Funny People (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

I love cliques and really, who doesn’t? Movie cliques have been around forever though lately they seem to be getting a bit easier to spot. I’m going somewhere with this, I assure you. Take, for instance, a Kevin Smith movie. In essentially every one you’ve got the same cast of characters in different roles (or in Jay and Silent Bob’s case, the same role). There’s nothing wrong with that at all, the actors know and play off one another and usually it works out. Such is the case with a “Judd Apatow” film in which you’ve got a core group of actors/characters that consistently deliver the goods. In the case of “Funny People” those people are Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Leslie Mann (aka “Mrs. Judd Apatow”). But a new and somewhat “seasoned” actor has joined tha Apatow klan and his name is Adam Sandler. Hmmm?Adam Sandler in a movie called “Funny People.” Either this is really clever or really ironic. It’s ironic.

Sandler plays, by and large, himself. We see archived footage of his earlier days and even his pre-SNL stuff. His name is George Simmons and he’s had a career in stand-up comedy and has made several slapstick comedy films that have made him into a bit time star. Again, this pretty much parallels Sandler’s own career. George has all the acutrements of the lifestyle, a new iMac in every room, a house and a view that most of us would die for and he can pretty much have (and does) with any woman he so desires. However when he finds out that he has a rare form of Leukemia, things start to change for George. George takes a rising young comedian by the name of Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) under his wing and pays him to write jokes for him. Ira, initially starstruck, graciously accepts his offer and the two start to become friends. However George ponders his past and more specifically Laura (Leslie Mann) who can only be described as “the one who got away.” Laura lives in Northern California with a family and domineering Australian husband, Clarke (Eric Bana). Can George rekindle the past and make things right with his time left in the world?

As I sit and write this, I’ve got the Internet Movie Database pulled up and see a user comment that says “Judd Apatow’s most mature effort to date” and it’s a very accurate description of the film. Is “Funny People” funny? Yes. In parts. More to the point, the film is a bit of self-discovery, focusing on human nature and the passage of time. Does money truly buy happiness? I think not. Does it lead to a more comfortabe lifestyle? I’d say yes. We all know there’s much more to Adam Sandler than meets the eye and we all know that he can really act, based on 2002’s “Punch Drunk Love.” “Funny People” seems to really explore the relationship between Sandler and Rogen’s characters and make no mistake about it, this is Sandler’s movie. He’s in pretty much every scene. For those who might be expecting something along the lines of “Knocked Up” or “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” there are echoes of that in this film, but “Funny People” goes a bit deeper and I’m thankful for it. Also, this film is nearly two and a half hours in length, so get comfortable. Lastly, as is the standard fare for a “Judd Apatow” film, expect a great ensemble cast with stellar performances by one of my favorites, Jason Schwartzman and Eric Bana.

Video: How does it look?

“Funny People” comes to Blu-ray in a 1.85:1 AVC HD transfer that looks every bit as good as I exected it to look. Colors are warm and strong and the sunny skies of Southern California never looked so blue. Flesh tones are a bit on the “baked” side, but not to the point where it’s distracting. There’s no hint of edge enhancement and detail is very, very sharp. Suffice it to say that for a big budget movie coming out of a major studio, this looks pretty much how we’d expect it to look in HD.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is good, though this is by and large a dialogue-driven comedy. Sandler tends to mumble in his roles and this one is certainly no exception. That being said (pardon the pun), dialogue is very strong and the front heavy sound stage is again pretty consistent with what I was expecting. There’s not a lot else to say other than this delivers, though I wouldn’t exactly call this the best use of surround sound out there.

Supplements: What are the extras?

There’s not a lot in terms of supplements here, the highlight is the commentary with director Judd Apatow and stars Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen. The trio give an insightful commentary and have no problem laughing at themselves and poking fun at Rogen’s new physique. It does answer a few questions I had as well. Additionally there’s the option to choose between the Rated “R” version and the Unrated version. There are also a trio of documantaries in which we get to go behind the scenes of the film (nothing we haven’t seen before, though), Judd Apatow’s High School Radio Show and “Raaaaaaaaandy!” a mockumentary with Aziz Ansar’s character from the film.

This two disc set has more in store as well. We get a sampling of music from the film with James Taylor (who has a cameo in the movie), Adam Sander and Jon Brion. More interesting is some archived footage of Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow on “The Midnight Hour with BIll Maher” as well as Adam Sandler’s first appearance on the David Letterman show and a very young Seth Rogen doing a stand up act at the ripe age of 13! There’s also a selected sampling of “George Simmons'” films (Sandler’s character from the movie) as we get peeks of “Sayonara Davey” and “Merman”. Rounding out the supplements is an actual prank call from 1990 as Sandler does what he does best. This is the same footage in the opening credits and fans of Sandler will no doubt recognize some of his voices from his comedy CD’s. Also, this was done in the days before caller ID which ruined prank calls forever. Finally we get a look at “Yo Teach…!”, the show that Jason Schwartzman’s character starred in. We also get some BD Live functionality as well as some more stand up material and prank calls by Sandler and Apatow (didn’t these guys have anything better to do?).

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