starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana
written and directed by Judd Apatow
by Walter Chaw I liked the first hour of Judd Apatow's Funny People quite a lot--the last four not so much. Needless to say, focus and pacing are a problem. Focus and pacing are a problem for just about any film that runs two-and-a-half hours. It starts as something different and strange, an experiment that seems to be working whereby Adam Sandler's sociopathic persona is put under the microscope and left to squirm. And then it turns into a James L. Brooks melodrama, and then a Kevin Smith joint. (Its epilogue, taking place in a deli between two protagonists after the storm, is shot in exactly the same way as Brooks's conclusion to Broadcast News, while a late-film kiddie rendition of "Memory" from "Cats" exhumes musty memories of Jersey Girl's Sondheim desecration.) What I'm saying is that Funny People starts as Punch-Drunk Love, transmogrifies into Spanglish, and metastasizes into Jersey Girl. If this were a boxing match between film and audience, the rope's the only thing holding us up for the last six rounds. It would be wrong to say that I hated Funny People; it squanders so much potential that it's closer to the truth to say the overwhelming feeling it engenders is one of intense disappointment.