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Blu-ray Review HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Funny People - 2 Disc Unrated Collector's Edition

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Kevin EK, Nov 26, 2009.

  1. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer

    May 9, 2003
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    Studio: Universal
    Film Year: 2009
    Film Length: 2 hours 26 mins (Theatrical Cut) 2 hours 33 mins (Unrated Cut)
    Genre: Comedy/Drama
    Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
    BD Resolution: 1080p
    BD Video Codec: AVC (@ an average 25 mbps)
    Color/B&W: Color
    English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (@ an average 3.5 mbps)
    French, Spanish, Spanish DTS 5.1
    Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
    Film Rating: R & Unrated (Language, Crude Sexual Humor, Sexuality)
    Release Date: November 24, 2009
    Starring: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman
    Written and Directed by: Judd Apatow
    Film Rating:    2 ½/5  
    Funny People is the latest production from the Judd Apatow comedy factory and the first time he’s sat in the director’s chair since Knocked Up. As with other other Apatow productions, there’s a specific flavor and style to the proceedings, and a stock company of actors that tend to appear, including Apatow’s wife Leslie Mann (who’s quite good here), Apatow’s daughters Maude and Iris, Seth Rogen (who looks like he’s lost a lot of weight), and, of course, Jonah Hill (who looks like he’s gained a serious amount of weight since his last film).  This film centers on the performance of Adam Sandler, who essentially plays himself as George Simmons, a comedian now usually found in simple Hollywood fluff vehicles, but has a deep chasm within himself. In the opening moments of the film, he is diagnosed with a terminal disease, and things initially look interesting as he tries to go back to his stand-up roots and help a young comedian (Seth Rogen).   For the first time in an Apatow film, there’s a darker, more serious edge to the proceedings (helped a bit here by the cinematography of Janusz Kaminski), and Sandler actually delivers an edgy performance here. But rather than really explore this story, Apatow steers the story in another direction – an examination of the older comedian mentoring the younger comedian, only to drop that in favor of a third direction – Simmons’ attempt to rekindle a relationship with an old flame (Mann). Any one of these threads could have been the center of a good movie, but none of them is examined in enough depth to hold the film together. By the time the film has completed its two and a half hour running time, the viewer is left wondering about what it’s all been about.   There have been some solid performances, particularly Sandler, Mann and Eric Bana as Mann’s husband, but the whole affair feels quite indulgent. Fans of Judd Apatow’s line of films, as well as of Adam Sandler, will want to rent this disc, but this is not the kind of crossover hit that Knocked Up was.  
    Funny People has been released this week both on standard DVD and Blu-ray. The Blu-ray release is a 2-disc affair, with one disc containing both the Theatrical Cut and an Extended Cut running about 7 minutes longer. (It’s a bit tricky to access the Extended Cut. For some reason, the trigger for it is kept within the Extras menu, rather than on a front screen.) A commentary for both editions and a generous amount of special features have been included across both discs.
    VIDEO QUALITY   3 ½/5
    Funny People is presented in a 1080p AVC 1.85:1 transfer that tends toward the darker part of the palette, which is appropriate given both the choice of Kaminski as the cameraman and the frequent staging of scenes at stand-up comedy venues.   There are some lovely shots here and there (particularly the intense blue of Simmons’ swimming pool, and the artifice of a MySpace event), but the look of the film is nothing that will knock your socks off. It’s a fine HD transfer of a well-photographed film, nothing more and nothing less. I should note that I am watching the film on a 40” Sony XBR2 HDTV. If anyone is watching the film on a larger monitor and is having issues, please post them on this thread.
    AUDIO QUALITY   3 ½/5
