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THE WEEKEND MARQUEE: Hollywood Is A ‘Funny’ Business

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After the resounding success of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, Judd Apatow is back with his third directorial effort Funny People, a mashup of Terms of Endearment and Punchline. It stars the dependable Adam Sandler as a cancer-stricken comedian and the overexposed Seth Rogen as his starstruck protégé.

Nikki Finke reports that it may very well follow in the footsteps of Apatow’s previous movies and rake in a lot of dough. That depends, of course, if his fans, who so love obvious references about pop culture and drugs, turn out for this one. With a running time of 2 1/2 hours and sappy, melodramatic subject matter, it’s anybody’s guess.

The reviews for Funny People have been polite, but nobody is that excited about it. And some major critics flat-out hated it. Especially David Edelstein of New York Magazine:

It’s hard to believe that Judd Apatow’s sour, maudlin Funny People is only the third film he has directed. His man-child universe, with its mixture of juvenile raunch and white-bread family values, has conquered American comedy… Funny People feels insular, as if Apatow’s whole world consists of nerdy jokesters who were angry, lonely kids who got rich beyond their dreams and fucked women who’d never have talked to them in high school but are deep down still angry.

Even the positive reviews can’t get past the movie’s faults. Todd McCarthy of Variety writes that it’s “amusing and engaging yet lacking in snap and cohesion.”

So it’s unanimous. If you want to sit through an unpleasant experience, then see Funny People! It’s interesting how the “funniest” line in the trailer involves Sandler telling his doctor that he looks like the villain from Die Hard. Is that even a real joke?

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The other big opener is yet another CGI kiddie flick called Aliens in the Attic. It’s about kids who find, yes that’s right, aliens in their attic. 20th Century Fox did not screen it for critics (which is always a bad sign).

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Opening in extremely limited release is the Swedish import You, the Living (Du levande). It’s written and directed by Roy Andersson, a filmmaker who produces about one project every decade. I attended a screening of it at last year’s Wisconsin Film Festival.

The film is a truly remarkable experience, filled with vignettes that are at once melancholy and hilarious. You, the Living is like an acid trip that that takes you into the lives of people from all walks of life and gives you the feeling of being a fly on the wall. If at all possible, go and see this film. You won’t see anything like it again.

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The other movies being released this weekend are:

• Adam, another quirky indie rom-com starring Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne (do we really need one so soon after (500) Days of Summer?)

The well-reviewed journalistic caper The Cove, about the shady business of international dolphin trading.

The Michael Haneke-esque horror movie The Collector from first-time director Marcus Dunstan.

Thirst, another vampire drama to throw on the pile.

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation, a documentary about 70s/80s Aussie genre cinema.

Flame & Citron, a Danish WWII thriller.

Winged Creatures, a sprawling indie drama that has a surprisingly A-List cast (such as Guy Pierce and Dakota Fanning).

Ghosted, a German mystery that made the rounds at many LGBT film festivals.

And, finally, Lorna’s Silence, a multi-lingual drama fresh from Cannes.

All trailers posted below.

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