© Universal Pictures International Germany GmbH

Wie das Leben so spielt (Funny People)
U.S.A. 2009

Opening 17 Sep 2009

Directed by: Judd Apatow
Writing credits: Judd Apatow
Principal actors: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogan, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill

This typical Adam Sandler flick, written and directed by longtime friend Judd Apatow is, in fact, not that funny at all. Superstar Los Angeles comedian George Simmons (Sandler) leads an enviable life of fame and fortune. Until, from out of the blue, friendless George learns he has a rare form of leukemia of which he could die. Overwhelmed, he despondently watches his archive of taped past performances, phones Laura (Leslie Mann), the love-of-his-life he let get away, and returns to old haunts to perform stand-up comedy.

Meanwhile, Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) badly wants to succeed so he can move off the sofa in the apartment he shares with more prosperous fellow comics Mark Taylor Jackson (Jason Schwartzman) and Leo Koenig (Jonah Hill). At a comedy club George sees Ira’s routine and phones him with a job proposition: write George’s jokes, and then, later, be his personal assistant.

A curious friendship develops when Ira moves into George’s mansion; George reluctantly mentors Ira; Ira takes on being George’s confident. Ira’s on-stage confidence grows, and George redresses his relationships with family and friends. Months pass and equally unanticipated, George’s doctor tells him the experimental medications have worked and, “…get back to your life.”

Judd Apatow’s theme, “whether someone changes with a second chance at life,” is centered on what he knows well: comedians and their lives. Apatow uses very early footage of Sandler doing stand-up comedy under the opening credits that is more confusing than entertaining, as well as throughout the film. Surprisingly, Sandler’s stretch from adolescent humor to a mature, comedic with a dramatic twist role, works. The stand-up comedy scenes are prolific yet do not get beyond fart, jerking-off and penis jokes. Otherwise nothing else, from cinematography to art direction to music, warrants a comment. One remarkable feature about this film is its length, especially since the storyline is not interesting enough to warrant 146 minutes of our time. (Marinell Haegelin)

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