    Funny People is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English, as well as standard DTS mixes in French and Spanish. The DTS-HD MA mix provides clear dialogue from the front channels (which is appropriate given the nature of the film) and filters the frequent atmospheric effects, songs and music through the surrounds. Again, this is nothing that will give your home theater a major workout, but it isn’t that kind of film anyway. It does its job well, without making a big deal out of it.
    The Blu-Ray presentation of Funny People comes loaded with special features. If anything, there’s almost TOO MUCH here to digest, given the slightness of the material. But I have to admit Judd Apatow packs his DVDs with content. Not only do you get two versions of the film, you get a scene-specific commentary, gag reels, alternate line reels, deleted scenes, alternate versions of scenes, an hour plus behind-the scenes documentary, two “mockumentaries” about characters in the movie, several complete musical performances, several stand-up performances, almost 20 minutes of archival prank phone calls by Sandler and Apatow from 1990, a Charlie Rose interview, the theatrical trailer and a few assorted odds and ends. There is also some BD-Live functionality, including the “My Scenes” bookmarking feature, the “My Chat” feature for texting while watching the film, and the “My Commentary” feature allowing you to record your own commentary and share it online. A U-control feature allows the viewer to bring up IDs of the various songs heard throughout the movie while they are playing in the soundtrack.   So if you wanted to learn anything about this movie, this double pile of extras should suffice.
    On Disc 1:
    First, I will again note that there are two different versions of the film here.  When you put the disc in the player, you’ll go to the standard menu screen. (At different times, I actually saw some random previews generated, but most times I just went to the main screen.) If you just select “Play”, you’ll get the theatrical cut. IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE UNRATED CUT, GO TO THE “EXTRAS” SCREEN AND SELECT IT. Sorry to shout, but I got confused about this myself and wanted to spare others the same situation.
    Feature Commentary with Judd Apatow, Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen – This scene-specific group commentary is included with both versions of the film (with a few minutes extra, obviously, over the longer sections of the unrated cut). It’s a fairly chummy affair, given that Apatow is really good friends with both of his fellow speakers here, and they clearly get along. Things start off with Sandler introducing himself as Aaron Sorkin and Rogen introducing himself as Alfonso Cuaron, and get a bit gigglier after that. It’s clear from listening to their discussion here that their focus was not on the serious moments in this film. They discuss those scenes as being the more difficult ones to do, and the production days that they didn’t enjoy. But they do provide a lot of observations about what was actually happening on set as each seen goes by. This is not one of the more in-depth commentaries I’ve ever heard, but there’s some interesting stuff here if you listen for it.
    U-Control Music Guide – This Blu-ray U-Control feature allows you to see information about the various songs being played on the soundtrack as they are heard.
    Gag Reels (1080p, 5:53 and 5:20) – Two gag reels are included here, in high definition. This is pretty much what you would expect – people blowing their lines and cracking up. The highlight is the cameo appearance by Eminem, who is unable to keep a straight face for very long in this environment.  
    Line-O-Rama pts 1 & 2 (1080p, 4:53 and 5:46) – Two bursts of the standard Apatow feature are included here. When Apatow films scenes, he will usually keep the camera rolling and have the cast deliver several alternate line options for their dialogue. The alternate choices get collected and played for the viewer in these two assemblies. Pretty much everyone in the cast gets in on this act, even the German doctor...  
    Funny People Diaries (1080p, 1:15:06 Total) – This production documentary is broken into four parts, but is best viewed as a single coherent piece. Judd Apatow takes the viewer all the way from his initial ideas of making the movie, through a lot of brief pieces from his production diaries on the set, through the post-production and preview process.   The highlight here is the live stand-up routines the cast agreed to prepare and perform as part of their work on the film.  The documentary shows Apatow, Sandler, Rogen, Jonah Hill and others performing live at the Improv and various other places, culminating in the “Funny People Live” event which is excerpted on the 2nd Disc. 
