Funny People

This is a bit of a hard review to write.

 

On one hand, I liked a lot of “Funny People,”* Judd Apatow’s look at death and dying. Adam Sandler gives a great performance as schmuck comedian George Simmons, who discovers that he’s got a rare blood condition that will kill him.

 

George is a wildly successful actor, but once he gets his diagnosis, he returns to his roots as a stand-up and discovers Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), a struggling comic who is still trying to find his style (and become wildly successful himself).

 

George hires Ira to write some jokes for him, which quickly turns into George paying Ira to be his buddy/personal assistant. There is a good friendship there, but there’s also a lot of tension, because Ira wants to be honest with *friend,* but you can’t always be honest with your boss.

 

That evolving relationship (and its turbulent ups and downs) is the best part of the movie, but like other Apatow movies, the side characters and their stories just don’t interest me. Ira’s buddies and his crush on a comedienne really drag the film down, contributing to one of the bigger faults: at 2 hours, “Funny People” is just way too long.

 

Most of the excess comes from the side plots that really don’t need to be there and over-indulgence in comedy scenes, which are supposed to be painfully unfunny (and are unfunny). It’s a flaw he keeps going back to in his films, and I hope he can eventually get it out of his system. He’s a decent storyteller, and pretty funny one, but success is not helping him grow.

 

Better luck next time, Judd.

 

“Funny People” (2009)

Written and directed by Judd Apatow

Starring: Adam Sandler (George)

Seth Rogen (Ira)

 

*Spoilers ahead in my review addendum

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Kitchen Privileges

“Kitchen Privileges (aka ‘Housebound’),” written and directed by Mari Kornhauser, is quite a mixed bag of a movie; on one side, you have a fairly well done drama about a woman recovering from a brutal rape. On the other side, you have a mishandled horror film that fails where it succeeds.

Confused yet? Back to the beginning.

Marie (Katharina Wressnig) has become an agoraphobic after being raped in an elevator about a year before the film begins.  She has adjusted her entire life to staying indoors, to the frustration and concern of her friends and her boyfriend. To supplement her income (and to help her feel safe), she takes in a tenant, Tom (Peter Sarsgaard), a cook on an oil rig who mostly comes and goes.

After a failed attempt at ‘outside’ leads her to a panic attack, Tom helps her through it, and the two of them begin the process of healing her, but like usual, not is all what it seems with this guy. He’s intensely private, he even locks the kitchen door when he’s cooking, and Marie is always hearing weird noises from behind his door. Could he be the mysterious freeway killer who dumps dismembered bodies before moving on to his next victim?

It sounds lame, and it does take a little time to get interested in these characters, but it does happen, thanks to the performances of Wressnig and Sarsgaard. If the movie had just been a psychological drama/horror film with just those two, I suspect I would have liked it more. However, there a number of bit players (most notably Marie’s odious sister Mignon, played by Angeline Ball) that show up to just ruin all the fun.  

(We’re moving in to spoiler territory after the jump; don’t click if you want to be surprised.)

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Thoughts on “Blade Runner”

Once again, let’s subvert the formula here; I’m not going to do a straight up review of Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner.” It’s more of an interpretation of the possibilities.

But first, the story (with spoilers):

Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a retired Blade Runner, a cop/bounty hunter whose purpose is to track down Replicants, robots designed to look human. They’re illegal on Earth, and humans are given free rein to ‘retire’ them.

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A “Dark Knight” endorsement

I’m probably the last person in the country to see “The Dark Knight,” so I figure I don’t need to tell you all to go see it; if you haven’t, you’re missing out, but at this point, I don’t think a review would change anyone’s mind, one way or the other.

So, I’m going to write a different kind of review, one that comes with spoilers. You’ve been warned.

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The Village revisited

There are major spoilers, such as the reveal, given away in this review. You have been warned.

Yes folks, you read that right, I voluntarily watched M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Village” again.

And I have to say that the ending is just as hackneyed and unbelievable as it was the first time around. But damn if the rest of the movie (say, the first hour and 15 minutes or so) is still as compelling as it was then.

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