Usually I use this column to praise films that I admire but this week I’m going to do what film critics do best and bitch about the films that disappointed me in the summer of 2009.
1. FUNNY PEOPLE (2009)
Directed by Judd Apatow
Starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann
Released by Universal Pictures
I usually love the silly and fun- loving stories Judd Apatow brings to the screen (40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked up) but Funny People was Apatow’s first project that I didn’t walk away from the theater completely in love with. The problem with Funny People is it’s so uneven. Adam Sandler does prove as he did in Punch Drunk Love that as he’s actually quite a talented dramatic actor. Seth Rogen meanwhile plays yet another smart ass and seriously dude, it’s starting to get a little stale.
At 146 minutes the film is also WAY too long. I know Leslie Mann is Apatow’s wife but her role as the one who got away, for instance, could have been slimmed down considerably without any sort of loss to the plot. Funny People is about of an aging comedian George (Sandler) who learns he has terminal cancer and tries to make over what he has left of his life.
With a subject matter like death you can tell Apatow’s trying to potentially move towards films that aren’t just a collection of penis jokes and stoner references and I respect him for that. I just don’t think he’s there quite yet.
2. BRUNO (2009)
Directed by Larry Charles
Starring Sasha Baron Cohen
Released by Universal Pictures
Borat was such a phenomenon that I remember when my boyfriend and I went to see it people where trying to scalp tickets in the line. I remember sitting in the theater and laughing so hard I was crying.
I know it’s completely unfair and unrealistic to expect the next project any artist works on after achieving enormous success to be as strong but I couldn’t help myself, I had huge expectations for Bruno. After seeing the trailer in the spring was convinced that I would be just as blown away. Yet when I saw it in the theater this summer the most it got out of me was a mild chuckle.
With a much more scripted feeling this time around the jokes felt flat to me. Borat was just as crude as Bruno but, I don’t know, this time the crudeness bothered me. The scene where Bruno is pitching his TV idea (those who’ve seen the film know exactly which scene I’m talking about) was particularly disgusting to me.
I guess in the end I felt like Cohen and director Charles where trying too hard with this film to recreate the success of Borat and as we all know this method usually doesn’t produce the best results.
3. TAKING WOODSTOCK (2009)
Directed by Ang Lee
Starring Demetri Martin
Released by Focus Features
With films like Sense and Sensibility and Brokeback Mountain, I’ve always had an enormous appreciation for Ang Lee. I was intrigued by the idea of how a master of melodrama would handle a comedy about one of the greatest concerts of all time. Sadly the film just didn’t do it for me. Honestly Taking Woodstock is little more then an endless stream of montages of hippies wellâ€¦ being hippies. It’s not all a waste of time, as in every Lee film the cinematography is amazing and Liev Schreiber gives the film’s best performance as the cross-dressing bodyguard Vilma.