Movies that don’t successfully maneuver the bridge between comedy and drama inevitably wind up in the chasm of failure. That’s just part of the reason this anticipated film from director/writer Judd Apatow (KNOCKED UP) is a major disappointment. The prime flaw of this dramedy is that the title characters have the humor part down, but they, unfortunately, aren’t interesting people. Adam Sandler’s (THE WATERBOY) terminally ill, comedian/movie star is such a self-absorbed jerk that when he’s miraculously cured you’re likely later on to find yourself wishing he had died to put you out of your misery. None of the other players register much in the way of an impression except for the occasionally clever, irony-tinged snippets of dialogue that surface all too rarely. This is a poorly structured movie that never quite manages to establish any cohesiveness between scenes. We see various stages of the comic creative process including the goofy brainstorming, clash of egos and live performances, but they never connect with one another in a way that draws in an audience. As a result, the finished product is overlong at two-and-a-half hours and weighted down by its sense of self-importance for addressing serious subject matters in a comic milieu. There’s actually a “message” to this movie that’s delivered in a similar fashion to the conclusion of a SOUTH PARK episode where one of the kids tells how “I learned something today.” Any one of the stand-up comics in this film will tell you that a joke loses something if you have to explain it. To paraphrase Ricky Ricardo, Judd Apatow does a lot of “splainin” and loses his newest work in the process.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO CECIL B. DeMILLE (1881-1959) WHO DIRECTED/PRODUCED THESE MOVIES WHICH WERE KIND OF COOL IN THEIR OWN WAY: THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1923)*, KING OF KINGS (1927)*, CLEOPATRA (1934), THE PLAINSMAN (1937), UNION PACIFIC (1939), REAP THE WILD WIND (1942), SAMSON AND DELILAH (1949), THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH (1952)**, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956)
*Silent film; **Won Academy Award for Best Picture