A monument of Success Going to One’s Head. The head in question belongs to writer-director-producer Judd Apatow, previously of The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, but more widely known as just producer and/or writer, weather vane, fashion plate, brand name, school headmaster. In these capacities he has apparently accumulated sufficient Hollywood capital to command what fairly shrieks of Final Cut (one shudders to imagine a DVD of the Director’s Cut, unless it would be the Director’s Second-Thoughts Cut), a paceless, desultory, two-and-a-half-hour comedy-drama centered around a terminally ill comedian played by and modelled on Adam Sandler, who hires a struggling stand-up comic (a slimmer Seth Rogen whose slimness is much commented on) as a joke writer, gofer, and all-purpose companion, and who, upon his miraculous recovery under a program of experimental drugs, tries to reconnect with and reignite a now married Old Flame played by Leslie Mann, Mrs. Apatow in real life. Among the self-indulgences, besides merely the running time, are Memory Lane clips of the young Sandler and Mann, key roles for the two preteen Apatow daughters, a raft of as-themselves celebrity cameos, and more penis references, in a wide variety of synonyms, than you could shake a stick at — or a sheaf of sticks at. The serious bits at least see to it that there are some laughs in the film, and it’s a tribute to Mann that her own serious bits can indeed be taken seriously. She also, at a different time, gets an actual intended laugh when in the course of a marital row she mimics the Aussie accent of her husband (Eric Bana). It may be a credit to Apatow, something less than a tribute to him, that he attempts some difficult and subtle things in human interactions. He manages to make them look more difficult than subtle. With Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Aubrey Plaza. (2009) — Duncan Shepherd
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