Just got back from Funny People, so I thought I'd write a review.
As most of you know, Funny People stars Apatow allumni Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann, along with newcomer Adam Sandler. All of the films' stars do a good job playing, well, themselves, but really, that's why you want to watch these kinds of movies. It's fun to see the actors play off each other and improvise, just as they do in this movie. However, there are some changes to the usual Apatow formula that may put some people off.
First off all, right off the bat, the tone is completely different. The lead character, rather than dealing with losing his virginity or dealing with having a baby, now has to deal with a very different kind of dilemma. He has leukemia, and a minimal chance of survival. This leads to a very different feeling film than any of Apatow's previous movies, for better or for worse.
Now, it should be said that the marketing team for this movie should be punched in the face. The self-indulgent trailer gives away not only all of this, but most of the ending as well. For those who've seen the trailer, the whole first act is robbed of any emotional impact because we know George Simmons is not going to die. I wanted desperately to feel affected by his journey, but in the back of my head I always knew that eventually he would get better. It reminds me of the Marcus Wright reveal in the Terminator Salvation trailer: it ruins the crux of the film. However, this is not a problem with the film, and it does not majorly detract from the narrative.
Like all Apatow films, there are moments in this movie that are extremely funny. All the scenes of stand-up comedy are very well done and feel natural. There is a progression with the George Simmons character in the first and second acts that is also handled well. But as soon as Leslie Mann comes into the film, the whole movie seemed to lose sight of what it wanted to be. Instead of showing a change in Adam Sandler's character, we are subjected to watching him meander with his ex-fiance and her kids for half an hour. And that's where my problems with the movie became more personal than some others may see them. The way the characters handle the prospect of what it means to have a divorce and change your life drastically like that is completely shallow and took me straight out of the film. I didn't like watching these characters that I'd grown to like make decisions like that, and it really detracted from the experience for me. However, at no point is the writing terrible, and at it's worst, the movie is still enjoyable.
I give Funny People a MATINEE.