    On Disc 2:
    Deleted Scenes (1080p, 48:24 Total) – Over 48 minutes of deleted scenes are collected here, which bears out a statement by Judd Apatow on the Disc 1 documentary that his first cut of the movie was 3 hours and 15 minutes long.  
    Alternate and Extended Scenes (1080p, 1:06:19 Total) – Over an hour of alternate and extended versions of scenes are included here. For me, the highlight is the complete version of the Eminem scene, just for its complete incongruity with the rest of the film.
    In the Documentaries Section:
    Raaaaaaaandy! (1080p, 21:32) – This mockumentary focuses on the stand-up comedian character played by Aziz Ansari in the film – who essentially embodies all the tics and obnoxious habits that most stand-up comedians cannot stand.  This has previously been available via the internet at Funny or Die.  
    Judd’s High School Radio Show (480p, Full Frame, 3:37) – This brief featurette covers the high school comedy interview show that Judd Apatow put together in his youth. Some sound clips from the show are intercut with Apatow’s recollections.
    James Taylor Behind the Scenes (1080p, 6:55) – This is a production diary for the shoot day where James Taylor appeared to perform several songs at a staged MySpace event, and play a single scene with Seth Rogen.  
    In the Music From Funny People Section:
    James Taylor (1080p, 27:21 Total) – James Taylor’s MySpace event performances are collected here in their entirety. His band plays six songs in all: “Carolina On My Mind”, “Shower the People”, “Secret O’ Life”, “You’ve Got a Friend”, “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely” and the song actually used in the film, “Fire and Rain”.  
    Jon Brion with Adam Sandler (1080p, 14:15 Total) – Pulled from a bit in the film where George Simmons hires Jon Brion and session musicians to jam with him at home, this is a collection of three songs played by the group and sung by Adam Sandler: “Photograph”, “Real People” (which is the one used in the film), and “Save It For Later”.
    Adam Sandler (1080p, 4:41) – Here we have the complete performance of a noodling piano song concocted by Adam Sandler in a stand-up scene in the movie. Titled “George Will Be Gone Soon”, the song is self-explanatory.
    RZA Podcast (1080p, 3:49) – This is a misleading title for what is actually a bit of behind-the-scenes video of RZA on the deli set with Seth Rogen and in his trailer. The only bit of music to be found here is RZA’s improvised rap about his work on the movie, which he delivers from the confines of his dressing room
    In the Stand-Up Section.  
    Funny People Live! (480p, Anamorphic, 42:16 Total) –  Stand-up performances from the Funny People Live! event are collected here, as previewed in the Disc 1 documentary.  This assembly comes in two parts, and also contains clips from the film and interview material with Apatow and Sandler.
    George Simmons Standup at MySpace (1080p, 8:04) – Adam Sandler’s stand-up routine in the persona of George Simmons at the film’s MySpace event, is included here.
    Raaaaaaaandy at the Improv (1080p, 5:47) – Aziz Anzari’s performance as Randy at the Improv is included here.  
    Ira at the Improv (1080p, 7:02) – Seth Rogen’s stand-up routine as his character Ira at the Improv is included here.  
    In the Archives Section:
    Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow on The Midnight Hour with Bill Maher (480p, Full Frame, 1:00) – A one minute clip is included from Sandler and Apatow’s appearance on Bill Maher’s show on August 28, 1990, before Sandler had even broken through on Saturday Night Live and before Apatow had broken though on The Larry Sanders Show.  
    Adam Sandler on David Letterman (480p, Full Frame, 5:58 and 6:01) – Adam Sandler’s first two stand-up appearances on Late Night with David Letterman are included here, from April 14, 1991 and September 10, 1991, respectively.   (These would have been easy for him to set up, since Letterman’s show is taped during the week in New York, and Sandler could fit that in with what was then his first year with Saturday Night Live.)
    Adam Sandler at the Comedy and Magic Club (480p, Full Frame, 4:45) – Adam Sandler’s 1988 appearance at the Comedy and Magic Club is included here, predating pretty much everything else on this DVD.
    Seth Rogen at 13 (480p, Full Frame, 4:40) – A video of Seth Rogen doing a stand-up routine at age 13 is included here for archival purposes. Two shocking facts about this video: one, Rogen’s voice is much higher than it is now; and two, this was in 1995! (Yes, you are that old.).  
