Funny People is the kind of movie that needs special features. Unlike Judd Apatow’s previous films (The 40-Year-Old
Virgin, Knocked Up) the high concept isn’t immediately apparent from the title. On first watch, it’s still not clear. The main drama – stand-up comedian gets a life-threatening disease, tries to come to terms with the decisions he’s made – is resolved at around the half-way point. It’s
as if Steve Carrell got laid 60 minutes into 40-Year-Old Virgin. But when you listen to the commentary and watch the stunning four-part ‘Diaries’ doc, you finally realise what it’s actually about. Funny People is Judd Apatow’s most personal movie. It’s his life, onscreen.
Before watching this Blu-ray, you probably wouldn’t know that Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler grew up together. Or that Judd used to film Sandler’s prank phone calls when they were students (that’s the footage we see in the opening moments of the movie). We especially didn’t know
that Judd used to rock a massive mullet during his stand-up days. The documentary is incredible, completely revealing and packed with once-in-a-lifetime footage. Whether we’re watching Seth Rogen performing stand-up at the age of 13, or Adam Sandler watching his first TV performances with his pals in 1987, the level of access is astounding. Brilliantly, you can also watch the performances in full elsewhere on the disc.
There’s plenty more to recommend, but it’s that ‘Diaries’ doc that’s key. In it, Apatow reads messages he’s written into his phone.
“Don’t let everyone beat you into being a slave to logic and arcs. Surprise them and yourself. No simple bromance. Don’t try so hard to be liked with this. It’s okay to hit people in the gut. Give them what they need, not what they want. It shouldn’t be ‘comedians are miserable’ movie or ‘behind the sad clown’ movie, it should be so real and specific that all people relate to it...”
Hearing that mission statement brings the movie sharply into focus. You suddenly realise that if this film was French and subtitled, it would be hailed as an absolute masterpiece. Both the yak-track and the doc are like keys that unlock warmth and depth that may have been missed on the
first watch. They do exactly what special features are meant to do; they support and add to the experience of watching the movie. Through them, Funny People is revealed as one of the films of the year, making this one of the Blu-rays of the year. And that’s no joke.
Stunning documentary, great commentary, deleted scenes, stand-up footage and much more – this is a seriously essential buy!.