Using his hard-earned comic credentials to direct a passion project, Judd Apatow's third written and directed effort Funny People, starring his old best friend and roommate Adam Sandler, is in many respects, exactly the story his filmography demanded from him at this point in time. It's a grown up effort. The third entry in a trilogy of "man-childs" movies after The 40 Year Old Virgin (first time having sex), Knocked Up (pregnancy) and now the life cycle is complete with a look into one's mortality, and a reflection of your journey up too that point and what you do if you had a section chance at life. Hold on, is that a comedy I've just described. Well yes, Funny People is funny... at times. But dramatic too, even more so than the previous two in his canon. It's also overtly too long, its running time would rival Magnolia- without the depth of content. Indeed some scenes go nowhere in particular, only present because Apatows love for his precious material is so apparent. However, it does not mean the audience will be so enamoured. The use of cameo appearances all feels rather needless (with the exception of Andy Dick, who comes out with the films most shocking and hilarious line). In the end, it is less about the L.A. comedy scene and much more to do with the perils of fame... George Simmons (Sandlers character) is quite frankly - a dickhead. Hes a successful A-list comedy actor who routinely stars in the lowest grade comedy star vehicles, and occassionally does part time stand up (basically he's playing Sandler himself). He is a man living the high life and seems disconnected from every day living. When hes informed by his doctor that hes terminally ill, he tries to make amends with all the people hes wronged or treated poorly. Enter, Seth Rogen. I must admit Im getting pretty fed-up with his tubby-loser schtick, and here he is again playing, guess what? A tubby loser. Albeit a much more slimmed down one than before. As a writer, hes not half bad. As an actor, he leaves a lot to be desired. Simmons hires Ira (Rogen) under the guise of writing jokes for him, when really hes hiring a companion to help sort out his life. George is obsessed with the girl that got away: Leslie Mann (a chipmunk-voiced actress on par with Joey Lauren Adams). The film meanders for nearly two hours before Apatow pulls the plug on the dying man concept, and puts Georges fatal disease into remission. George soon reverts to his previous behaviour. No lessons learned. At all. Instead, he continues to fool everybody in order to get his own way. Fortunately, Ira has a conscience and spills the beans. Apatow is not completely heartless towards his protagonist, ending the film with the suggestion hes not beyond redemption after all. As noted, that it takes so long to get to where it needs to - it feels padded out with all kinds of sub plots and peripheral characters including those played by Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzmann. Both amuse in their respective roles, yet feel extraneous. In spite of its faults, Funny People is often great. Sandlers character is not awful enough to be an arch-manipulator, hes just a selfish bastard. His forays into less crowd-pleasing films such as Punch-Drunk Love and Reign Over Me, clearly show he can play screwed-up, subtle, vulnerable and relateable quite well. If one is going to the cinema expecting to see Sandler exploding with apoplectic man-child rage, then it will certainly disappoint. The truly funny person is Eric Bana. His character, Clark, brings some much needed energy during the third act. Using his natural Aussie accent for the first time since Chopper, his brief appearance delivers some excellent comic asides and dialogue. Sure, there are chuckles along the way, however, its varying tonal shifts often seem to cancel each other out. A comedy that isnt too funny and a drama that is never too dramatic. Apatow still manages to come up with a genuinely heart-felt movie showcasing his directorial talent and the fact hes no one-trick pony. Where next for him after this trilogy is anyone's guess.