funny_people.jpg

They say that art lies in taking something very personal and making it universal. Or whatever. The idea is that in exploring life as you understand it, from your own unique perspective, you actually find a way to relate to lots of other people who have their own experiences, and this interchange of thoughts and ideas allows everyone to feel interconnected, part of something big and important, at the very least to feel less alone in the world. We share enough common experiences that the larger themes will be evident and meaningful and open to individual interpretation, and the smaller, individual observations provide the charm, insight, and intangible quality of realism. “You can’t make this stuff up,” etc. And in that sense, Judd Apatow did everything right. He made a very personal film, and held faith as all creative people must that what was interesting to him would be interesting to other people.

Except this time not so much.

At the very least, I think Funny People was a noble failure. I respect what Apatow wanted to do. So many things about this movie could have been really smart and funny and interesting. Somehow they just weren’t, though. And you can respect something in one hand and wish in the other and see which gives this movie the thumbs down first, because in the end a noble failure is still a failure.

So what went wrong?

Well, for one thing, this movie was too long! I own the extended edition DVDs of Lord of the Rings, and I’ve read Infinite Jest (the two best examples of things that require patience), but come on! And it was only made worse by the dramatic deflation of having seen the trailers. I’m not sure how they could have marketed this movie differently, but if you know that he’s going to get better eventually, then the hour-plus that he’s sick loses a lot of its tension and dramatic impact. We already know what’s going to happen, so having to sit around for a really long time to get to the part where we don’t know what’s going to happen (whether or not he will get the girl, which in itself has much lower stakes than whether or not he’s going to die, so it’s actually a double-dramatic-deflation) is just a drag. “Is he better yet?” No. “Is he better yet?” No. “Is he better yet?” No, do you want me to turn this movie around and go home? “Kind of.”

Then there is the problem that even for a serious-ish movie that is more about the pains of aging, the fragility of life, the price of fame, and the tenuousness of happiness than it is about stand up comedy or dick jokes, this movie was really not funny. I recognize that Funny People is actually a play on words, like, they’re ha-ha funny, but they’re also broken funny, and a third even subtler, more basic twist on audience expectations who might somehow go into this movie without having any idea what it was supposed to be about, and then sort of a fourth over-arching idea that funny people are still people and that it is the people part of them that is what ends up being important. But, uh, still. I laughed three times during two-and-a-half hours. That is a very low ratio. And most of those jokes were in one of the trailers (again with the trailers and the ruining of things). The biggest laugh from the audience in the theater where I saw the movie was when James Taylor appeared on the screen? Bad sign. The stuff with the doctor was funny, the Deer Hunter joke was funny, and Jonah Hill is really good at being Jonah Hill. I think my biggest laugh, besides when James Taylor came on screen (?), was when Jonah Hill told Seth Rogen that he wanted to put Seth’s glasses on Seth’s back so that it looked like Seth was blowing him while he fucked Seth in the ass. That was my biggest laugh!?! What a weird joke! My favorite scene of the whole movie was the Eminem cameo, which was weird and ridiculous, but also funny and surprising, and mean spirited and dark and miserable. That scene was what the whole movie strived to be.

And the second half of the movie, after Adam Sandler got better, was where things started getting really weird. It is one thing when Judd Apatow casts his wife and daughters as tertiary characters in an ensemble cast, but when they represent the ideal family? No offense: Leslie Mann is beautiful, and a talented actress, and the children are adorable. I am sure that they actually ARE the ideal family. But relax, Judd Apatow. No one thinks that you don’t have a nice little life going for yourself, you don’t have to be a dick about it.

Judd Apatow was on Fresh Air last week and he talked about using the videotape of his daughter’s performance of “Memory” from Cats in the movie, and how this scene was supposed to demonstrate how emotionally immature Adam Sandler was. Because who wouldn’t be moved by Judd Apatow’s daughter singing “Memory” from Cats? Well, a lot of people. Because she’s not our daughter, Judd Apatow. Later in the movie Adam Sandler says that he saw Cats on Broadway and it was better. True! Millions of people could easily be unmoved by that. Perhaps if I somehow managed to Being John Malkovich myself into Judd Aptow’s body and see the movie again, it might have more resonance for me. But I can’t. So it probably won’t.

I really wanted this movie to be good. I was ready for a dark, mostly serious movie, with bright spots of smart comedy. What I got instead was a spoof of Citizen Kane starring Adam Sandler as an emotionally uglier Adam Sandler (although still with classic Adam Sandler baby voices) where the elusive Rosebud turns out to be Judd Apatow’s life.

