands, in particular Frightened Rabbit and since these guys are best mates with them, you know something great is going to come out of this release (even if I preferred FR's last release to TTS's)

September 22
Daisy - Brand New = This one leaked a few days ago and has been playing almost non-stop since then and I still don't know what to think, musically it's superb and apart from a few lyrical duds ("The Champ goes down like a clown in the second round") the album is amazing, it just sounds so different to Brand New's last album 'The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me' that I was a little taken aback by how heavy the opening track Vices is, if you like god music I would definitely say check this out, whether it's one of the years best will come down to me hearing a better quality version and whether I'm still playing it in 3 months.

Unmap - Volcano Choir = I heard this one for the first time yesterday and I have to say first impressions are that it's good, not as good as Bon Iver's main project but a lot of the songs are good just lack some of the sparseness that made Bon Iver's debut album so superb.

September 29
Brand New Eyes - Paramore = Again I'm not the biggest Paramore fan but I will say that if that can make a better album than 2007's Riot! they could easily make a really great album, it's just a shame that whilst they definitely have popular support they've yet to produce a seminal album like many other bands on this list.

And whilst that might be it for September, October has releases by Weezer, Say Anything, Wolfmother, Basshunter (bleh) and Cary Brothers. So if you can't find an album you like coming out in the next two months, clearly you're not looking hard enough.

Also if you're looking for movies to go see I'd say top of your lists should be (500) Days of Summer and District 9. I should be seeing District 9 this week, so I'll have a review of that going up soon and movies that came out last month you should are The Hurt Locker, it's a war movie but like District 9 beats the crap out other awful action movies that came out over the Summer (Transformers 2, Wolverine). I also saw Funny People, and whilst in fact being a really good mix of comedy and drama when it focuses on the lives of stand up comedians it up and shits itself when it delves into a romantic plot line for the last 30 mins which just feels indulgent of Judd Apatow and had me looking at the time for when the movie will end, full thoughts by weeks... I promise.

I'll also have a review up of True Blood season 2 verily soon as there is only one episode left but I can't for the life of me think why they would wait two weeks to air it. Also WATCH MAD MEN!!! That is all.

Currently Listening To: Daisy - Brand New
Currently Watching (Movie) - District 9
Currently Reading: The Portrait of Dorian Grey