Rated R/146 min.
Director Judd Apatow follows comedic gems The 40-Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up with another laugh-out-loud film that’s also more mature, risk-taking and emotionally satisfying than its predecessors. Adam Sandler plays a comic actor who deals with a mid-life crisis by going back to stand-up, where he meets a young, insecure comedian (Seth Rogen) whom he takes under his wing to mentor, but secretly needs as a friend.
Sandler is loosely playing himself, though with a darker edge and a self-loathing that will startle his frat-boy fanbase. The rest of the cast is equally excellent. Rogen underplays beautifully as a kind of lost puppy. Apatow’s wife, Leslie Mann, once again displays a knack for getting laughs even as she nails a hard-to-define role. Supporting players Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman are as good as expected, while Eric Bana gives a surprisingly inspired comic performance as an Aussie businessman who doesn’t realize what a bully he is.
The film does leave a bitter aftertaste, and the shifts in tone make the second act uneven. But this is still hilarious and captivating stuff that’s smarter and deeper than you expect. MTW