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George Simmons is a famous stand-up comedian who learns that he has a terminal illness and less than a year to live. When, he meets Ira, a struggling comedian at a comedy club where both the comedians are performing, George hires Ira to be his personal assistant and opening act at his performances. The two forge a close friendship as George helps Ira with his career and Ira helps George find closure in his legacy. However, when George learns that his disease has gone into remission and an ex-girlfriend re-enters his life, he's inspired to reevaluate what is important to him and what truly gives meaning to his life.
For more about Funny People and the Funny People Blu-ray release, see Funny People Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on November 23, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman
Director: Judd Apatow
» See full cast & crew
Funny People Blu-ray Review
Apatow's most personal production delivers in high definition...
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, November 23, 2009
There's an important thing to keep in mind while watching writer/director Judd Apatow's fourth feature film: it's not called Funny Movie, it's called Funny People. That's not to say his sharp wit and memorable dialogue have been diluted, or that Funny People is without laughs. Quite the contrary, his script is smartly penned and terribly amusing, his actors' performances are infectious, and his narrative is ripe with genuine comedy. However, for once, earning laughter isn't Apatow's primary motivation. His film is intensely personal; an unrelenting examination of mortality, regret, and happiness told through a series of tragic circumstances. He invests little time in dissecting humor, instead channeling his efforts into dissecting his characters, their behavior, and their reaction to a variety of trials and tribulations. Humor is used as a catalyst for everything that follows, while drama, in turn, encapsulates everything his disheartened comedians find funny. The results are both relevant and resonant, emotional and cerebral, distressing and satisfying.
Adam Sandler does his most searing Adam Sandler impersonation as actor George Simmons, a successful comedian who finds out he has a rare form of leukemia and little chance to live. Prescribed experimental medicine that only carries an 8% chance of improving his condition, Simmons decides to reenter the stand up comedy circuit while keeping his diagnosis a secret from his family and professional colleagues. After a particularly painful set at a local club, he meets Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), an awkward, well-intentioned funnyman who reminds the actor of his younger self. Hiring Ira to write jokes for his routines and assist him with his day to day business, Simmons eventually reveals his condition, but makes Ira promise he'll tell no one, a promise the twenty-something immediately breaks by confiding in his roommates, struggling television actors Mark Taylor Jackson (Jason Schwartzman) and Leo Koenig (Jonah Hill). Meanwhile, George decides to rekindle his love with a former flame named Laura (Leslie Mann), a married mother of two left to raise her children (Iris and Maude Apatow) every time her fast-talking husband (Eric Bana) travels out of the country. As George grows closer to Laura, Ira attempts to prevent his mentor from wrecking a family, help the grizzled comedian see the pain he's continuing to cause those he loves and come to realizations only a brush with death could afford him.
Funny People opens with a crushing blow, declaring its dramatic intentions in a single, heartwrenching diagnosis. Sandler, in turn, quickly and deftly creates two separate personas: a self-assured comedian worldwide audiences have come to love on the big screen and a vulnerable man sentenced to a slow, untimely death. He approaches both roles with the same visceral tenacity, imbuing each side of his character with his own experiences, his own successes, his own failures. It's a disquieting, honest performance that feels real from the first moment Simmons' confidence wanes in his doctor's office. Rogen, naive and wide-eyed as his Ira Wright may be, matches Sandler with equal sincerity. He allows Ira to naturally develop as both an upstart comedian and as a battle-worn friend, and his self-effacing innocence is refreshing rather than forced. Apatow, despite being hidden away behind the camera, completes the trio, populating his story with convincing characters (which Sandler and Rogen's supporting cast, particularly Mann, transform into living, breathing souls), authentic comedy born from hardship rather than situational convenience, and heartache that simmers instead of boiling over. His script rings true on almost every occasion, and his plotting seems logical and inevitable. Don't misunderstand, very little about Apatow's story is predictable, but its momentum and plot progression seem to stem from the characters' lives, not the screenwriter's pen.
Prevailing criticism of Funny People has been limited to two issues: its runtime and its pacing. But while a two-and-a-half hour dramedy certainly tips the scales, Apatow never lost me, never bored me, never made me wish I was doing anything other than watching his heartfelt narrative unfold. In fact, my lone complaint with the film doesn't involve either one. The third act has as much direction and purpose as the first two, but the last fifteen minutes fizzle. Perhaps Apatow didn't know how to end such a personal story. Maybe he wanted to leave things open, to challenge each viewer to come to their own conclusions. Whatever the case, it's a decidedly disappointing denouement that does the one thing Funny People didn't do in its first two hours: serve up a contrived, oh-so-ordinary plot point; an ending that, quite honestly, belongs in a lesser film. Still, Apatow's fourth feature is a strong one. It's not often that a filmmaker delivers such a careful, pitch-perfect blend of comedy and drama while tackling such familiar life and death scenarios. He not only examines a withered husk of a man searching both past and present for answers to life's most difficult questions, he asks his audience to consider their own lives and evaluate their own priorities. But through it all, the laughter and the tears alike, he presents a touching, poignant story worthy of all the attention and praise it's received. Not everyone will enjoy the film as much as I did (some will like it less, some will like it more), but I'm glad I didn't let this one pass by me in the night.
