Movies

'Funny People': A Comic In Need Of A Connection

Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen in Funny People.

George Simmons (Adam Sandler) hires Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) to be his joke guy and his friend, in Judd Apatow's Funny People. Universal Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Universal Pictures

The most important moment in the solid new film Funny People is the opening. As he discussed on Fresh Air, writer-director Judd Apatow (both lucky and smart here, as they say) had old footage of a young Adam Sandler making prank phone calls from when the two were roommates, and that's how the film begins.

It is essentially impossible to duplicate manic comic energy in a written screenplay performed by an actor. Grief is easier to convey, anger is easier, joy is easier, attraction is easier. Nothing Apatow could have written would ever have driven home what this footage drives home about a young guy who prides himself on being funny — how hard he'll work to crack everyone up, including himself. Nothing would have captured the combination of likability and desperate eagerness that makes a giggling clown the kind of guy people are drawn to on one hand, and grow tired of on the other.

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