But I saw Citizen Kane on Broadway and it was better.

You guys?

Comments (96)
  1. mathias  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 +5

    It was a painful 2+ hours.

  2. i think you’re being a little harsh. i could understand not loving it, i didn’t love it, but i laughed a LOT more than 3 times.

    • I thought Raaaaandy would have said something like “I’ve got Gabe’s criticism on my DIIICK!”

      • gabe = loser  |   Posted on Aug 7th, 2009 0

        hmmm why am i NOT SURPRISED that gabe owns the extended lord of the rings dvds???
        as the genius tina fey once shouted, NERD ALERT!!!

  3. about 40 mins too long, i did enjoy the joke about tom cruise, david beckham, and will smiths dick heads touching… and it has to be said: not enough RAAAAAAAANDY

  4. I didn’t dislike it at all (except Adam Sandler still). I thought the Serious Emotional Things, like when Leslie Mann was crying when she told Adam Sandler her husband is cheating on her, or when Seth Rogen yells at Adam Sandler in the car at the end, were some of the best parts of the movie, effectiveness-wise. I didn’t mind that I didn’t laugh all the way through, because I felt it didn’t mean to be that kind of comedy. The marketing was all wrong because it made it seem like this movie was going to be ninety minutes of non-stop LAFFS when really it almost two and a half hours of a mix of comedy and drama, and I feel like Apatow is one of the best mixers of comedy and drama out there. In this case, I think his drama was better than some of the comedy. (Plus, if you didn’t laugh at Seth Rogen’s stand-up bit about Will Smith, Tom Cruise, and David Beckham touching dicktips, your Hilarious is broken.)
    /essaycommentgum

  5. How cool were the posters in Schwartzman’s apartment? Very different kind of movie for Apatow. More dark than funny but I really liked it. Scale from 1 to 10 I give it an 8.

  6. eric.  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 0

    I was positively baffled by this movie. Even when Leslie Mann and the Apa-tots show up I still wasn’t sure if I was actually supposed to LIKE them or not. Leslie Mann’s character seems like an incredibly flakey, emotionally unstable, broken husk of a human being who is a botched Starbucks order away from destroying her family’s lives. Because she’s desperately in love with Adam Sandler? Even though we’ve just spent 2 hours exploring what a complete human waste he is? But that’s cool because she’s really pretty? And Eric Bana’s a douche because he took the time to learn Chinese and has been exposed to Eastern religions? Oh, but he likes sports too! What an asshole. Whatever. This movie was painful. I absolutely love Judd Apatow but I honestly think this was one of the worst films ever made. It should go in The Hunt.

    • aDSFGH  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 -3

      Woah, instead of setting out clear parameters of how you were supposed to feel, they actually gave you the option to love or hate each major character? Sounds appalling.

      Could have been a knockout, instead falters a little in execution. I liked that Rogen was a dick a lot of the time instead of being the lovable fuckup, I like how Sandler’s character developed over the course of the movie, I like how Apatow’s wife and kids were douchebaggy to both their dad and Sandler. The heart was in the right place, but I feel like it could have used some script editing, and more Raaaaaaaaaandy.

      • eric.  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 +6

        Yeah yeah yeah. I’m not saying that a movie needs to keep everything inside the lines when it’s coloring it’s magnificent life-lesson for me. My point was that NO ONE in the movie seemed particularly likable and I wasn’t sure if that was just because I PERSONALLY didn’t like them or if they were PURPOSEFULLY made that way or if it was just a huge FAILURE on the part of everyone involved. I mean I guess Seth Rogen is likable, but he’s such a schlub and they couldn’t even come up with good jokes for him to tell as he “grew into a full-fledged comedian.” His roommates were both back-biting Hollywood pricks, Adam Sandler is a horrendous person who doesn’t do anything positve until the last 30 seconds of the 2.5 hour movie, Leslie Mann is a failed actress who hates her perfectly lovely life for no good reason. And the one character I feel like they were TRYING to make me dislike was Eric Bana, and honestly I think he’s the most likable person in the entire movie. He genuinely loves his kids, he works hard to provide a very nice life for them and his wife, and his personal foibles (brief marital indiscretion, being kind of obnoxiously oblivious to his wife’s issues about her career failures, liking sports maybe a little too much) seem like NOTHING compared to what the other characters do. I shouldn’t have this much fodder for why a character-driven film failed to create any realistic, good, sympathetic characters. HORRIBLE HORRIBLE MOVIE.

