On The Couch #4: Funny People

Wow, I had Funny People sitting next to my DVD player for a long time. I received it from Netflix in late November and finally watched it on Friday. The weird thing is I really wanted to see this movie. I pushed it to the top of queue is late November, knowing that I would watch it the day it came; I was that excited about this movie.

But the disc went neglected in the lead-up to Christmas and New Year’s, always sitting atop an empty spot on the television stand, never completely out of sight, never completely out of mind. Even having off from work the week between Christmas and New Year’s didn’t help. There was always some reason not to watch it.

One night around New Year’s we invited over Andrew and Jen, two good friends who were visiting from California. They were just sitting down to watch a DVD though, and would be over after that. I said “Think they’ll want to watch Funny People after that?” They did not. Because the DVD they were watching was Funny People. Son of a – !

When they came over to hang out, Andrew warned that the movie was really long. They turned it off with a half hour left in order to come to our place. “Eric Bana doesn’t show up until about two hours in, and he’s in the commercials,” Andrew warned, “It’s like two movies in one.” Sure enough, I checked the DVD sleeve. 2 hours and 38 minutes! Damn!

Andrew’s warning and seeing the length of time on the DVD sleeve aided in my delay. Once I returned to work, it was hard to work in a 2 hour and 38 minute movie. If we started it at 8 PM, then it wouldn’t finish until around 10:40 PM. Finally Julie gave me an ultimatum: “You have to watch this before you watch disc 2 of Weeds.” That worked, because I really wanted to see how season 5 of Weeds ended. “Okay,” I said, “we’re going to watch this Friday night.” And we did, followed by a couple of episodes of Weeds.

I’m sorry I waited so long to watch Funny People. I think it’s a great movie. It excels both as a drama and a comedy, showing the inner turmoil of people who get paid (or try to get paid) to make others laugh. Seth Rogen and Adam Sandler are both great in it. Rogen takes a major turn from his usually overly sarcastic characters and comes across as very real. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been a fan of Seth Rogen since the first time I saw him in Freaks and Geeks. But it was refreshing to see him play someone who is 180 degree turn from his usual characters. I thought both he and Sandler were overlooked not getting an Academy Award nomination for their roles in Funny People.
Freaks.                            Geeks.
Aubrey Plaza and Aziz Ansari from Parks and Rec both play aspiring comedians in the movie. I like both of them and it’s always cool to see them in different things, this movie being no exception. Aubrey plays Seth Rogen’s love interest and Aziz plays basically a much more annoying version of himself. I thought Human Giant, Aziz’s sketch comedy show with Rob Huebel and Paul Scherer, was MTV’s best program in years. Hopefully they come back with a second season of that. And I have thought Aubrey was funny ever since I saw her Kaplowee! video a couple of years ago.

Funny People also has plenty of guest stars, both major and minor, making cameos. I don’t want to spoil the “Oh, cool” surprise factor for anyone though (Ha-ha! Look at me act like my readership is more than a few friends who I know already saw this movie). But there is a very funny argument between a rapper and a former CBS sitcom star that stood out as one of the best parts of the movie.
This is another disc that utilizes the Pocket BLU iPhone app. I have to say, I really like using my iPhone as my Blu-ray player’s remote, even if the actual remote is sitting right by me. I haven’t gotten over the novelty of this just yet.

What I also liked about the disc is that the theatrical version is included with the unrated version. When it comes to comedies, I’ve found that most of the time the theatrical version wins. Unrated versions of most comedies seem to just include jokes that weren’t that great to begin with. I came to this understanding when I saw Wedding Crashers. I first saw it on DVD and thought it was 20 minutes too long and had stretches that were a bit boring. Then I saw it again and cable and loved it. And realized it was a bit shorter. I don’t think with the unrated version of the majority of movies that you’re getting more for your money. Sometimes more is less.

Longer? Yes. Funnier? Eh…

It’s been pointed out to me that I am not living up to my post-within-24-hours-viewing promise. I think I overreached with that one. Revised promise: the post will be up the same week that I see the movie, though I’ll always try to get these up as quickly as I can.

Up next from Netflix: Julie and Juila and District 9. I’m excited to see both. Hopefully that doesn’t mean they sit on my shelf for two months.