There are certain people out there who can’t seem to separate a good, but ultimately disappointing film from a non-quality film. I read other reviews about this film, and because of the talent involved I think people’s expectations were sky high, and rightfully so. Director Judd Apatow has shown an ability to be more hit than miss, Seth Rogen has really evolved into a breakout comedy star, and the film boasts one of the sure Box-Office powerhouses in Adam Sandler. So, with all this going in, how is the actual film?
It’s very, very good if not just a tad disappointing. My expectations were through the roof, and the movie came just shy of busting through said roof. There was so much to like and ultimately not much to dislike, but there were just a couple of specific moments I found myself thinking, “If they hadn’t included this at all, this film would be absolutely fabulous.”
I’ll start off negative so we can end on a better note.
One of those sections is in the third act, and anything involving Eric Bana’s character. Bana does nothing wrong, in fact he’s quite entertaining in his brief role as the dickish Australian husband. I just found myself thinking that he wasn’t bringing anything new to the table. The relationship between George (Sandler) and Laura (Leslie Mann) had been solidified prior to Bana’s arrival into the film, and his role provided nothing more than to create an awkward situation with George, Laura, and Ira (Seth Rogen), all at Laura and Clarke’s home. We had already seen George embracing this lifestyle, playing with the kids, tormented over what he’d given up as a young man by cheating on Laura. But also George being his usual selfish self, bored during a video of one of the children, needing time away from playing with the kids.
Another somewhat unneeded character was Daisy, who provides a female romantic interest for Rogen. Again, she’s not a bad character, and she has some pretty solid banter with Rogen. She just seemed included to provide a somewhat tumultuous bit of friction between Rogen and a FANTASTIC Jason Schwartzman. Schwartzman is fabulous in his small role, playing the TV Star who thinks he’s more famous than he actually is on a generic network show. Schwartzman has some funny lines, but it’s more his mannerisms that I found gut-bustingly funny. Jonah Hill, as the other roommate, again has funny lines, and this is actually a better developed character than I’ve previously seen from him. Ira nudges him out of a writing gig with George, and he’s rightfully upset about it when it comes out. It makes Ira look selfish not only at the start but especially at the end, after developing such a tight-knit bond with the ever-popular Simmons.
The movie hits a lot of right notes. There are some wonderful cameos, and I’d hate to spoil a lot of them for you. These people play themselves, and its nice to see them add a bit of realism to the film.
The movie hits so many rights, that it’s hard to overly criticize the wrongs. The relationship between George and Ira is what drives the film at the beginning, but Simmons is just such an isolated loner millionaire movie star that it seems all his relationships are doomed to fail. His near death experience proves to only make him more selfish, wanting Laura back at all costs, even at the risk of destroying her nice little family.
Rogen is typical Rogen, perhaps a bit more subdued than some might expect from him. He isn’t someone who is just packed full of humorous quips, there’s actually a nice layer to him where he’s just trying to be a friend to George. Leslie Mann is okay as Laura, but I felt myself just a tad bored by the relationship between her and George. He almost tricks her into sympathy during his illness, and then tries to take advantage when she’s at her most vulnerable. But she goes with it, at the risk of ruining her own family, but I found her to be yet another Apatown-movie female that is pretty one-note.
The stand out of the film is Sandler, who once again proves he can do more than be a one-dimensional goofball. His character is a comedian, but there’s this inner torment brewing beneath him that almost always seems ready to snap. There are moments where you get to see George, his millions of dollars, his new bill of health, and he still just looks like a lonely guy who wants what he lost. Sandler has a couple of really powerful scenes, both involve him snapping at Ira, but he never gets to the point where he’s willing to be alone. He needs Ira because, although he might not want to admit it, Ira’s his only friend. Sandler gives a high quality performance, and it just does the same thing films like Reign Over Me and Punch-Drunk Love have done. They leave me with this hope that he’ll ultimately decide to spread his wings, do these high quality films where he can do more than scream and talk like he had a mouth full of jelly beans.
Apatow’s direction has even evolved, and he tries some new things that he obviously didn’t try in straight forward films like Knocked Up and The 40-Year Old Virgin. Instead of just setting a scene and letting the characters dictate what is said or done, he seems to take a more hands-on approach this time around, and I’m very interested to see where he goes from here.
This isn’t a movie about a movie star trying to become a movie star again. It’s about a guy trying to figure out his life. It’s a good film, but anyone expecting anything you’re used to from these names better stay the hell away. You’ll be bored. Trust me, there are plenty of penis jokes in here, but you won’t care watching the relationship between George and Ira evolve because it doesn’t involve them smoking weed or drinking to excess. This is very much a mature comedy, and who saw that coming from these guys?
- Strong performance by Sandler
- Overall, very funny
- Music was done by Schwartzman, which only adds to his brilliance in the film
- Couple of characters I could have lived without
- Runtime is a little bloated
Score: 7.9/10 (Good)