Since The 40-Year-Old-Virgin in 2005, Judd Apatow has been a breath of fresh air in the comedy world. For almost five years now, Apatow has had a hand in either writing, producing and directing some of the biggest comedies to hit the screen. Most of his movies have been box office gold, such as 40-Year-Old, Superbad, Knocked Up and Pineapple Express. Of course, he has dropped some clunkers of late with Drillbit Taylor (producer) and Walk Hard (producer, writer). This year, he has produced Year One and will direct his third film, Funny People.
I tend to favor his directorial work because his comedies are so much better than the rest. Yes, they’re funny, but they also have elements of drama and are relatable. Funny People will focus on the themes of friendship and struggling with an impending disease. It will also feature more drama than Apatow’s first two films, despite the title. Adam Sandler will take another stab at drama having had success with this before, most notably with Punch-Drunk Love. Sandler, who could have easily made a quality career for himself after his critically acclaimed performance in Punch-Drunk, stuck with the brain-dead comedies and occasionally did drama, like Spanglish and Reign Over Me, the latter being particularly poor. I would hope this performance will finally put him on a proper path.
Sandler stars as George Simmons, an established and successful comedian/actor who has made a name for himself in the stand-up circuit. He gets the debilitating news that he’s suffering from a blood disorder and will die within a year. Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), a deli employee and comedian, who has grown up idolizing Simmons, befriends George when he hears of his condition. They become close and George makes Ira his assistant and teaches him the ways of a good comedian. Meanwhile, his ex-girlfriend, Laura (Leslie Mann), hears of his condition and re-establishes herself in his life as a friend. Just when George had lost all hope, he gets the startling news that he will make it. While getting close with his ex, her husband Clarke (Eric Bana) becomes extremely jealous and causes friction between him and his wife. Despite this setback, George has a new outlook on life and with the help of his friends, he tries to seek meaning and purpose within himself.
The movie also co-stars Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Aziz Ansari and RZA. Funny People is written, directed and produced by Judd Apatow and after the wonderful Knocked Up, I think Funny People might match it, though I can’t say it will top it.
Covering a whole array of issues like life, death, love and friendship, all wrapped up in a Judd Apatow bun, complete with his unique brand of humor could make this the comedy hit of the summer.
Funny People opens July 31st.