        • Hilary  |   Posted on Aug 8th, 2009 0

          I agree 100% with your comments and I really don’t think you are being harsh. I found most of the characters unlikeable and couldn’t have cared less what their outcomes were. The movie was all over the place. I didn’t laugh much either. And the relentless dick jokes just made me sad – is that really the best he could come up with?

    • I think this is the only problem with the success of The Hunt, which is obviously awesome. But now anytime there’s a hyped/popular movie that isn’t clearly The Best Movie Ever, people will start saying, “I honestly think this was one of the worst films ever made. It should go in The Hunt.” Please. This is not the Worst Movie Ever. It was a very flawed but ultimately interesting and moderately funny movie. If you think this is the worst ever, you need to see more movies. There are some really bad ones!

      • eric.  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 0

        I have seen just about all the movies. I realize it sounds very hyperbolic to say that this is “The Worst Movie Ever Made” but I’m trying to actually make an argument for it. Especially in the sense of The Hunt, in which epically failed ambition is given more weight than simple idiotic Hollywood contrivance. This movie bit off WAY more than it could chew and it choked on it in a positively DREADFUL way. I’m a film editor by trade and every scene seemed randomly hobbled together like the idea of a script or even an outline had never even been considered. The acting was as flat and uninspired as it gets, the photography was as pedestrian as it gets, the scope as self-indulgent as it gets, the final product as over-length and oblivious to its own hulking failure as it gets. I could teach a class on why this might very well be the Worst Movie Ever Made in the hopes that no one ever does something like this again. I would gladly sit through A.I. or Dan in Real Life again than watch 2.5 hours of NOT EVEN FUNNY dick jokes.

        • Well, that’s your choice. I’m not gonna hack your Netflix account and make it send you this forever. But it seems to me that while some of the movies in The Hunt are ambitious failures, a lot are just really banal and uninteresting and lifeless crap. And maybe I’m in the minority, but I think at the very least Funny People was interesting, even if it had huge obvious flaws.

          Oh, and relax on the hyperbole. Pretending like literally every facet of the movie was an objective epic fail is not helping your argument.

          Enjoy Dan in Real Life!

          • eric.  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 0

            You can do that with Netflix accounts? Oh man…my ex-girlfriend is totally going to be getting Saw V forever…JACK ME IN MORPHEUS!

      • You make a keen observation. It’s funny how just one person stating their completely rational disapproval of a movie can lead to people bathing in the blood of virgins and mutilating small animals. I thought it was a good movie, I just guess my expectations were a little high.

        And I’m not being metaphorical about the sacrificing virgins and mutilating small animals, either. I saw it on an episode of 60 Minutes.

        • eric.  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 0

          I just honestly thought the film was a trainwreck. Admittedly, my hopes were probably too high. I don’t think it’s the end of Judd Apatow. In the Time magazine piece about him they said that this film was his attempt to become a “real filmmaker” and not just a “mass producer of comedies.” And good for him. He’s a talented guy. And this is a great premise. I just don’t think he’s a talented enough dramatic filmmaker (yet) to pull it off and that lack of experience combined with final-cut can lead to some big problems. Also, I saw it on Friday and none of my friends have seen it yet so this was 3 days of pent up commentary coming out.

          • Maybe that’s part of the difference – my expectations weren’t all that high. I was expecting a flawed bu intermittently entertaining movie that I wouldn’t regret seeing, and that’s pretty much what I got.

            And I’m glad to see that you’re not giving up on Apatow, because I think there could definitely be a huge anti-Apatow backlash after this. We shouldn’t give up on him though. I think what will probably happen is that he’ll take a couple years off (from directing anyways), and then come back with a “back to basics” movie along the lines of Superbad or 40 year old virgin, and in 20 years Funny People will be the semi-forgotten “for hardcore fans only” Apatow film.

            I’m so glad everyone here solicited my predictions on Apatow’s career arc. Thanks!

  7. This is the most schizophrenic movie I’ve seen in a while. I thought the first half was terrific – a dark look at the dark side of comedy. It feels like a complete movie itself. So when the Leslie Mann/Eric Bana story takes over (which it does *completely*, at the expense of all the other subplots), it’s like we’re watching a thoroughly different, much less interesting movie.

