“Funny People” is a very good 90-minute movie wrapped inside a 140-minute indulgence. Its darkly comic take on mortality, ambition and regret marks a decidedly mature outing for writer/director Judd Apatow (“Knocked Up,” “The 40 Year Old Virgin”), but its periodic brilliance is tripped up by a filmmaker who doesn’t know when to say when.
Adam Sandler (“Bedtime Stories”) plays George Simmons, a comedy superstar recently diagnosed with a terminal illness. Despite loads of money, a sprawling mansion and an endless supply of babes eager to sleep with a celebrity, he finds little to comfort him during his ordeal.
Friendless and full of self-loathing, he hires a struggling standup comedian, Ira Wright (Seth Rogen, “Observe & Report”), to be his joke writer, personal assistant and all-around confidante.
SHARPLY OBSERVED EXAMINATION
Much of “Funny People” is a hilarious, sharply observed examination of the camaraderie and competition that distinguishes the life of comedians. But then the movie appears to collect all the excess weight that’s been shed by the newly slimmed-down Rogen. Once George learns he no longer faces a terminal disease, “Funny People” turns interminable as he tries hooking up with an ex (Leslie Mann, “17 Again”) who is now married with children.
Mann, it should be noted, is Apatow’s real-life wife, and the couple’s two daughters portray Mann’s onscreen kids. Perhaps the director was reluctant to trim scenes involving his family. Maybe he felt similarly stymied about excising the scads of unnecessary cameos from the likes of Sarah Silverman, Ray Romano and Eminem. There is much to love in “Funny People,” but there is also just too much.