Sunday, August 2, 2015

Mr. Sandler Goes to Apatown

Writer-celeb Adam Sandler and writer-director Judd Apatow go way back. Twenty years ago the star, 43 next month, and the filmmaker, 41, roomed together in Los Angeles while trying to crack the fortress that is Hollywood. Videotapes of prank calls they made then open Funny People, Apatow's portrait of an uber-successful comedian without intimates (Sandler) who hires an adoring fan and aspiring comedian (Seth Rogen) to nurse him through a health crisis and write material for him. Is Funny People funny? I laughed, I cringed. (I was supposed to, I think.)

Mr. Sandler Goes to Apatown

0 comments
Former roommates Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler at the "Funny People" premiere.
Former roommates Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler at the "Funny People" premiere.

Writer-celeb Adam Sandler and writer-director Judd Apatow go way back. Twenty years ago the star, 43 next month, and the filmmaker, 41, roomed together in Los Angeles while trying to crack the fortress that is Hollywood. Videotapes of prank calls they made then open Funny People, Apatow's portrait of an uber-successful comedian without intimates (Sandler) who hires an adoring fan and aspiring comedian (Seth Rogen) to nurse him through a health crisis and write material for him. Is Funny People funny? I laughed, I cringed. (I was supposed to, I think.)

Going in (something of a slog, considering the trailer for the film was an object lesson in too much information), I wondered how Sandler's persona of the passive-aggressive eternal boy would mesh with Apatow's theme of the arrested-development male (see 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up) trying to evolve. Coming out, I'm not sure if it was a mesh or a partially-successful graft.

Whichever, my respect for Sandler as an actor continues to grow. Funny People gives him the scope to consistently surprise the audience with unmodulated anger and elastic voice. He has more colors in his performance than just blue (as in moroseness and profanity). Unbelievably, in 15 years he's made more than 20 feature films ranging from the juvenilia of Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore to the youthful romanticism of The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates to the moody, broody man-on-edge in Punch-Drunk Love and Reign Over Me. The performance that best reflects all these different facets of the Sandler persona is his role in Spanglish. Still, I wish he would ditch gratuitous remakes like Mr. Deeds and The Longest Yard to develop material that challenges him as an actor. BTW, while I thought  I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry was strained, I laughed myself silly through You Don't Mess With the Zohan. Your thoughts on Sandler? Apatow? Funny People? Sharing too much information in a movie trailer?

Film Critic
0 comments
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
 
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

Carrie Rickey Film Critic
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
letter icon Newsletter