x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Funny People

If it took only half of a movie for a good night out, this one would be a sure thing.

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The idea of Adam Sandler playing a wildly successful but self-loathing comedian who is suffering from a potentially terminal illness and seeks redemption from a bumbling nobody (Seth Rogen) is quite interesting. What happens when he finds his screechy ex-girlfriend (Leslie Mann) and attempts to patch up old wounds, though, is less so. This is a film of two parts, which have been clumsily tacked together to make a 146-minute story about a thoroughly unlikeable character, George (Sandler), who remains thus despite his supposedly edifying dance with death. It is a shame, because it starts so well, with a great first half-hour, in which the glamour and loneliness of George's life is brilliantly portrayed. Sandler, too, is excellent as a miserable King Midas type whose success has backfired on him to the extent that he has to hire someone - Ira (Rogen) - to confide in about his illness. Before long, though, the film starts to feel cluttered, with unnecessary star-studded scenes (featuring Ray Romano and Eminem) seemingly there to display Apatow's Hollywood clout, and a dithering romance between Ira and Daisy, another comedian, needlessly thrown in. As things start to drag, there is welcome relief in the form of Eric Bana as Laura's testosterone-fuelled Australian husband. But the outcome for George feels like a cop-out, if only because it means even more of Sandler talking in that stupid squeaky voice.