Because Incurable Illness is Hilarious
Starring: Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen
By Tom Bevis
Judd Apatow has been accused of being comedy gold. While I personally find his films to be two-dimensional and overly-dependant on one-fold gags, the masses still wound up to catch it on the big screen. Apatow must have heard me talking to my friends about this very point, because his latest offering is a comedy that desperately tries to be dramatic and relevant.
The story, in short, is about a struggling stand-up comedian (Seth Rogan) who finds himself employed by a comedy icon (Adam Sandler) only to learn that his former idol is a disenchanted, antisocial hack who finds himself diagnosed with a rare and seemingly cure-less blood disease.
Like Apatow’s other pictures, the story is brisk and moves at a great pace, no scene overshadowing the other, each working hand-in-hand. It moves so fast, in fact, that the audience hardly notices the 140 minutes pass away. As far as comedies go, the technical side of the film is pretty straight-forward and not distracting in the least. It’s clear, perhaps more so then ever, that Apatow knows how to make a film and center a subject without getting side-tracked.
Along side the great pacing, the acting is top-notch. The film features on of Adam Sandler’s best and most distinctive roles as a troubled and progressively unlikable big-shot comedian. Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill work seamlessly as roommates and friends, building one of the most powerful partnerships in Hollywood, it’s only a shame the film didn’t have more scenes featuring the two together.
The film lacks, however, a certain charm present in all of Apatow’s other films: a clear and precise sense of humor. Throughout the film, the jokes vary in subject and intensity and never seem to focus to situation or circumstance. The only thing consistent is Apatow’s over-reliance on a certain male appendage in a majority of the film’s jokes. When watching Funny People, you can depend on adding dozens of new penis jokes to your repertoire as there’s one at nearly every turn.
Similar to the inconsistency of the jokes, the very level of the comedy is inconsistent as the film tries to decide if it wants to be a warm buddy comedy or a sensitive pseudo-romantic drama. Apatow’s first attempt at juggling emotions in the storyline of the film proves a critical failure. The scenes attempting to be dramatic or romantic often times seem too forced and terse, and the funny scenes are too slow from dragging the failed drama.
This imbalance is easily the film’s weakest point. However, if you can overcome a few minutes of rough drama and a few minutes of failed romance, the rest of the film and its comedy should be able to tide you though. And if you like toilet jokes, then the film was definitely made for you.