Before I plough into this review I wanted to give you a bit of background to the main participants which, after all, are the main selling point of this movie. Judd Apatow is the director and writer and is actually someone I would go out of my way to see his latest efforts. Movies like The 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up were two of the funniest movies of the last decade. Two of the lead actors, Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann, are also favourites of mine, although I have to admit that Seth Rogan continues to play Seth Rogan a little too often. Still, he's entertaining. On the flipside however I can't say there has been a single film of Adam Sandler's which I could say I am a fan of, there's always hope for a first though right...
Funny People tells the story of George and Ira. George is a very successful stand up comedian who learns that he has an untreatable blood disorder and is given less than a year to live. Ira is a struggling up-and-coming stand up comedian who works at a deli and has yet to figure out his onstage persona. One night, these two perform at the same club and George takes notice of Ira. George hires Ira to be his semi-personal assistant as well as his friend.
As you can imagine I walked into this movie with a lot of trepidation, but walked away very impressed. Acting from the leads including Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann is superb and the supporting cast, including some cameos from various actors and comediens, also do a fantastic job. While the title of this movie may make it sound like a comedic romp, that's not the case. Indeed while the characters are comediens, and there is some stand-up in the film, this is more about the characters finding themselves in times of dispair and pain.
Australian Eric Bana is also in the movie and plays a through and through Aussie - and brillaintly too. In fact it was his role that had us rolling around the floor in stitches. His commentary about Aussie Rules footy is simply sensational. When comparing AFL players to NFL he states "No fucking helmets, because they're real men see?" - classic. The AFL should use it as a promotional piece for passion about the game!
At last I have a movie starring Adam Sandler which I actually genuinely really enjoyed. Judd Apatow too has to be commended that while there is plenty of vulgarity and crassness it seems a whole lot more mature then his previous efforts with a storyline that isn't just for laughs. Funny People is quite simply, superb.
Being a comedy you don't really expect much from an audio experience but Universal have included a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (24-bit/48Khz) and it's a pretty wonderful release. Dialogue is crystal clear and while there isn't a massive use of surround sound channels they add some nice ambience at times. The music too is atmospheric and suits the movie perfectly.
Other Audio tracks on this disc include Spanish and French DTS tracks encoded at 768kbps with each providing a decent experience. The Theatrical version of the movie also includes a Descriptive Video Service which also offers comment on what is happening on-screen. Subtitles are provided in English SDH, Spanish and French and samples of the English track showed accuracy to dialogue on-screen.
Funny People Diaries (11:26/HD): Running for well over an hour this is a brilliant documentary split into four parts ("The Premise", "The Set Up", "The Punchline", "The Button") which chronicles the making of this movie. With interviews with cast and crew, this looks at the ideas behind the movie, getting the cast together, and production of the film. It really is worth your time to check this out.
Line-O-Rama Part 1 & 2 (10:39/HD): I'm not sure why this was split up into two parts, but these are a series of ad-libbed lines and alternate takes. Some of it is pretty amusing.
Gag Reel Part 1 & 2 (11:13/HD): Again, split into two parts for no apparent reason these are a series of gags and goofs from the filming which, again, thanks to the participants are pretty entertaining.
U-Control (HD): When running the theatrical version you can enable U-Control which allows you to access bonus materials while watching the movie. In the case of Funny People it seems to only show credits for the music being played.
Despite that extensive, impressive, list of extras we are only now coming to the second disc which contains a tonne of additional content.
Deleted Scenes (48:24/HD): A whopping 24 deleted scenes are presented here, and are presented in HD using the VC-1 codec. Given that the movie runs for well over two hours already it's clear these were cut for pacing, but there's still some great content here worth checking out.
Extended and Alternate Scenes (1:06:19/HD): Here we have over an hour ot extended or alternate scenes with 20 in total. As with the deleted scenes, given the length of the final cut of the movie it's clear why these were trimmed. Still, they're all good quality and worth a look as well.
Music (51:06/HD): There are four sections here; James Taylor Live (27:21/Carolina in My Mind, Shower the People, Secret O' Life, You've Got A Friend, Don't Let Me Be Lonely, Fire and Rain), Adam & Jon Brion (14:15/Photograph, Real Love, Save It For Later), George Will Soon Be Gone (4:41), and RZA Podcast (3:49).
Stand Up (1:03:09/HD): This section include "Funny People Live (Special)" which is in SD but with a runtime of 42 minutes looks at the standup in this movie, "George Stand Up - MySpace", "Randy Stand Up - The Improvisation" and "Ira Stand Up - The Improvisation" with the latter three being the stand up routines that were trimmed and appear in the movie.
From The Archives (27:14): This is a great collection of interviews and appearances on various TV shows by Adam Sandler, Seth Rogan or Judd Apatow between 1988 and 1995. This is a great demonstration about each of these comediens early beginnings - especially Seth Rogen at age 13. They are in Standard Definition but it's understandable given their age.
The Films Of George Simmons (6:45/HD): Some short clips from the fictional films by George Simmons. Some pretty amusing stuff here actually.
Prank Calls - 1990 (18:23): Five prank calls as featured at the start of the movie are available here in full. Very funny.
"Yo Teach...!" (21:16/HD): A "fake" look at the fake TV show that appears in the movie including over 13 minutes of scenes from the TV show, and some of it is pretty funny.
Kids on the Loose: The Sequel (5:06/HD): This is a pretty funny clip with Judd Apatow trying to direct his two children who appear in the movie. Hilarious.
ADR Line-O-Rama (2:50/HD): Some funny lines recorded in ADR and then edited back into various scenes. Short but funny.
George In Love (2:04/HD): Some of the amusing sex scenes in the movie with alternate takes - strangely the breasts, which appeared in the movie, are blurred out!
Funny People Theatrical Trailer (3:07/HD): This extensive group of extras is rounded off with the Theatrical trailer.
Review By: Dave Warner