On Monday night AFI hosted a director’s screening of Funny People, this summer’s release from writer/director/comedy king Judd Apatow. Ostensibly, the film is about two stand-up comedians, one struggling to find his way up (Seth Rogen) and another struggling with cancer and the million and one ironic insecurities that come with being at the top: loneliness, co-dependency, and a free-shit storage problem (Adam Sandler).
Fans of Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin will be satisfied—the “more mature” Apatow is still really funny. Rogen, Sandler, Mann, Eric Bana, Jason Schwartzman, Jonah Hill and two handfuls of guest stars including Ray Romano, Sarah Silverman, James Taylor, and Eminem have too much fun for the film’s heavier storyline to pull it into serious drama territory, but their relationships are moving and memorable.
Those critics who didn’t love Funny People note its length (it clocks in at 2hr. 20min.), but the hour-long Q&A with Apatow held after the screening drove home that, on another level, one below the dirty jokes and the modern bromance and the cancer scare, the movie—which opens with old footage of Sandler making prank calls that Apatow has held onto for years—is about time: how you spend it, how it alone does not change you, and where you let it take you.
“What’s the rush?” asked Apatow when Ben Lyons, the discussion’s host, called for “just a few” more questions from the audience. “I’ve got nowhere to go. Is there a time limit? I mean fuck, isn’t this why we’re here?”
Funny People opens tomorrow.
Photograph by Noel Vasquez/Getty Images