Funny People

Funny People is a 2009 American black comedy-drama film written and directed by Judd Apatow, co-produced by Apatow Productions and Madison 23 Productions, and starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, and Jason Schwartzman. The film follows a famous comedian who is diagnosed with a terminal disease and tries to fix the relationships in his life while befriending an aspiring comedian.

Funny People
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJudd Apatow
Produced by
Written byJudd Apatow
Music by
CinematographyJanusz Kamiński
Edited by
Distributed byUniversal Pictures[1]
Release date
  • July 20, 2009 (2009-07-20) (Los Angeles)
  • July 31, 2009 (2009-07-31) (United States)
Running time
146 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Budget$75 million[4]
Box office$71.6 million[4]

The film was released on July 31, 2009. It received praise for the performances but criticism for its runtime, and grossed $71 million against its $75 million budget.


George Simmons is a middle-aged retired stand-up comedian turned movie star. Despite his wealth, he is disillusioned and depressed as most of his recent film work is low-brow and poorly received. Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, he is offered an experimental treatment that has only an 8% success rate. Believing he is about to die, he returns to his roots of stand-up comedy.

Ira Wright is an aspiring stand-up comedian in his 20s, sharing an apartment with his two best friends, Mark and Leo. Mark successfully leads his own TV comedy series. Leo is a rising comedy star and recurring guest star on Mark's TV show.

George meets Ira at a small comedy club, first hiring him as his assistant, Ira becomes one of George's only close relationships. Later he becomes his joke writer, opening for him in big comedy clubs, often meeting with real life comedians who talk about the comedy business.

George reconnects with his ex-fiancée, Laura, currently married to Clarke. Once his physician tells him the leukemia is in remission, George decides he wants Laura back. Laura invites George and Ira to her house in Marin County while her husband is away on business. They spend quality time with Laura and her two young daughters. George and Laura sneak off to have sex, Clarke returns home and there is an altercation.

Laura faces a choice between her husband Clarke, who she suspects has cheated on her (he later confirms he received a happy ending at a massage parlor), or George (who also cheated on her many times). Ira is not always on George's side in the love triangle, so when it doesn't go George's way in the end, he fires Ira, who then calls George out on having learned nothing from his near-death experience.

Ira returns to his old food-service job. After some time has passed, George attends Ira's stand-up act and sees that his old assistant has become a talented and competent performer. The next day, George finds Ira at work and they reconnect as friends, telling each other jokes as equals.


Leslie Mann, Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow in Berlin (2009)

Dave Attell, Sarah Silverman, Norm Macdonald, Paul Reiser, Tom Anderson, Charles Fleischer, George Wallace, and Andy Dick made cameo appearances as themselves in the roles of George's fellow comedians.[5] Rapper Eminem,[6] comedian Ray Romano, musician James Taylor,[7] MADtv member Nicole Parker,[8] and newcomer Bo Burnham[9] also appeared in small roles. Undeclared alum Carla Gallo had a cameo in the film as a character on Yo Teach!, the television show within the film that Mark stars in,[10] while Justin Long and Apatow regular Ken Jeong have cameos in the film as characters in movies for which George is famous.[11] Owen Wilson and Elizabeth Banks are featured on posters for fake movies in which George starred.[12] Bryan Batt makes an appearance as George's agent. Musicians Jon Brion, Sebastian Steinberg, and James Gadson appear in the film as members of George's jam band. Comedians Rod Man, Budd Friedman, Monty Hoffman, Mark Schiff, Orny Adams, Al Lubel, and Jerry Minor appear as themselves. Comedian/producer/writer Carol Leifer appears as herself.


Judd Apatow had expressed his desire to make a stand-up comedian mentor film loosely based on his own early experiences as a struggling performer. He could not come up with an interesting idea, however, since most of his mentors were kind to him. He then thought of making a film about a mentor facing a life crisis, and decided to cast his former roommate Adam Sandler after seeing him in Reign Over Me. They discussed making the film almost two years prior to production.[13]

Apatow had cast Sandler, Seth Rogen, and Leslie Mann as the three leads in March 2008.[14] Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, and Jason Schwartzman were cast in June 2008 when the title of the film was announced. When asked about the decision to cast Bana, Apatow said that both he and Rogen are fans of his films; Rogen additionally commented they cast him as the husband because he was someone who would be considered an intimidating presence to both Sandler and Rogen.[15] Bana mentioned that he decided to play the character with his native Australian accent so he would be more comfortable improvising.[16] Apatow and Mann's daughters, Maude and Iris Apatow, play the young girls in the film. Both Apatow and Mann state that this casting choice allowed for more natural dialogue for the children, but the girls have not been allowed to actually see the film.[17]

Academy Award-winning cinematographer Janusz Kamiński handled the cinematography for the film. Apatow had Sandler, Rogen, and Hill write their own material for routines. Apatow filmed them performing their routines in front of live audiences, using six cameras to capture their performances and audience reactions. Apatow filmed their entire performances, although only five to ten minutes of stand-up footage appear in the film. Hill admitted his performance was not well-received because he had never done stand-up before. Additionally, Apatow filmed scenes from Sandler's character's fictional filmography, as well as scenes from Schwartzman's character's fictional television show Yo Teach!, for the film to add realism.[18]

Apatow used an old video of Sandler, from when the two were roommates, in which Sandler makes prank phone calls, and features a young Ben Stiller and Janeane Garofalo.


