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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Judd Apatow
Cast:
Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill, Eric Bana, Jason Schwartzman
Writing Credits:
Judd Apatow

Synopsis:
Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann star in this seriously funny film from writer-director Judd Apatow. When famous comedian George Simmons (Sandler) is given a second chance at a new beginning, he and his assistant, a struggling comedian, Ira (Rogen), return to the places and people that matter most…including the stand-up spots that gave him his start and the girl that got away (Mann). Co-starring Jonah Hill, Eric Bana and Jason Schwartzman, it’s the film critics cheer is “uproariously funny!” (Sonny Bunch, The Washington Times)

Box Office:
Budget
$70 million.
Opening Weekend
$22.657 million on 3007 screens.
Domestic Gross
$51.814 million.

MPAA:
Rated NR

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
English DVS Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 146 min. (theatrical cut)
153 min. (unrated edition)
Price: $39.98
Release Date: 11/24/2009

Bonus:
Disc One:
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Judd Apatow and Actors Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen
• “U-Control” Interactive Feature
• “Funny People Diaries” Documentary
• “Line-O-Rama” Parts 1 and 2
• “Gag Reel” Parts 1 and 2
• Both Theatrical and Unrated Versions
Disc Two:
• Deleted Scenes
• Extended and Alternate Scenes
• Three Documentaries
• Four “Music” Clips
• Four “Stand Up” Segments
• “From the Archives”
• “The Films of George Simmons”
• “1990 Prank Calls”
• “Adam and Judd on Charlie Rose
• “Yo Teach…!” Clips
• “Kids on the Loose: The Sequel”
• “ADR Line-O-Rama”
• “George in Love”
• Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Funny People [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 7, 2010)

Any film written/directed by Judd Apatow and starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen should make a good $51 million its opening weekend. However, it turned out that 2009’s Funny People - a flick that matched the criteria listed above – collected only $51 million during its entire theatrical run, which made it a box office disappointment.

The first two films Apatow directed – 2005’s 40-Year-Old Virgin and 2007’s Knocked Up - passed the $100 million mark. Neither of those featured a bankable star. With the addition of box-office draw Sandler to co-star with Rogen – now an actor on the verge of true stardom - People looked like a sure-fire hit.

Alas, such success never came, possibly because it was a darker experience than its two predecessors. People introduces us to a famous comedian named George Simmons (Sandler). He discovers that he suffers from a potentially terminal disease – and he also has no one close to him to help him deal with this. George has remained distant from his family and he also lacks any intimate pals or girlfriends.

In the midst of a serious bout of depression, George plays a dark set at a comedy club. There he sees young aspiring comic Ira Wright (Rogen). George needs some jokes for an upcoming gig and recruits Ira to write them. This launches a relationship between the two that becomes deeper as the film progresses, especially when George attempts to reunite with his long-lost girlfriend Laura (Leslie Mann), now a married mother of two.

As I mentioned earlier, People seemed ripe to become a major success. Why did it sputter? I suspect one problem stemmed from the public’s apparent disinterest in Serious Sandler. Like Jim Carrey, Sandler scores big bucks when he appears in goofball comedies. When he attempts something more dramatic, he tanks.

And make no mistake: People favors drama over comedy. Not that this means it lacks humor, for it’s actually pretty funny. However, it favors the dramatic side of things, and it forces Sandler to play a real person.

Which he does pretty well. It might help that Sandler plays a (presumably) more emotionally impaired version of himself, but he nonetheless pulls off the role in a convincing manner. I suspect a lot of people think Sandler is just a lowest common denominator moron, but performances like this show that he has real talent. George becomes Sandler’s best dramatic performance. He did seem awkward in the past, as he appeared unable to really let go of his bread and butter shtick. However, Sandler shows true range as George and he turns in a convincing, effective piece of work.

But if the people don’t want to see that side of Sandler, it doesn’t matter. I hope that Sandler will continue to showcase a broader range of performances. I actually like his comedic work – some of the time, at least – but I think he can make the transition into less goofy performances well if the public will allow him to do so.

While it appears that the general audience doesn’t embrace Sandler’s dramatic side, I clearly like him in that way. I also think People gives us an intriguing glimpse of the showbiz scene and provides an interesting framework for its story. People doesn’t give us the most creative basic plot, as we’ve seen plenty of movies that feature protagonists dissatisfied with their lives who attempt to rejigger things. However, the take on the comedy scene and that side of things enlivens the tale and makes it more involving.

In addition to Sandler, the rest of the cast succeeds. Apatow movies always include solid supporting performers. Rogen comes across as more likable and endearing than he has in a while, and Mann – Apatow’s real wife – gives us a rich turn as the conflicted Laura. Eric Bana also manages an interesting performance as her manic, cheating husband, and we find a series of fun cameos as well.

