First Hit: At times interesting and funny but there were long wasted scenes that didn’t drive a cohesive story so the film felt longer than its very long running time.
There are Adam Sandler films that are funny, introspective and interesting as well as some that were less than good.
This film will fall in the latter bucket and I don’t think it is because of his acting as much as the script and direction he received. The story follows the life of George Simmons who (a lot like Sandler’s own life) went from stand-up comedy to making funny films.
Simmons makes more than enough money, has no real friends, does what he wants, is arrogant and lacks humility. Then a dose of reality hits as he discovers he has a rare disease and will probably die because only 8% of the people treated recover.
Simmons, takes some stock in his life and does some stand-up but it is laced with gallows type humor. He longs to connect with people in a more meaningful way but his entrenched behavior holds him back. This becomes obvious when he attempts to meet up and reconcile with is former girlfriend. He also hires a struggling comic named Ira Wright (played by Seth Rogen) to write him jokes.
Ira lives with two roommates who are comics and actors as well and this side story, which we keep going back to, takes away from what could be a good film. It was almost like the Director Judd Apatow created these characters to get some friends employed.
The film spent too much time trying to get us to care about his roommates when the real story is about Simmons and what will he do to get his life in order.
The film makes Ira an integral part of the story and it would have worked except that Ira is hard to understand. There isn’t enough character building to create an honest background as to why he makes certain moral judgments or makes some stupid decisions; we’re supposed to take it all at face value.
Judd Apatow, the writer and director of this film has made his mark in the land of mediocre with his past films. This one doesn’t move him from this place. He makes obvious blatant attempts at driving towards moral points by creating scenes he thinks are funny yet supportive of his view. Seth Rogen is well intentioned but really lacks the chops to be a good actor at this point in his career. He always is the same person; Seth Rogen. Sandler shows moments of brilliance in this film, like much of his effort in Punch Drunk Love, however, the script and direction left him in a lifeboat without a paddle and his arms got weary of rowing this boat ashore.
Overall: This is a long film and I felt it all the way to the end. There are moments of brilliance, but as a cohesive interesting story it lacks a something to care about.