The first teaser poster[19] for the film was released November 13, 2008. On the day the teaser poster was released, Universal Pictures and MySpace partnered together to create a contest that would allow people to have a part in the film by just writing a comment explaining why. Additionally, Apatow held a stand-up comedy concert event called "A Night of Funny People" at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles to film a scene for the movie. The event was open to the general public and featured acts by Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Aziz Ansari, Sarah Silverman, David Spade, and Patton Oswalt, with Sandler, Rogen, and Ansari performing as their characters in the film. The first theatrical trailer for the film was released February 20, 2009 on the Internet, with a shortened version first appearing in theaters with I Love You, Man.

A website for a fictional television show-within-a-film was created on[20] The sitcom, Yo Teach!, "stars" character Mark Taylor Jackson (Jason Schwartzman), a C-list actor portraying a young teacher with a class of failing students, and includes a cameo by internet celebrity Bo Burnham.[21]

A website for Aziz Ansari's character Randy Springs was created, along with a documentary of the character on The documentary was directed by Jason Woliner.

Comedy Central aired a special, "Inside Funny People" on July 20, documenting the making of the film and showing clips of the stand-up. The channel also aired "Funny People: Live" on July 24, which is a live broadcast stand-up of Sandler, Rogen and Hill as part of the film's promotion.


Funny People premiered on July 20, 2009, in Los Angeles, California.[22] It was released in all territories by Universal Pictures.

Home mediaEdit

Funny People was released on DVD and Blu-ray in the United States on November 24, 2009. There is a one-disc "Unrated & Theatrical" cut and a two-disc "Unrated Edition". The Unrated cut of the film runs at 153 minutes. It was released in the United Kingdom on January 18, 2010.[23]


Box officeEdit

Funny People grossed $51.9 million in the United States and Canada and $19.7 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $71.6 million, against a production budget of $50 million.[4] In comparison, Apatow's previous directorial effort, Knocked Up, cost $33 million to produce and made over $219 million in gross receipts, while Sandler's last three movies had all made over $100 million.[24]

In North America the film was released on July 31, 2009 in 3,007 theaters. It grossed $8.6 million on its opening day and $22.7 million in its opening weekend, finishing first at the box office.[4]

Critical responseEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 69% based on 237 reviews and an average rating of 6.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Funny People features the requisite humor, as well as considerable emotional depth, resulting in Judd Apatow's most mature film to date."[25] Another review aggregator, Metacritic, gave the film a score of 60 out of 100, based on 36 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[26] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale.[27]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film 3½ stars of four, calling it "a real movie. That means carefully written dialogue and carefully placed supporting performances — and it's about something. It could have easily been a formula film...but George Simmons learns and changes during his ordeal, and we empathize." It is the highest rating Ebert ever gave an Adam Sandler film, tied with his review for Punch-Drunk Love.[28] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone also praised the film, writing, "Apatow scores by crafting the film equivalent of a stand-up routine that encompasses the joy, pain, anger, loneliness and aching doubt that go into making an audience laugh."[29] Kyle Smith of the New York Post wrote that the film was "one of the most absorbing films of the year."[30]

Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune gave the film one of its mixed reviews, complaining of the film's two-and-a-half-hour running time: "Funny People attempt by Apatow to reconcile the huge success he has become with the up-and-comer he once was. The results run an increasingly exasperating 2½ hours.".[31]

Manohla Dargis of the New York Times complains the film is "irritatingly self-satisfied" and describes the film as "nice" ... "but nice can be murder on comedy and drama alike".[32]

Gene Shalit of NBC's The Today Show stated that it's "a smirk of faithful characters that are making a vanity movie about themselves that keeps not ending for 2 1/2 unendurable hours. Director Judd Apatow wrote the script and it's vulgar, in fact it's ineffable, because without the letter F, he would have no script."[33]


Funny People: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedJuly 28, 2009
LabelConcord Records
Professional ratings
Review scores
PopMatters           Link

Funny People: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was released on July 28, 2009.

  1. "Great Day" by Paul McCartney (2:08)
  2. "Wires" by Coconut Records (2:26)
  3. "All the King's Horses" by Robert Plant and the Strange Sensation (4:19)
  4. "Carolina in My Mind" (Live) by James Taylor (4:58)
  5. "Keep Me in Your Heart" by Warren Zevon (3:27)
  6. "Real Love" by John Lennon performed by Adam Sandler (4:56)
  7. "We (Early Take)" by Neil Diamond (4:11)
  8. "Jesus, Etc." (Live Summer '08) by Wilco feat. Andrew Bird (4:01)
  9. "George Simmons Soon Will Be Gone" by Adam Sandler (2:15)
  10. "I Am Young" by Coconut Records (3:07)
  11. "Memory" by Maude Apatow & Larry Goldings (3:53)
  12. "Numb as a Statue" by Warren Zevon (4:07)
  13. "Photograph" by Ringo Starr (3:58)
  14. "Watching the Wheels" (Acoustic Demo) by John Lennon (3:06)