So People clearly has a lot going for it, but I can’t call it a total success. Like all Apatow movies, People simply runs too darned long. Apatow just doesn’t know when to say when, so his films go on and on past the point of healthy returns.

At almost two and a half hours, People is the longest of the bunch, and the running time becomes a definite problem. Too much of the flick feels repetitive. At its heart, People tells a pretty simple relationship story, so it doesn’t need to drive home its themes quite as heavily. It easily could lose 30 to 40 minutes and we wouldn’t even notice. The extra time makes the movie drag; we can tell where it’s going, and we become impatient for it to get there.

Heck, even when we’re not sure where the tale will lead, we become impatient. Apatow does ensure that many entertaining bits will come along the way, and the movie never really threatens to lose us. Nonetheless, the extended running time makes us less involved than we should be. Too many sequences become redundant and repetitive.

I still like Funny People and find it to be enjoyable. That was true for Virgin and Knocked Up as well, two other entertaining movies that would’ve worked even better with shorter running times. There’s enough quality on display for People to work, but don’t be surprised if you get a bit tired along the way.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus A+

Funny People appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This became a decent but inconsistent presentation.

Sharpness appeared acceptable but not great. Softness was never a major concern, but I thought the movie didn’t always display particularly good detail. The movie tended to be reasonably concise and that was about it. Moiré effects and jagged edges presented no concerns, and edge enhancement remained absent. A handful of specks showed up during the film, but no major source defects appeared.

In terms of colors, the flick went with a moderately subdued set of tones. Hues stayed on the natural side, with a mild golden feel to things. Within those parameters, the tones looked fine. Blacks were dark and firm, while shadows appeared clear and well-developed. The image seemed generally good, but the occasional softness and the sporadic specks made it a “B-“.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it offered a functional effort and that was all. Of course, I didn’t expect a dazzling soundfield from this sort of drama/comedy, and I got exactly what I anticipated. In terms of effects, general ambience ruled the day. Surround usage stayed limited; the back speakers gently fleshed out various settings but did little more than that. Airport locations added some zip, and crowd scenes used the channels acceptably well. That was about the extent of the soundscape, though.

In those forward channels, the music provided nice stereo separation and opened up the mix reasonably well. There wasn’t a whole lot of activity or movement, but the effects conveyed a passable sense of space and place. The track functioned appropriately for the story.

Audio quality appeared fine. Dialogue was consistently warm and natural; I heard a little edginess at times but nothing serious. Effects were a minor component of the mix, and they seemed appropriately subdued and accurate; there wasn’t much to hear, but the various elements were clean and distinct. The music came across as the best part of the track, as the songs and score were pretty lively and full. This was a decent reproduction of the material.

Plenty of extras show up here. On Disc One, we start with an audio commentary from writer/director Judd Apatow and actors Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at cast, characters and performances, sets and locations, story areas, influences and real-life inspirations, and a few other production areas.

I think virtually all prior Apatow commentaries worked quite well, and this one continues that trend. Indeed, it might be the best of the bunch, though those with a desire for a strictly screen-specific affair will feel disappointed. This track goes off onto many tangents, especially when it delves into stories about Sandler and Apatow’s early years together. I think those moments are entertaining and fun; they add a lot to the experience and help make this a thoroughly delightful chat.

The disc includes both the movie’s theatrical and unrated versions. The latter adds about seven minutes to an already long running time. Though I saw People theatrically, I don’t know it well enough to clearly identify the extra footage. I think we find extensions to existing sequences and more stand-up; I don’t believe anything essential enters the film.

This means the extended cut works about the same as the theatrical one. Granted, People was too long in its original rendition, so another seven minutes doesn’t sound like a good thing. Nonetheless, it’s not that much footage, so it doesn’t do anything to harm the flick. I like the fact that the disc includes the option to see either cut, though maybe Apatow needs to include more severely edited versions of his films; I’d like to see how a 120-minute People works.

Like many other Universal Blu-rays, Funny People includes the U-Control Interactive Feature. This offers tidbits that pop up as you watch the movie. In this case, we look at “Funny People Music”. This simply provides writing/performing/publishing credits for the songs that appear throughout the movie. I usually enjoy “U-Control”, but this iteration seems pretty dull; it’d work better if it threw in trivia about the tunes or something more than what we get.

Called Funny People Diaries, a four-part documentary lasts one hour, 15 minutes and six seconds. It includes notes from Apatow, Rogen, Sandler, director of photography Janusz Kaminski, Improv owner Budd Friedman, musician Jon Brion, music supervisor Jonathan Karp, production designer Jefferson Sage, producer Barry Mandel, editor Brent White, sound editor George Anderson, and actors Jonah Hill, Aubrey Plaza, Eric Bana, Andy Dick, Iris and Maude Apatow, Jason Schwartzman, and Aziz Ansari. The “Diaries” cover the film’s origins and development, writing the script and getting into the stand-up, rehearsals and performances, cinematography and music, sets, post-production and specific elements of the shoot.

