Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Funny People

I thought it would be like taxes, but watching this was more like having an unusually awkward visit from an old friend. You're glad to see them and wouldn't have missed it for the world, but you have to wonder if everything's alright. Are they drinking too much? Is everything all right at home? Why were they talking about that ex the whole time? Was that self-deprecation or self-pity? Who knows? I wanted to say something, but had no idea how.

As weird as it was for Judd Apatow to cast his wife and kids as an opportunity lost while chasing success, these quirks might just be due to his chucklebuddies not knowing how to critique wanna-be James L Brooks. Maybe no one ever suggested a rewrite where the emotional focus was on the nice guy trying to make it in comedy rather than an embittered movie star of questionable talent. Sure, it might have meant cutting his family out of the film (not like Leslie Mann needs his help to get work at this point), but Adam Sandler might have gotten that "he can act!" Oscar nom if his lumpy Jack Nicholson kept to the background while Seth Rogen and Aubrey Plaza took the romantic spotlight. Why spend months beefing your cast's stand-up chops if the movie isn't really going to be about stand-up?

The muted reaction to the movie might be beneficial, as he's neither being pushed to chase that Oscar or told to make with a new Cannonball Run or get out of Hollywood. With his dayjob as The Biggest Producer In Comedy keeping him busy, hopefully he'll craft his next dramedy a little more astutely. Or, considering the value of an astutely crafted dramedy, he'll just stop directing movies.

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