Saturday, August 1, 2009

Box Office Story: Funny People

I don't know if I plan on doing this every week, but since I've read the Funny People script, I'll try it out.

Early reports are saying Funny People made 8.6 million dollars at the box office yesterday (July 31). This is a very disappointing number for everyone involved with the flick. It's another live-action disappointment for Seth Rogen, it ends Adam Sandler's 100M comedy streak that's been running for 7 years now, and it's another dud for studio Universal, who has had no 100M grosser the entire summer. This film is not on track to change that. With an 8.6M Firday, it's on track to make 23-25M for the weekend. Not too bad, but critics haven't been to kind, and the R-rating/2½ hour runtime will defintely be offputting to most audiences. I see it ending with around 60-65M, not making back it's budget here in the States.

I haven't seen the film yet, but I did read the Funny People script a few months ago. Here were my thoughts:

Funny People

"Funny People" is the story of George Simmons. Simmons is a comedian/actor who has starred in such classics as "Merman", "Dog's Best Friend", and "My Best Friend Is A Robot". I know, they all sound like classics, right? Simmons is self-centered and life has slipped by. He's in his 40s and has nothing real to show for it. He has no friends, no family, just money and an attitude. So when he is diagnosed with rare disease the doctor says is fatal, life comes crashing down.

Ira Wright is a struggling comedian who works at a deli. His two roomates, Leo and Mark have faired a little better. Leo has a comedy gig at a club, and Mark is the star of a successful sitcom. Needless to say, it's mind boggling to them when Ira meets a new friend, George Simmons.

With a fatal disease shrouding his life, George goes back to his roots, and starts hitting up smaller comedy clubs. That's where he meets Ira. George is impressed by this newcomers act and invites Ira to be his assistant and write jokes for him. This is Ira's dream job, so he gladly accepts.

George forms a strong friendship with Ira. Something he's never had before. But there is another person on his mind. Laura. George and Laura were engaged years ago, but he cheated on her. A mistake he's regretted ever since. So when the doctor's tell him a miracle has happened, that his rare, fatal disease has gone away, he takes his new lease on life and heads to Laura's house, Ira in tow, to tell her how he really feels.

This is the part where the dramatic elements really kick in. Laura has a family now. A loving husband, who also cheated on her, and two beautiful daughters. Laura's husband, Clark, is away on a business meeting, and George takes this oppurtunity to court Laura. But Clark comes back early and isn't to pleased.

There's a lot of things that work for this script. There are some generally funny moments in the first half. The relationship Ira has with his roomates and his relationship with George are the highlights of the comedic aspect of the script. On the dramatic front, I really liked the fact that Clark wasn't a total douche, that seems to be the cliche' these days. He may have made some mistakes, but he actually loves Laura. The script doesn't end with that feel-good Hollywood crap. For instance: Laura realizes how terrible a person Clark is and rides off with George into the sunset. No, that wouldn't work, and I'm glad Judd Apatow had the balls to stray away from that. But the script does have it's fair share of problems. It definitely runs on to long. In the beginning, Ira and George get equal character development, but come the third act everything we've loved thus far is pushed aside to showcase the George/Laura romance. Apatow himself said he had three ideas for his next picture and decided to put them all together and made this. Bad choice, imo. What we get is a muddled mess of a plot, and probably the longest comedy you'll see get made these days.

[] Somebody should be fired
[] Bad
[] Mediocre
[x] Worth the read
[] Great
[] Amazing


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