While “Diaries” follows the production roughly in chronological order, but it tends to be more “fly on the wall” than most. This means a lot of footage from the set and not a ton of talking head shots. I think “Diaries” strikes a good balance, as it offers enough comments to keep us informed. It becomes an insightful, enjoyable journey through the production, and all the archival footage of the participants in younger days is delightful.

A staple of Apatow releases, we get the usual Line-O-Rama collection. Actually, we find two of these: Part 1 (4:53) and Part 2 (5:45). “Line-O-Rama” shows alternate takes, usually for scenes that made the final flick; that means these aren’t really deleted scenes but instead they’re unused readings. These are consistently amusing and they offer a great addition to the set.

We also get the standard Gag Reel, though it also splits into two parts. These run five minutes, 52 seconds and five minutes, 20 seconds, respectively. Usually I hate blooper collections, but the ones found for Apatow movies tend to be more entertaining because they include additional alternate takes. We do find plenty of giggles, but we get enough unique material to make the reels entertaining.

As we head to Disc Two, we begin with many cut sequences. Deleted Scenes (48:24) provides 24 pieces, while Extended and Alternate Scenes (1:06:19) adds another 20 segments. Normally I like to list the titles of the unused clips, but that ain’t happening with 44 of them to document.

One certainly can’t criticize this set in regard to quantity; with nearly two hours of footage on display, this is possibly the biggest collection of cut scenes I’ve ever found. In terms of quality, we find plenty of good material, especially among the “Deleted Scenes”. We see George’s reprise of prank phone calls as therapy, and we meet Ira’s parents.

Overall, there’s not much that would’ve fleshed out the story, but the tidbits do add to the experience – in isolation, at least. Given the movie’s length, the additional footage would’ve been deadly, but seen in these collections, the material proves to be quite enjoyable. There’re plenty of amusement and interesting moments here.

Within the “Extended/Alternate Scenes”, our options are a bit more limited. Much of the running time comes from the visits George had when he thought he was dying. Some are fun, while others get old. I do love the additional shots of Eminem telling off Ray Romano, and Romano and Ira have a hilarious conversation as well. “George/Ira Montage” ends things with what amounts to almost an alternate ending, though I suspect it would’ve preceded the scene that actually concludes the film. It shows George’s attitude toward acting after all that happened to him, and it’s an interesting scene.

Under “Documentaries”, we get three clips. Raaaaaaaandy! goes for 21 minutes, 32 seconds and views the movie’s Randy character as a real person being propelled to fame via his Funny People cameo. A little Randy goes a long way, so this segment might be a little too much at once, but it’s still very funny. Randy’s such a relentlessly unamusing character that his shtick becomes perversely entertaining.

We head to the past for Judd’s High School Radio Show. In this three-minute, 37-second piece, Apatow talks about how he interviewed well-known comics back in his teen days. We hear some cool clips and learn a lot in this fun program.

“Documentaries” finishes with the six-minute, 55-second James Taylor Behind the Scenes. We get remarks from Apatow, Sandler, Rogen and musician James Taylor as they discuss his part of the movie. Expect a nice mix of details from this short but interesting featurette.

Within “Music”, four more pieces appear. James Taylor Live fills 27 minutes, 21 seconds with six performances shot for the film. We find “Fire and Rain”, “Carolina in My Mind”, “Shower the People”, “Secret O’ Life”, “You’ve Got a Friend” and “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely”. I can’t stand Taylor’s somnambulant music, so this extra leaves me cold, but fans will enjoy the high-quality pro-shot renditions of the tunes.

Three more performances come to us via Adam and Jon Brion. This 14-minute, 15-second reel features Sandler (as George)/Brion renditions of “Photograph”, “Real Love” and “Save It For Later”. Like the Taylor footage, none of these do much for me, but I think they become a cool addition.

George Will Soon Be Gone lasts four minutes, 41 seconds. It offers a complete rendition of George’s Improv tune. It works better in its shorter movie version, but it’s nice to get the whole thing here.

We leave “Music” with RZA Podcast. It goes for three minutes, 49 seconds and includes notes from Apatow, Rogen, and actor RZA. The show gives us notes about RZA’s character and performance. It’s too short to tell us much, but it includes a few good details.