Funny People Blu-ray, Video Quality
Funny People arrives on Blu-ray with a faithful 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer that looks every bit as good as a film shot by longtime Spielberg collaborator and Oscar-winning cinematographer Janusz Kaminski (Schindler's List, Minority Report, Munich) should. While desaturated colors and moderate grain dominate the presentation, both lend the picture dramatic punch and legitimacy; while raw lighting and oppressive shadows rule many a nighttime scene, both grant Apatow's production a haunting, filmic appearance. In essence, what it lacks in aesthetic polish, it boasts in artistic nuance. Thankfully, Universal's technical efforts are respectful of Kaminski's vision. Detail is surprisingly sharp, definition is crisp, and textures are refined and revealing. Moreover, contrast is strong (albeit a tad hot at times) and black levels are well-resolved. I wouldn't call the image three-dimensional, but depth is rarely an issue and only seems shortchanged during some of Sandler and Rogen's live stand up performances. Likewise, I wouldn't call the image clean -- the aforementioned grain can be quite inconsistent and aggressive -- but digital anomalies only pop up in a handful of brief instances (the most noticeable of which occurs in a split-second shot during Sandler and Bana's outdoor tussle). Otherwise, artifacting, banding, noise, aliasing, and smearing are nowhere to be found, and shimmering and ringing, though present, aren't significant distractions.
As it stands, I doubt anyone other than the most discerning cinephiles will declare Funny People's oft-times bleak cinematography to be a thing of beauty. However, the merits of Universal's technical transfer are many, and the studio should be commended accordingly. I for one am pleased with the results.
Funny People Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is impressive as well. Yes, frequent conversations anchor the majority of the soundscape to the center channel, creating a front-heavy experience, and yes, quiet scenes are far more abundant than sonic showcases, but the mix exudes realism from beginning to end. Empty rooms sound sufficiently empty, crowded performance halls fill the rear speakers with murmuring audience members, intimate backstage greenrooms seem as small and cramped as they appear. However, it's due to more than a series of convincing ambient effects and acoustic subtleties. Directionality is nearly impeccable, pans are natural, and LFE output is reserved but on task at all times. Voices, vehicles, and scuffles are weighty, and Sandler and Rogen's exchanges, whether whispered or shouted, are clear and nicely prioritized. Archive footage and low-key comedy club scenes suffer from normalization issues, background noise, and occasional hiss, but I suspect Apatow used each to enhance the tone of the film. Similarly, several locations -- specifically an airport, an examination room, and a Hollywood bar -- sound a tad stagey, but not enough to overly detract from the overall experience.
Ultimately, Funny People's DTS-HD Master Audio track isn't going to turn heads by any means. What it will do is win attentive listeners over with its believable design, enveloping soundfield, and technical excellence.
Funny People Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Funny People not only includes both the theatrical and unrated cuts of the film, it boasts two BD-50 discs packed with a seemingly endless supply of supplemental content. Sure, it's exhausting to plow through everything in one sitting, but the volume and quality of the features justify the set's pricepoint, offer fans eleven-plus hours of additional material (most of which is presented in high definition), and give Apatow and his cast numerous opportunities to discuss their personal investment in the film and detail the challenges they faced along the way.
Funny People Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Funny People is a fantastic film whose only misstep involves a disconnected, somewhat anticlimactic endgame. Still, regardless of its closing woes, I can't help but recommend it to any Apatow, Sandler, or Rogen fan. Funny, poignant, and moving, it features a smart mix of comedy and drama sure to leave quite an impression. Universal's 2-disc Blu-ray edition is just as compelling. It offers a faithful video transfer, a convincing DTS-HD Master Audio track, and a massive collection of supplemental content. Be sure to set aside some quality time this holiday weekend to dig through this one.
Funny People: Other Editions
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Funny People Blu-ray, News and Updates
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By all indications, 'The Da Vinci Code' was a box office smash. While top critics almost universally panned the film, the controversy surrounding the film's fictitious subject matter (and its subsequent validation through opposition) helped generate over $750M ...
• Apatow to Make Appearance on Funny or Die - November 17, 2009
In conjunction with the November 24th Blu-ray release of 'Funny People', director Judd Apatow will make an appearance on comedy website Funny or Die to promote the release. Tomorrow, Wednesday November 18th from 12:30-1:00PM PST, Apatow will answer viewer-submitted ...
• Universal Details Funny People Blu-ray Release - October 28, 2009
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'Funny People', which is scheduled to hit store shelves on November 24th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Both the theatrical and ...
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