    • totally agree, the first half of the movie was what i was hoping the entire movie would be (a funny movie about a serious issue, i.e. mortality). sandler and rogen were both very good, the jokes worked, the drama was believable. THEN, when he doesn’t die and hooks up with leslie mann, although i feel the whole thing was a necessary part of the arc for sandler’s character, i feel like the film lost focus on what it was trying to convey at the beginning of the story, and became something else entirely. i don’t find it surprising that this film had two editors; in a way it felt like apatow took two different films and just went SMOOOOSH, not unlike tom cruise, david beckham, and will smith with the tips of their dicks. the guy really needs an editor with more scruples to get rid of all that extraneous material. but overall i thought it was a good film, not great, and the people saying it’s so awful and that it belongs in the hunt need to take a cue from technojeremy and relax.

  8. Promotional Viral Videos for Funny People > Funny People.

  9. Adam Sandler was good in Punch Drunk Love… and now I’m done talking about Adam Sandler. Why did you even go see this movie?

  10. The plot arc was all wrong. I had finally gotten used to the idea that Sandler’s character was going to live through more of the movie than i wished he would, when they spring the whole ‘Nevermind, he’s been completely healed by Canadian experimental medicine’ bit on me. And by the time the movie moved on to his fractured romance with Apatow’s wife, i was miles away in don’tcaresville dreaming about Raaaaandy videos.

  11. I didn’t see this and probably shouldn’t be commenting. But oh man. So sick of Judd Apatow and his self-satisfied, one-notch-above-Kevin-Smith brand of raunchy comedy and his played-out “affectionate” take on male foibles. Knocked Up was one of the most overrated comedies I’ve ever seen. All that idiotic stoner banter made me feel like I was the only one at a party that didn’t get smoked out. And I know there’s a lot of Heigl hate up in here, but she had one thing right: her character was a total fucking shrew (and the sister even more so). Ok, so wrong movie club, I’m out.

  12. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  13. Gregorious II  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 -2

    The process of writing jokes is neither interesting nor funny to witness, so why put it in your film? I respect that developing a joke that actually works may be a hard or complex process, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I need to see it done.

    Funny People however decides opposite, having characters explain to one another how they should write a joke. Dullsville.

  14. Maybe it was my mood on Sunday, but it was the perfect movie outing for me. I enjoyed it. Agree with KP. 8 of 10. My parents called me and said they loved it too – they are big Apatow fan’s – seriously.

    Anyway, I will say… My theater audience might have been similar to Gabe’s – all the loud laughs came during James Taylor and the “Marin county” jokes got some play due to proximity. Not sure if the audience was too old, slow or taken aback with the more off-color stuff, but I felt like I was the only one laughing. My ratio was a bit higher than the average.

  15. Movie had some funny moments but overall kind of an irritating movie. Enough of the after-school-special about what happens to people that don’t get married and have children like they’re supposed to. Children are not the only path to a fulfilling life but I am sure they’re more enjoyable when you have big Apatow bucks for nannies and personal trainers to help keep your wife (who doesn’t really work for a living) hot looking.

    I found the scene with the daughter singing Memory especially insulting. As if the point hadn’t yet been made that Sandler’s character was a dick, here’s the proof, he didn’t cry when he saw the little girl singing. Yes, obviously if you don’t find kids singing in school plays moving, you’re a real sociopath.

    • Lcrawfty  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 0

      I didnt really understand why Ira cried except that he is a big sentimental vagina. I was kind of telling myself maybe this is proving that Laura’s relationship with George would never work out because she would keep expecting him to be this loving Dad when the kids are not his and that is not him.

    • 1.) I don’t feel like the point being made with the film is that you need to have a family in order to be happy, it’s more that even IF sandler’s character had a family, he would still be a miserable asshole.
      2.) I don’t mean to single you out here, but people need to lay off leslie mann, she’s a talented actress who has had a career of her own for a long time, and just because she’s in her husband’s films doesn’t mean she doesn’t work or she was in the film just because she’s fucking the director. it never ceases to amaze me how casually sexist people can be, including the same people who found knocked up to be sexist because the female characters are somewhat unlikeable (ok, “somewhat” is being a bit generous). honestly, if you were a director and you were married to a talented actress, why not put her in your movie?
      3.) as far as the cats song scene goes, the point is he could have at least PRETENDED to be moved by the song, as i’m sure you or i would have done if we were in the same situation (but george isn’t like you and i, he’s a jaded asshole). you sure as hell wouldn’t tell someone you cared about that you weren’t impressed by their daughter singing a song in her school play. c’mon. clearly you have a vendetta against judd apatow and will find any excuse you can to take him down. chill out.

