Monday, August 24, 2009

(Not So) Funny People

Why is Seth Rogen a star? Or, for that matter, Adam Sandler? Yes, Sandler has history on his side—with ten films crossing the $100 million mark—but for every Happy Gilmore and The Wedding Singer, there’s a Mr. Deeds and a Spanglish. But, I’m not here to slam Adam Sandler. At least, not yet. I’d much rather go after Seth Rogen.

Rogen lacks the looks, charisma and acting chops to warrant his current place in Hollywood. (To put it kindly, he’s no Laurence Olivier. Fuck, he’s not even Martin Lawrence.) His draw is his humor. Ironic, considering he’s just not that funny. Most of his jokes are rooted in a bitter mean-spiritedness, i.e., he's a dick; nothing more than a prick with a big mouth (and a three-picture deal). This was evident from his earliest work, the otherwise flawless Freaks and Geeks to his latest, the very flawed Funny People. Don't get me wrong. I have no problem with meanness provided there's some humor and truth to it (see “Fuck You And Your Faggy Dog” Or How To Insult A Man Walking A Poodle). Mean for the sake of being mean? I can get that outside the theater, for free.

In Funny People, Rogen plays an aspiring stand-up comic, Ira Wright, who begins writing jokes for Sandler’s character, the autobiographical megastar, George Simmons. George is the star of fictitious lowbrow, low-concept films like Merman and Re-Do (which features an adult Sandler’s head on the body of an infant). The fake films are easily films Sandler might have made in a parallel universe. (We can thank God we don’t live in that universe. Little Nicky is more than enough, thank you.) George is in between projects because he's just received some sobering news: He's been diagnosed with a leukemia-like disease.

Do these guys know comedy or what?

American moviegoers have been clamoring for a leukemia comedy (a leu-komedy!) for years. And who better to deliver one than the reigning king of comedy, Judd Apatow? Confession: This isn’t the first time I’ve written about Mr. Apatow. (That was here.) I’m hard on him because I do think, for the most part, he’s brilliant. He just puts his name on way too much crap (Drillbit Taylor?) and is now traversing down the clich├ęd “I’m so much more than a comedy director, I’m a filmmaker” route. Let it go, Judd. No one wants to see you make an adult picture, unless it’s an adult picture starring your incredibly hot wife, Leslie Mann.

Can you say, "Holy fucking shit"?

Stick with comedy. It’s what you’re good at.


For a film about comedians, Funny People is not funny. Now I’m no screenwriter, but if you’re going to write a movie about stand-ups, please, please make their routines funny. Sadly, I’ve seen funnier Jay Leno monologues. The lame jokes coupled with the leukemia storyline makes seeing Funny People about as pleasant an experience as getting an AIDS test.

(Note I did not say, "...about as pleasant an experience as getting AIDS." If you really think about it, the actual acquiring of AIDS is probably pretty fun, i.e., you get it while fucking and sucking or shooting heroin, or fucking and sucking while shooting heroin. How is that not pleasant?)

In the film's defense, Jonah Hill, as always, is hysterical, as is Jason Schwartzman (who gets a lifetime pass from me, thanks to Rushmore). But, their screen time is dwarfed by Rogen and Sandler. One asshole more mean-spirited and less funny than the next. In other words: They’re a match made in heaven.

Sandler's character is so unappealing and unpleasant—as are his character's films—that I initially balked at George's superstardom within the movie. It rang false, I thought. No way can a guy who looks like that and makes movies like that be a star. Then I realized: Duh. That pretty much sums up the real Sandler's career.

Sandler, 1. Johnny, 0.

Considering his past oeuvre (a word that, until this moment, has never been attached to a filmography that includes both Billy Madison and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry), Funny People can only be considered a step up for Sandler. The same can't be said for Apatow. He's better than this. The writing is self-indulgent and lazy. Way too many dick jokes. As we all know, Johnny loves his dick jokes, but for crissake, make them funny. How hard is that? See, there's one right there. Okay, maybe it's harder than it looks. (There's another one!) The only thing more self indulgent than Apatow's script is the deluded blogger who thinks anyone cares enough to read his review of it.


Apatow, 1. Johnny, 0.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Johnny's Idiotic T-Shirt Of The Day: "The Cool Kids Just Showed Up"

Oh, where to begin?

There are so many things wrong with this T-shirt, which I saw on a twenty-something jagoff (that's right, jagoff) walking down Lexington Avenue on Friday. First of all, as everyone knows, if you're truly cool you don't need a T-shirt to announce it. A tastefully labeled jockstrap will more than suffice. Secondly, let's ignore point # 1 for a brief moment and assume this guy actually was cool. The shirt promises multiple cool kids. Surely, wearer of said shirt will not always be surrounded by other cool kids, right? There will be times when you will arrive alone and, cool or not, your shirt will render you a liar. And if your shirt isn't being truthful about the number of cool kids with you, why would I trust its core message, i.e., your claim to be cool? Thirdly, maybe, just maybe, a fourth-grader could pull this shirt off—provided he was exceptionally, Ricky Schroder Silver Spoons-level cool. But, a twenty-something? Please. The shirt makes you look like an asshole.

A caveat, if you will. Fourth-graders aren't the only demographic who could pull this off, as the below photograph I found on my Internet machine clearly shows. If you have a great set of titties, this tee will look amazing on you—as will just about any other tee, no matter how appalling, from got AIDS? to I Fucked Hitler. (All available at, along with Date Rapist and Cunty: The Eighth Dwarf.) Of course, the photograph begs another question: Was the jerk from yesterday wearing a chick's shirt? Or, was he, in fact, a she? A tranny, if you will. If so, you know what else that would make him/her?


Way fucking cool.

T-shirt, 1. Johnny, 0.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Subway Stories 9: "Thanks, But I'm A Feminist"

I think we all know where this story's going. Johnny's standing on the 1 train, minding his own business, as always. The train stops at 50th Street and a rather mediocre-looking chick in her early twenties hops aboard. Fuck that—mediocre is far too generous. More like homely. Somehow, a nearby dude wearing a yarmulke felt otherwise. (Note how I didn't call it—in the words of Jon Stewart—a "Jew Beanie." *) He jumps out of his seat and insists she take it. What does she do? She responds coolly, "Thanks, but I'm a feminist."

Not quite the word that came to my mind.

Are you fucking kidding me, toots? First of all, you're not a feminist. You're an unattractive chick who "became" a feminist after your sophomore year at Wellesley when you caught your boyfriend from B.U. banging your hot roommate, Rachel. Secondly, if you had a body like Rachel you, too, would be banging guys left and right. Thirdly, you're a total bitch to call out Jew Beani--I mean, Yarmulke Boy like that in front of everyone on the train. A simple "no thanks" would've sufficed. No one was asking for your life story. Fourthly, I'm a bitch for taking the seat that was offered to you.

After all, Johnny ain't no feminist.

* If it sounds like I'm looking for a pat on the back...that's because I am. You might find this hard to believe, but Johnny once got thrown out of a Bar Mitzvah (Ravi Nessman, Temple Beth Tikvah, 4/26/86) for playing yarmulke frisbee—shit, could those things fly!—with a fellow disrespectful Gentile.