Funny Lady, the popular sequel to Funny Girl, is quite entertaining, despite an overly familiar story. Funny Girl's story was no more original, but the determined energy of film novice Barbra Streisand, combined with the superb work of director William Wyler, made the clichés less obvious. Here, Herbert Ross' direction is more professional and capable than inspired, and Streisand's performance is assured and polished rather than dazzling, with the result that the screenplay's flaws are more apparent. Streisand has her part down pat by now and she knows what buttons to push and when to push them. The physical characteristics are all there -- the practiced tilting of the head, the stiffening of the jaw as she rolls a lyric around before spitting it out, the thrusting of the arms -- but they're put to good use and come across as less mannered than they do at other times. Vocally, she's great; "How Lucky Can You Get?" seethes, "Let's Hear It for Me" is wonderfully joyous, and "Isn't This Better" is a lovely, melancholy portrait of a woman who can't admit she's fooling herself. James Caan is stuck with a fairly thankless role, but makes the most of it -- and is one of Streisand's better sparring partners. Many of the musical numbers are unfortunately truncated, but the big production number, "Great Day," is presented whole, to good effect. On the whole, Funny Lady's virtues make up for its shortcomings.
by Craig Butler review