  16. everytime I saw something about this movie I got it confused with Funny Games, which meant that I had a completely unjustified but very strong aversion to it. I kind of feel happy about that aversion now.

  17. This movie was perfectly mocked by its own gigantic, pointless product placement for MySpace at the very beginning. The same thinking that made them accept that advertising opportunity seemed to drive everything in the movie — which was long, overfilled, self-serving and completely beside the point, just like that scene.

  18. I don’t think the point of Cats song was that Adam Sandler didn’t cry, it was that not only was he completely uninterested in it, but his reaction was completely off base (“little person singing a big person song” “acid trip!”). It just sort of illustrated a bit about how he didn’t really understand Leslie Mann’s life or her children, and demonstrated how he wouldn’t really fit into that family.
    And while the movie was definitely too long in a “hmm, it’s been a while but I guess that’s okay” kind of way, I thought that there were several ridiculously funny one liners and my interest was piqued throughout. It wasn’t funny all the time, but it wasn’t trying to, and I think it had a pretty nice not exactly profound message about getting older and not being an asshole.

  19. Derfdanger  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 0

    I liked it. Not as much as previous Apatow films. My biggest problem was the run time. Like, way too long, dudes. Had he cut about 30-40 minutes, the result would’ve been a far tighter, more effective story. Maybe. Could’ve easily made a 6-7 (out of 10) into an 8-8.5. Maybe.

  20. On a scale of Like It, Love It, and Gotta Have It, I give it a “Like It.”

  21. I loved it in nearly every detail. Aubrey Plaza’s character gave a wonderful, harsh turn as the cute-quirky girl who (like her male counterparts in every Apatow movie) wants to fuck an attractive person and will do so when given the chance. The way she and Rogen pushed and pulled was really true and surprising. And Jason Schwartzman’s earnestly malevolent facade was hypnotic. I always thought this was going to be Apatow’s James L Brooks moment, and I kind of think it is. But then again a lot of people fucking HATE Brooks.

    • lcrawfty  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 +1

      Did she really just screw him because she thought he was hot? It seemed like she did it because he was in a show, she was drunk and wanted some attention. As a straight woman I can say definitively Schwartzman is not hot. He is very short, he has moles, his nose is huge, he’s extremely hairy, and he has kind of a high voice for a man. Eric Bana is the guy you do just because he’s hot.

      • As a(nother) straight woman speaking only for myself I will say that given the chance between fucking Schwartzman or Bana I would choose Schwartzman any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Subjectivity is a hell of a thing!

      • Fair point — except, her character actually verbalized my summation. She challenged Rogen’s character by saying, essentially, ‘you wouldn’t sleep with a hot girl if she wanted you to?’ Apatow deftly allowed her character to behave in the same shallow, complicated ways that men typically do in these dude movies (sleep with the shallow hot person, end up with the redeeming and decidedly less glamorous ‘good’ person). She was drunk, but she still wanted to do it. Whether Schwartzman is hot or not is another discussion. I guess not? I mean, Eric Bana is a clear cut case, obviously. Still … if Rogen and Hill are your roommates, chances are you’re the hot one.

      • But you should see him play the drums!

  22. I totally understand what you’re saying, but I think you’ve kinda Videogum-ed this movie too hard. I thought that the first half of the movie was actually really funny, and I’m almost 60% sure that I’m not an idiot (I like Arrested Development, Eastbound and Down, Party Down, 30 Rock, and NOT Entourage. That’s virtually an I.Q. test, right?). If you’re going to claim that you don’t think that dick jokes and feigned homosexuality are not funny, then I call foul.

    My favorite thing about Videogum is that you take seemingly idiotic, often obscure and always bizarre content and illuminate the hilarious or hilariously sad aspects for us all to enjoy/ =( at. That’s why I agree with you about the entire second half of Funny Peopl; it sucked! I don’t like getting beaten over the head with whatever lesson or moral Judd Apatow thinks that he’s learned over the years either, but come on! The first half of this movie was hilarious and easily on par with his other movies.

    Find the =) in things, my friend.

    I’ll try and take my own advice when this comment is voted into negative integers faster than you can say “Woof”.