With that, we zoom to the “Stand Up” and its four components. Funny People Live lasts 42 minutes, 16 seconds and includes notes from Apatow, Rogen and Sandler. They discuss the flick and promote it, but most of the material comes from movie clips and the stand-up bits shown in the film. Some of this repeats from other areas, but a fair amount of new tidbits appear here, some from performers not found elsewhere. The redundant elements make “Live” a little frustrating, but the exclusive parts make it worthwhile.

George Stand Up: My Space runs eight minutes, four seconds. It showcases George’s entire performance at the My Space gig. Like the “Music” segments, not all of it flies, but I like the fact that we get to check out the whole set.

Two connected clips end this area. We see Randy Stand Up – The Improv (5:47) and Ira Stand Up – The Improv (7:02). Since we find most of Randy’s jokes in “Raaaaaaandy!”, so that area’s a bit redundant. Ira’s set is more fun because it’s fresher.

This leads us to “From the Archives” and its six components. These include Adam and Judd on The Midnight Hour with Bill Maher – 8/28/90 (1:00), Adam’s First Letterman Appearance – 4/4/91 (5:59), Adam’s Second Letterman Appearance – 9/10/91 (6:01), Adam at Comedy and Magic Club – 1988 (4:45), Seth Stand Up at Age 13 – 1995 (4:41) and Judd on The Dennis Miller Show – 1992 (4:52). We got parts of some of these the “Video Diaries”, but this still offers a treasure trove of old tidbits. I’d forgotten how funny Sandler was back in the early 90s; his Letterman appearances are bizarre and hilarious. The cool thing? Seeing the clip from 1988 shows how much he improved over three years. He’s pretty awful in 1988, whereas he’s much more confident and clever in 1991.

It’s also great to see Apatow and Rogen, partially because we never see them as stand-ups. Rogen is pretty terrible, but it’s still cool to see him, especially since his pubescent personality is pretty close to his adult one. Apatow isn’t great either, but I like this glimpse of his onstage self. Plus, we see a few jokes that ended up in the movie; he’s still using 1992 material in 2009!

Also viewed briefly in the final flick, The Films of George Simmons provides better glimpses of that character’s movies. We look at Re-Do (1:31), Sayonara Davey (2:41), Merman (1:32), The Champion (0:20) and Dog’s Best Friend (0:40). Some of these offer extended looks at bits in Funny People, while others are exclusive here; this is the only place to discover Davey and Friend. With its absurdly politically incorrect humor and a cameo from The Hangover’s Ken Jeong, it’s a riot. Actually, all of these intentionally cheesy flicks are delightful.

Additional archival material shows up under Prank Calls – 1990. This 18-minute, 23-second compilation provides five of Sandler’s goofy phone calls from 1990. I can’t say these do much to amuse me, but they’re still another nice addition to the package.

A new interview shows up via Adam and Judd on Charlie Rose - 7/31/09. It lasts 56 minutes, 54 seconds as Apatow and Sandler discuss their early days together and facets of their relationship as well as elements related to Funny People. Even after the commentary and all the other extras, I can’t get enough of the Apatow/Sandler dynamic, and they continue to engage here. I love the info about the old days, and the insights into the movie add new details as well.

I like the fact that Rose isn’t afraid to challenge his subjects as well. No, he doesn’t attack them in any way, but he brings up detractors and criticisms as part of the interview; that viewpoint gives the show more of an edge. I didn’t think this program could add much, but it does.

Two elements appear under “Yo Teach…!”. Behind the Scenes goes for eight minutes, eight seconds and acts as a promotional featurette for the non-existent series. Ala “Raaaaaaaandy!”, it gives us notes from “Mark Taylor Jackson” and others who provide thoughts about the program. It’s a funny spoof, especially when Ernest Thomas – best known from What’s Happening - goes ballistic.

Episodes runs a total of 13 minutes, 13 seconds as it presents five clips. Obviously none of these show full episodes of the nonexistent Teach series, but we get snippets of different programs. These become an entertaining extra.

We look at Apatow’s daughters in Kids on the Loose: The Sequel. This lasts five minutes, six seconds as we watch Apatow try to direct his girls. They get a bit out of control on the set, which makes this an amusing compilation.

More unused takes show up under ADR Line-O-Rama. As implied, this two-minute, 50-second reel provides additional gags; the difference is that they’re invented in the recording studio. They continue to entertain.

In addition to the film’s trailer, Disc Two finishes with George in Love. The two-minute, four-second clip gives us outtakes from the scenes in which George bangs two groupies. Like the other unused snippets, it’s good to see.

Although the public failed to embrace Funny People, I think it’s a pretty good movie. Yes, it runs too long and drags at times, but it melds comedy and drama in a satisfying mix. The Blu-ray comes with erratic visuals, decent audio and a truly exhaustive collection of supplements. Judd Apatow fans will want to give this one a look.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.75 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main