I’ve been more than a little curious to see what the results would be for “Funny People”, the Judd Apatow film which explores the life of a stand-up comedian (Adam Sandler) after he has a near death experience. Apatow’s been pretty straight forward that this is a “serious movie”, even though it’s exploring stand-up to some degree. The first trailer just went up today and it definitely tips to the serious side. Look:
That didn’t have a ton of laughs, huh? There’s some good stuff in there - the bit with his creepy doctor plays quite well. But the balance is in telling the dramatic story here (possibly pretty much all of it, as trailer are wont to do these days).
One of the things often said about comedians doing dramatic work is the danger that the audience will expect something with a larger laugh-per-minute scale than they’re going to get. If that’s what this trailer is trying to circumvent, it’s a success. The only question is Apatow’s desire to make it “twice as funny” as his previous works, which I imagine is something we’ll see as more of the stand-up shows up (particularly the contempt for Aziz Ansarai “Raaaandy”).
My favorite part about the trailer is that, at least for now, there’s no suggestion that there’s going to be any sort of easy lessons about life and stand-up (a la some folks much-hated film “Punchline”). There’s definitely a chance that sort of facile parallel will be there - almost dying in life and dying on stage. But my read suggests that this is a story that could happen to a lot of people, it just so happens since these people are actually professional funny, it allows jokes to fall in there naturally, cause that’s what these people do. It’s something that Robert Schimmel, who’s actually dodged the cancer bullet, does pretty well.
Hopefully we’ll see more of the funny side of things soon. “Funny People” opens July 31st.