  23. Best use of a Holocaust joke in a movie since Tom Cruise in Valkyrie.

  24. I laughed so hard and so did the rest of the audience. My experience so far has been that nobody thought it was perfect, but everyone who didn’t have to write about it, loved it. I sure did. Wheeeee!

    • What’s up with the skid marks there Dale Earnhardt, Jr.?

    • Well, suggesting that someone doesn’t like something just because they have to write about it is one way to try and invalidate their completely legitimate opinions.

      • Oh, I haven’t done an official study — and the commenters here, most of whom presumably didn’t “have” to write about it, disprove my (jokey!) point. I have found that, across the board, the people I know who saw the movie with the intent of critiquing it enjoyed it much less than those who saw it just for fun. This is probably true of *every* movie. Or TV show. Or book. For example: I finally enjoy watching Mad Men.

        • It’s a movie. So some people love it, and some people hate it, and some people feel in-between about it. And all of those opinions are completely valid. But your point, “joking!” or no, is that somehow your opinion is more valid because you saw it under purer conditions? Your heart is true? And because the audience also laughed, your laughter is more justified? Come on.

          • ModernMANdroid  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 +4

            I can completely see how reviewers, aware of their need to dissect the art and extensively defend whatever opinions they state, have a different viewing experience than theater patrons whose only concern is their entertainment vs. the money spent on their ticket. I have a group of friends who, if they see a film together, will emerge with a homogeneous opinion after discussing it. The same people, when not as a group, have wildly varying opinions. Certainly the knowledge that hundreds or thousands of your “monsters” will be judging your reviews affects the stances you take.

          • Of course. Obviously someone who is watching a movie (or a TV show, or listening to a CD) with an eye/ear/whatever towards writing about that thing is going to have a somewhat different viewing experience than someone who goes without having to form any opinion whatsoever. And that person has a different viewing experience than someone who waits until the movie is at a second-run movie theater, where the tickets are less expensive, and the cost-value equation shifts, and that person has a different experience than the person who watches the movie for free on HBO one hungover Sunday afternoon. That’s the whole point: everyone watches the movie under particular circumstances that affect their opinion. But regardless of the circumstances, the opinion remains valid. And I’m not sure how “having to defend” your opinion somehow makes your opinion more suspect? At least people who write about their opinions have given it some thought. More people should have to defend their opinions.

          • I hate to do this, but right now you are basically attacking this guy by saying your opinion is more valid because you have to defend it on your blog. Isn’t that basically what you said was Lindsay’s invalid argument, just vice versa?

          • You’re on the defensive here, but I don’t know that you are truly being attacked. Both sides of this argument seem reasonable. I don’t think that Lindsay or Modernmandroid are trying to delegitimize your opinion. Your opinion is clearly legitimate and well thought out. All they are suggesting is that your opinion and critique of this movie may not be applicable to the general movie viewing audience. Relax technogabe.

          • I think the the difference between opinions formed with the intention of being justified and defensible and those formed without that intention is that the requirement for defensability marks the difference between a more intellectual and a more emotional opinion. That is, a justifiable and defensible opinion must be a fundamentally intellectual opinion – while an opinion that doesn’t need to be justified doesn’t need to be objective. Gabe can hardly write subjective reviews that merely characterize how a given film made him feel; Gabe’s feelings wouldn’t very well inform me of whether or not i would like or should see the movie; Gabe’s feelings are hardly something we can talk about – he feels them, and he can’t help it; they’re not open for discussion.

            I read Lindsay’s comment as saying that the movie worked for people who saw it and reacted to in on a more emotional level, and the movie didn’t work for peoplee who saw it and reacted to it on a more intellectual level. I read gabe’s belief that more people should have to justify their opinions as betraying his preference for intellectual rather than emotional opinions; ones that are relatively objective and relatively discussable.

          • A movie that works for the few hours and then you go on with your evening may suffer under greater scrutiny; scrutiny required when writing about it or recounting the story for others. Not sure this is intellectualizing versus some emotional response, which seems a little arbitrary and does marginalize the considered response as somehow less genuine and visceral.
            The film may actually suffer more emotionally after consideration because the emotional arc of the film fails (for some), while the dick jokes are presumably still funny. Just not enough to compensate for the dissatisfaction with the story/perspective of the film.

        • You should save your fight till Friday, perhaps?