    Judd Apatow on The Dennis Miller Show (480p, Full Frame, 4:48) – Judd Apatow’s stand-up appearance on Dennis Miller’s HBO show is included here, from around the time when Apatow was working on The Larry Sanders Show.
    Further Special Features of Disc 2:
    The Films of George Simmons (1080p, 6:45 Total) – Clips from the various Hollywood comedy hits of George Simmons are assembled here, including Re-Do (he’s transformed into a baby, but with his head and brain intact), Sayonara Davey, Merman, The Champion (he’s a hot-dog eating champ), and Dog’s Best Friend. One has to wonder if Sandler had any flashbacks to the real movies he has made (like The Waterboy) while doing these send-ups…
    Prank Calls (480p, Full Frame, 18:23 Total) – Nearly 20 minutes of videotaped prank phone calls are included here. These are bits of “Jerky Boy” humor as inflicted by Sandler and Apatow on unsuspecting companies and operators they would call up from their apartment in 1990. Some of this footage is actually used at the very beginning of the movie…
    Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler on Charlie Rose (480p, Full Frame, 57:30) – Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow’s appearance on the Charlie Rose interview program on July 31, 2009 is included here.
     “Yo Teach…!” (1080p, 8:03 Total) – A quick mockumentary and snippets from 5 episodes are included here in high definition from the television schoolroom comedy that Jason Schwartzman’s character stars in. In the movie, Schwartzman’s character has lucked into getting the lead in a TV sitcom modeled after a modern day Welcome Back, Kotter and Jonah Hill’s character lucks into a recurring role for himself. Episodes like “MC Shakespeare” give the flavor of a really, really bad sitcom.
    Kids on the Loose: The Sequel (1080p, 5:06) – As with the Knocked Up DVD and Blu-ray, we get an assembly of footage of Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann’s daughters Maude and Iris at work and play on the set.  
    ADR Line-O-Rama (1080p, 2:50) – As an adjunct to the Line-O-Ramas from Disc 1, this feature presents various clips from the film with overdubbed alternative punchlines.  
    George in Love (1080p, 2:04) – Two sex scenes between George Simmons and female fans from an early sequence in the film, are included here in more depth. It’s clear from these outtakes that everyone involved is having a difficult time keeping a straight face.  
    Trailer (1080p, 3:07) – The movie’s theatrical trailer, running almost twice the length of a typical trailer, is included here in high definition..  
    IN THE END...
    Funny People is not as successful a film as the earlier efforts of Judd Apatow, but it does have some solid performances and the trademark Apatow brand of humor. Fans of Adam Sandler or the Apatow line will likely want to rent this. Fans of this film will want to purchase this Blu-ray as it is absolutely packed with extras. More casual fans may simply be overwhelmed. (I’m beginning to understand what the reviewers of the Lord of the Rings DVDs went through…)
    Kevin Koster
    November 26, 2009.

  2. Sam Davatchi

    Sam Davatchi Producer

    Sep 15, 1999
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    I got this last week and was going to watch it tonight. I thought entering Play it will give me the option to play the Theatrical or the Unrated like any other normal release but the movie started automatically with no choice. Thinking it must be the Unrated by default I watched a little before checking the remaining time and I realized it's the Theatrical Cut. I started to check where on earth I can find the Unrated version, checking the 2 Disc and everywhere until I see this topic.

    So, why on earth they make this so difficult?
  3. Kevin EK

    Kevin EK Producer

    May 9, 2003
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    Congratulations Sam. You have just entered the world of frustration I dealt with when putting this review together. I feel your pain...
  4. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

    Nov 15, 2004
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    The basement of the FBI building
    I just finished the first disc and if that was all of the content, I'd be somewhat impressed but that there's a second disc is just crazy (in a good way). This is an excellent release of a very underrated movie.

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