By Kim Hollis
February 25, 2009
Well, this looks like a slickly-produced Uwe Boll film. But it's not! For starters, the effects are simply too good. They're pretty akin to what you might see on any given episode of Battlestar Galactica, which is to say, they're not super duper high quality but they don't suck, either.
What does suck? John Malkovich, who couldn't be phoning it in any worse. Lacking in any inflection whatsoever, the trailer consists of a conversation between Malkovich's character (I have no idea who he is or where he fits into the story) and Ron Perlman, who seems to be a monk or priest with a bad Irish accent. The two are discussing the fact that the world seems to be infested by mutant zombie creatures, and it might be time to start evacuating the Earth. Perlman's character disagrees with this notion, because there is a team out there that can take the mutants down. This team includes Thomas Jane, Devon Aoki, and a bunch of other people I don't really recognize.
The action is actually kind of okay here, but the acting and the vagueness of the trailer lead me to believe that it's probably going to be a pretty crappy movie. If Malkovich can't muster up any enthusiasm, you've got to know you're in some trouble. Still, I give props to the person who cut the preview, since it does a solid job of making the movie look better than it likely is.
It would be easy for Judd Apatow to stagnate in the world of bawdy sex comedy. He's had smashing success directing The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, and he's basically become a cottage franchise unto himself, producing and/or writing such flicks as Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Step Brothers, Talladega Nights and You Don't Mess With the Zohan.
That's why it's so wonderful to see that it looks like Apatow is taking things to a new level with Funny People. Yes, the movie features such tried and true performers from the Apatow crew such as Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill and Leslie Mann, but this movie feels like it's for grown-ups. Honestly, it almost has a Cameron Crowe feel to it, and I mean that in the kindest possible way.
The movie looks to begin as we meet a famous stand-up comedian who looks an awful lot like Adam Sandler, but is named George. Another lesser-known comedian named Ira (Rogen) follows his act, and the two make a connection. George asks Ira to write some material for him as he seems to want to take the younger performer under his wing. Soon, George reveals to Ira that he has a terminal and incurable health condition, and they begin to form a real friendship.
The trailer for Funny People is very genuine and has a number of laugh-out-loud moments (the Die Hard joke kills). I'd been worried that perhaps Apatow might be losing his magic touch a bit - and that Rogen's shtick might be wearing thin - but if this preview for Funny People is any indication, I'll be in the front row on opening night.