        • Passerby  |   Posted on Aug 4th, 2009 -3

          Thank you Lindsay! (Love your stuff on Jezebel btw). Just shut your brains off and enjoy guys! You don’t have to dissect this movie. Just laugh!

      • ModernMANdroid  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 -4

        Perhaps the majority of opinions from a hellbent-on-snarkyattitude website are invalid?

      • It’s sort of similar to how twisting someone’s words is a good way to invalidate their opinion, huh?

  25. Gabe, you took the words right out of my mouth.

  26. Oh. I forgot to mention. My biggest disappointment with this film was that Elizabeth Banks wasn’t in the Merman clip.

  27. I loved how the best parts of this movie were the RAAAAAAAANDY documentaries. When RAAAAAAAANDY only had 2 scenes. I think it should be a rule that Aziz Ansari should have at least 30 scenes in every movie ever. Not having it MAAAAAAAADE me MAAAAAAAD…also…I hate myself

  28. I remember laughing quite a bit during the movie, but now, a whole 20 hours later, I can hardly remember any of the jokes. A Judd Apatow movie my friends and I can’t quote back and forth? What is the point??
    Jason Schwartzman was good, though.

  29. The movie was too long and plotted poorly, but there is just something about watching Adam Sandler melancholily watching footage of his younger self. That part was exceptionally moving. Sandler was really the perfect cast for this movie.

    • “Sandler was really the perfect cast for this movie.”

      Now I’m imagining Adam Sandler playing all the parts in this film, Eddie Murphy-style. THAT would be truly insufferable.

      • Alright, so that was probably poor word choice, but that word choice led you to think of the most awesome potential movie imaginable. Imagine a super serious drama about the pains of growing older with infrequent funny parts. Now imagine that movie with Adam Sandler as every character, including a fat grandma. Now imagine the oscars rolling in.

  30. brett  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 0

    Were there some really cool explosions at least? That would justify the 70 MILLION fucking dollars this movie somehow cost to make: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1201167/business

    • faas  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 +1

      the budget costs cover more than what you see on screen. i’m sure opening the film with a Paul McCartney song wasn’t a “sure, just go ahead and use it” type of deal.

  31. i mostly liked it. agree with everybody that schwartzman and aziz needed a lot more screen time though, they were the best.

    also i thought it was kinda interesting how nearly-autobiographical a lot of those characters were. like, that was real, old footage of adam sandler and leslie mann – their characters’ past is themselves! and all those jokes about seth losing weight, i thought that was nice. ‘you look weird skinny dude’

    also: seth rogen never said that “my face is circumsized” joke that everyone in theaters laughed the most at in previews. weird, i guess.

  32. i mostly liked it. i agree with everybody though that schwartzman and aziz needed more screen time, they were the best.

    i also liked how a lot of the characters were kinda veiled versions of their own selves. like, adam sandler’s and leslie mann’s old footage was actually footage of them from earlier in their careers. also i kinda liked all the jokes about seth rogen being skinny now, i bet jonah hill makes those jokes in real life.

    also: seth rogen never said that line about ‘my face is circumsized’, which always got a larger-than-necessary laugh in previews in theaters. did he? weird, i guess.

  33. I’m pretty sure Jonah Hill put on Seth Rogen’s weight.

  34. I think this discussion kind of produces a meta-review of the movie that adds up to this:

    It was okay.

  35. I’m not going to be critical because it seems like everyone has covered a lot of ground re: this movie’s strengths and weaknesses.
    I give….
    Structure and pacing: 5
    LAFFS: 8
    Narrative: 6
    Riskiness: 8

    Overall: Apatow gets a 7 from me.

  36. Also, did anyone else want to shoot themselves in the head during the “Couples Retreat” trailer?

  37. I agree with all of the criticism set out here, but I will say that this movie had the best performance by Adam Sandler that I’ve ever seen. It was brave of him to play a charcter that was bascially a badly damaged version of himself. And he had great chemisty with Seth Rogen.

  38. JT  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 -1

    A movie that would be loved if no one had ever heard of the director. Apatow virgins from the future who see this one first will probably like it best. As is true everywhere else, expectations hurt the expector more than the expectee. All the things that were wrong with this movie is that it didn’t do what we expect. There’s nothing wrong with a comedy that isn’t that funny, a movie that changes stories halfway through, a movie full of unlikeable characters, you don’t want to quote, etc. It’s just bad when you’re really happy to see the something else that it doesn’t turn out to be.

