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HTF DVD REVIEW: Funny People 2-Disc Unrated Collector's Edition

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#1 of 1 OFFLINE   Timothy E

Timothy E

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Posted November 20 2009 - 11:57 AM

http://images.dvdemp...s/1497431.jpg">FUNNY PEOPLE 2-Disc Unrated Collector’s Edition

Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Year: 2009


Film Length: 2 hours, 26 minutes (theatrical), 2 hours, 33 minutes (unrated)

Aspect Ratio: 1080p (1.85:1)

Audio: English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 2.0, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Release Date: November 24, 2009

The Movie (4/5)

Funny People is the story of George Simmons (Adam Sandler), a hugely successful stand up comedian who is at the top of his game even while his personal life is in a shambles. After being diagnosed with a terminal illness, Simmons takes a struggling young comedian under his wing, Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) to train in comedy and work as his assistant.

Funny People has a lot of funny bits in it for a film that has a darker premise than the typical Adam Sandler film. Many Sandler films follow a formula in which a man/child played by Sandler is forced by circumstances to overcome some challenge and win the girl by the end of the film. Fans expecting this type of film were probably disappointed by Funny People. On its own merits, Funny People is still a very good film that reveals a glimpse into the subculture of stand up comedy and the struggle and effort to become successful as shown through the eyes of Rogen’s character. There are many cameos by notable successful stand up comics playing themselves in the film. Leslie Mann, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, and Eric Bana also appear but not as themselves.

Funny People is the third theatrical film directed by Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin). Apatow modeled the story for this film loosely after Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. While most other Sandler films leave few loose ends by the end of the film, Funny People defies that expectation to create a character study of a mostly sympathetic lead character who is seriously flawed and who does not necessarily learn from his mistakes like Sandler’s characters do in his lighter fare.

Video (3/5)

Both the theatrical version and the extended, unrated version of the film appear on Disc 1 in their original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The unrated version is 7 minutes longer and contains expanded versions of several scenes from the theatrical version integrated back into the film. Minor compression artifacts are visible throughout the film, particularly mosquito noise haloing around the actors, which is probably to be expected when 2 versions of a 150 minute film are crammed onto 1 disc. The picture quality is not terrible but it is not great either, merely average. Colors are not as vibrant as they could be, however, this appears to be an artistic decision rather than significant of flaws in this transfer.

Audio (3 1/2/5)

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track is the default audio. Most dialogue is through the center speakers with rear speakers primarily for soundtrack music and ambient noises. I have no criticism of the audio at all, however, it is not exceptional either in any respect.

Special Features (5/5)

The first disc contains both the theatrical version and the extended, unrated version with optional audio commentary by Sandler, Rogen, and Apatow. Disc 1 also has a short gag reel (3:42) with all of the special features, including a separate gag reel, on Disc 2.

The special features on Disc 2 include all of the following:

Deleted Scenes (21:24): Scenes cut or edited down from the film are shown here.

Extended and Alternate Scenes (18:57): Some longer and alternate versions of scenes are shown here.

Gag Reel (7:27): This is longer than and different from the footage in the gag reel on Disc 1.

Line-O-Rama (4:53): Accidental and deliberate line flubs by the cast are recorded for posterity.

Documentaries (1:15:03): The three documentaries are entitled Funny People Diaries (a making-of feature with interviews with cast and crew and behind the scenes footage), Judd’s High School Radio Show, and Raaaaaaaandy!. Judd’s High School Radio Show is a brief account of Apatow’s high school hobby interviewing celebrities accompanied by photographs and audio footage. Raaaaaaandy! is a faux documentary of the stand up comic played by Aziz Ansari. Apatow is apparently developing a film based on this character with Ansari set to reprise his role as Randy.

Music (21:46): This consists of the full version of James Taylor’s performances presented in edited form in the film, as well as full versions of Sandler’s character jamming with his hired musicians and an RZA Podcast by Sandler’s costar.

From The Archives: This consists of 4 separate parts:

1) The Films of George Simmons consists of faux film footage from Simmons’ fictional movie hits Re-Do (1:31), Sayonara Davey (2:41), and Merman (1:36). Shorter snippets of this footage appeared in both versions of Funny People.

2) Adam and Judd On the Midnight Hour with Bill Maher 8/28/90 (1:00): A recognizable Sandler and an unrecognizable Apatow appear in archival footage from their appearance on Maher’s show nearly 20 years ago.

3) Adam’s First Letterman Appearance 4/4/91 (5:57): This is footage from Sandler’s first appearance on Late Night With David Letterman in 1991.

4) Seth Stand Up At Age 13 - 1995 (4:44): This is one of Rogen’s first stand up comedy performances recorded on video.

Prank Call 1990 - Annoyed Guy (2:56): This is footage of Sandler filmed by Apatow in 1990 when they were roommates at the improv. Some of this footage was cut into the beginning of Funny People as footage of a younger George Simmons (played by Sandler) making prank phone calls pre-Jerky Boys. Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo are also seen very briefly in this original footage.

"Yo Teach...!"(6:07): This consists of a clip from the fake sitcom in which Schwartzman’s character is a star in the film as well as a fake "Behind the Scenes" featurette for NBC promoting Schwartzman’s sitcom.

Conclusion (4/5)

Funny People is an amusing meditation upon the pitfalls of stand up comedy as well as a character study of a flawed human being who does not always learn the lessons he is intended to learn. Sandler’s performance as George Simmons is one of his more mature roles, and the loose ends left in this film are true reflections of life since all loose ends are not neatly tied up in reality. Although the most common criticism of Apatow’s films is that they drag on too long, this film seemed to go by very quickly for me, moreso than Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin. This film received mixed reviews but will be appreciated in time.  The compression artifacts demonstrate the space limitations of DVD technology but do not detract too much from the quality of this product. The abundance of special features on this 2-disc edition more than make up for the minor flaws in the video presentation, since these special features are truly interesting to watch and not merely filler as with many other releases. If you are a fan of Sandler and Apatow and you are ready for a change of pace from the typical Sandler formula film, then the 2-disc edition of Funny People is a must-see DVD.
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