Bonus tracks on iTunes release:

  1. "Secret O' Life (Live)" by James Taylor (3:55)
  2. "Photograph" (Live) by Adam Sandler (2:55)
  3. "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" by Adam Sandler (4:02)
  4. "Nighttiming" by Coconut Records (2:48)

The film also features "Joanna" by Kool & The Gang, "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley, "Diamond Dave" by The Bird and the Bee, "Man in the Box" by Alice in Chains, "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" by Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes, "Walk Like an Egyptian" by The Bangles, "In Private" by Paul McCartney, "Cat Song" by Tomoko Kataoka and "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)" by George Harrison. Songs from all four former members of The Beatles are in the film and on its soundtrack.

The Blu-ray and 2-Disc DVD includes a jam session of Sandler and Jon Brion performing "Real Love", "Photograph" and an unreleased cover of The English Beat's "Save It for Later." (The band's original 1982 version of the song is used in the movie.)

Additional songs used in the film's trailers are "We Will Become Silhouettes" by The Postal Service, "My Friend" by Dr. Dog, and "Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway (Again)" by Wilco.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Funny People (2009)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved May 28, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Funny People (2009)". British Film Institute (BFI).
  3. ^ "FUNNY PEOPLE (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 2009-07-23. Retrieved 2012-11-12.
  4. ^ a b c d "Funny People (2009)". Box Office Mojo.
  5. ^ "Stand-Up Comedian Cameos in Judd Apatow's Funny People". 2008-12-17. Archived from the original on 2009-01-29. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
  6. ^ "Eminem In New Judd Apatow "Funny People" Movie". Rap Basement. 2009-05-16. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
  7. ^ Mark Shanahan and Paysha Rhone (2009-01-08). "Taylors turn to film". The Boston Globe. Globe Newspaper Company. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
  8. ^ "MADtv's Nicole Parker Joins Wicked as Elphaba Beginning January 16". 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
  9. ^ "From YouTube to Hollywood".
  10. ^ "Carla Gallo Exclusive Video Interview". 2009-01-09. Archived from the original on 2009-08-27. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
  11. ^ "Dr. Kuni Speaks". 2009-03-04. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
  12. ^ "Judd Apatow Reveals Adam Sandler's 'Funny' Films With Owen Wilson, Elizabeth Banks and More". MTV Movie Blog. 2009-05-11. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  13. ^ "Funny People Set Visit: Judd Apatow". 2009-04-07. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
  14. ^ Fleming, Michael (2008-03-09). "Sandler reteams with Apatow". Variety. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
  15. ^ "Eric Bana teaches AFL to Seth Rogan". The West Australian. 2009-03-05. Archived from the original on 2009-08-11. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
  16. ^ "Australians Are Extra Insane: Bana". Empire Online. 2009-04-08. Retrieved 2009-05-08.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Funny People: Judd Apatow & Leslie Mann on Their Child Actors | Hollywood Mom Blog". 2009-12-05. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
  18. ^ "Judd Apatow Wants You To 'Enjoy The Ride' Of 'Funny People' For 2.5 Hours...Then Watch The Super-Long DVD". MTV Movie Blog. 2009-05-07. Retrieved 2009-05-08.
  19. ^ "First Film Poster for Funny People". Archived from the original on 24 July 2015. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  20. ^ McWeeny, Drew (2009-05-30). "TMR: Yo Teach goes viral and Toy Story 3 teaser premieres". Retrieved 2012-02-17.
  21. ^ "Bo Burnham Gets Schooled in Yo Teach — Online Video News". 2009-05-29. Retrieved 2012-02-17.
  22. ^ "Apatow's "Funny People" Based on Real Life". CBS News. 2009-07-29. Retrieved 2015-06-15.
  23. ^ " Funny People (Two-Disc Unrated Collector's Edition): Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jason Schwartzman, Torsten Voges, RZA, Jonah Hill, Aziz Ansari, Iris Apatow, Maude Apatow, Aubrey Plaza, Janusz Kaminski, Michael Andrews, Judd Apatow, Brent White, Craig Alpert: Movies & TV".
  24. ^ "Adam Sandler".
  25. ^ "Funny People". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster, Warner Bros. April 19, 2018.
  26. ^ "Funny People". Metacritic. CBS. 2009-08-10.
  27. ^ "CinemaScore". Archived from the original on 2015-04-05.
  28. ^ Roger Ebert (2009-07-29). "Give me a break, folks -- I'm a guy dyin' up here!". Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  29. ^ Peter Travers (30 July 2009). "Funny People". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2 August 2009.
  31. ^ Phillips, Michael (2009-07-31). "'Funny People' stars Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann". Chicago Tribune.
  32. ^ Manohla Dargis (July 30, 2009). "Funny People (2009)". New York Times.
  33. ^ Chaney, Jen (November 10, 2010). "Gene Shalit: Bidding farewell to the punniest movie critic in history". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2014.

External linksEdit