  39. I would gladly see a movie about the three roomates and their exploits (as long as it had Aubrey Plaza and Raaaaaandy, too).

  40. jojo  |   Posted on Aug 3rd, 2009 +1

    I agree that structurally it had problems and after you found out he was better and knew there was another hour I braced myself for the worst. But I enjoyed the third act. I didn’t have your take that the Leslie and co represented the “ideal family” I think the grotesqueness/flightiness/unhappiness/funniness of the Leslie Mann character and Adam Sandler’s relationship was complicated and pretty interesting, also risky on the part of the director. I didn’t know where it was going. For a second I thought this was Apatow’s take on Sunset Blvd. Also I didn’t laugh where you did, I thought the Jason S and the aspiring female comedian were really funny. Matter of taste I guess.

  41. While I thought that movie was a bit of a mess and overalll pretty structureless (too long), from the simple storytelling arc of it, I totally disagree. There was a point in that movie, where Apatow took the story in a direction completely divergent from most dry, Hollywood (B)romance comedies. It was the point where George and Laura were completely set up to do the noble thing, so they could run away together with her kids and her evil, villainous husband would be left in China crying over lost love, etc… But they didn’t do the noble thing. They lowered themselves to the guy who was set up to be the bad guy. That to me is what is unique about Apatow’s writing: It’s not “I’m a nice guy now, because I defeated evil,” so much as “I’m a nice guy now, because I am evil.” Nobody does the right thing. The people we are cheering for lie, cheat, and manipulate, and the guys we are prepared to hate are loving, gentle, and kind.

    I also loved the countless, albeit wholly unnecessary cameos. Who doesn’t smile at the sudden, random appearance of Norm Macdonald making an AIDS joke?

  42. My least favorite part was during Ira’s confrontation of Daisy, after she slept with Jason Schwartzman’s character. She pulls, in self-defense, what is made out to be an “Independent Woman Card,” that she herself discredits by a faltering tone of voice. (“Because…I’m…an independent woman…?”)

    Why bother suggesting in the film that there is this tactic that exists, you guys, whereby women can effectively excuse their trollop-y ways through The Liberated Woman Ruse? What’s the point? Ha, ha? There is a laugh in this? The “Nice try, slutty lady” moment that followed made me uncomfortable.

  43. Okay, now I’ve seen this movie. I think it had an okay first half and then just went haywire narratively. But the dramatic/narrative problems would have been almost forgivable if the comic material had been any good. But it was mostly terrible! Those jokes? The non-penis jokes — the topical ones — are going to date very badly. I feel like topical humor is fine for a late-night talk show, but for a movie that?s supposed to endure through the ages, it?s deadly. This shit is not going to play in ten or even five years. In fact it?s going to be embarrassing. (The penis jokes were bad too.)

    I also felt kind of sorry for Seth Rogen, who has almost nothing to do but look all gapey and hapless. It was so stupid how he was constantly relaying information that we already knew about. He wasn?t just Adam Sandler?s gopher, he was Judd Apatow?s! What a thankless role! And man, the Cats-video scene was just weird for me. I was like, why is this little kid singing in this overtrained Broadway voice? Is there something wrong with me that I don?t find this poignant at all?

    Also, not to parrot Gabe, but the idea that someone who is thinking critically about a movie is somehow less capable of enjoying it is pretty ridiculous. If that were true, there would be no good movie reviews! And if anything, I think the opposite is true. The closer you pay attention (to a good movie), the more you can appreciate the nuance of a line or the economy of the plot development or anything else that might elude a casual viewing. This just doesn’t happen to be that movie for some people.

  44. “I’m not gonna hack your Netflix account and make it send you this forever.” is the best. That is the funniest thing ever. Me? I’m good with the trailers and the RAAAAAAAANDY (it is 8 A’s, right?) extras.

  45. The last 11/2 of the movie was just really bizzare. Everything was going well in the beginning, slow, but it was leading somewhere and then the last half of the movie was a mad scramble or mumble jumble trying to tie up lose ends. It tries to slap the characters back into reality…too abruptly. The pacing was so bad!

    I actually thought jonah hill was the shining star from this. I think the thing with him is that he’s great in small doses.

  46. Sabadooooo!
    “The tenuousness of happiness”? What does that mean? I’m still not past the “please god no, not another Adam Sandler movie” phase.

    Noble FAIL.

  47. Whenever there is a heated argument, you’re always there to lighten the mood.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post, reply to, or rate a comment.