‘Funny People’ an ‘award-level thing?’

Posted by · 3:12 am · April 25th, 2009

Adam Sandler in Funny PeopleI don’t mind admitting that I wasn’t entirely won over by the trailer for Judd Apatow’s “Funny People,” which, for all its smartness, seemed to me a little too calculated in its bid for laughing-through-the-tears pathos. Like pretty much everyone else, James L. Brooks struck me as an obvious point of reference — but whether we were talking Brooks on a good or bad day was unclear to me. It’s just a (very long and over-expository) trailer, after all.

Now Jeff Wells has chatted to a couple of folks who have seen it, and is passing along the word that Apatow has seemingly channeled Brooks on a very good day indeed. Awards-season good, even:

Possibly an award-level thing, a director friend said this morning, although he was just passing along the chatter. It’s more in the realm of Sandler for Best Actor and Apatow’s script for Best Original Screenplay, he speculated, than a Best Picture shot…but you never know.

So I called a non-vested guy who’s seen it, and here’s what he said: “Really funny, a really sweet movie, a lot of veracity…really a brilliant film. Everybody’s game goes up a lot. It’s a James L. Brooks-level thing and a great role for Adam. It’s a perfect blend of everything Sandler has done in a serious vein. The film could be a bit of a marketing problem because it’s about show business but it’s so real.. It’s about a famous guy, a comedian, having to deal with the fact hat he has no life and nobody to turn to. But he gets better [through a relationship with a younger comic]…it’s basically a love letter to having a family.”

No specific mention of Leslie Mann, who struck me on paper as the film’s likeliest awards prospect, but that was a shot in the dark. Anyway, I seem to recall hearing near-identical chatter about “Spanglish” before it finally surfaced, so I’ll remain guarded. (I’m expecting something better than that fiasco, of course, but I’m just sayin’.) Encouraging buzz, nonetheless.

→ 14 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

14 responses so far

  • 1 4-25-2009 at 3:50 am

    Mike said...

    Adam Sandler = no thanks.

  • 2 4-25-2009 at 4:06 am

    RichardA said...

    I’m still trying to figure out what the Adam Sandler Oscar movie would be. He has been working on it: Punch Drunk Love, Spanglish, and Reign Over Me. He has it in him, I think. It’s a certain Tom Hanks quality to it. He came closest with Spanglish, except that Tea Leoni’s poorly written role (I’m making a disctinction here that Tea Leoni did the best with what was written for her) ruined the movie.

    Maybe what Sandler needs is a real dramatic role like in Reign Over Me–except that movie was still “too soon!”.

    Maybe Sandler will never be taken seriously.

    Hmm. Also, Shia Lebouf will never be anything close to Tom Hanks.

    As for Judd Apatow, for him to be taken seriously with his brand of comedy and man/child theme, he should listen to Mike White and maybe even revisit the movie Marty with Ernest Borgnine.

  • 3 4-25-2009 at 4:28 am

    AdamL said...

    This looks dreadful. If the film really is as good as hyped then was is the trailer so bad? Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen together is an unbearable prospect. They are bad enough on their own.

  • 4 4-25-2009 at 6:26 am

    Bill said...

    I’ve read the script. It’s very good, in an Apatow kind of way, and the best when it focuses on Rogen’s character, who’s really the emotional center of the piece. However, not a single line in the trailer appears as it does in the script. There was a lot of improvisation here. The script was probably a very loose framework.

    At one point, instead of labelling Hill’s obviously tailor-made role “LEO” as it is for the rest of the script, he accidentilly writes “JONAH”. A revealing, signature Apatow mistake.

    Unless Leslie Mann can really elevate the material in the script, she’s not the biggest Oscar prospect here. Her character is part of a huge tangent the story takes in the last half-hour of the script, and she’s not a very well draw out character. The trailer indicates that her role may have been expanded though, but the script gave Sandler and especially Rogen much more to work with.

    That said, the word is that Aziz Ansari is the real scene stealer.

    I think this has a better shot than Spanglish and others for male acting and screenplay noms because of Apatow’s huge industry support and the self referencial quality, referring to actors, scripts, and comedians in such a way that Hollywood will appreciate.

  • 5 4-25-2009 at 7:23 am

    Casey Fiore said...

    I actually hated the trailer. It looked like these guys sold out and tried to win Oscars. lame. But I do love Leslie Mann with all my heart. I actually would’ve given her my Supporting Actress award for Knocked Up in 2007

  • 6 4-25-2009 at 8:15 am

    Robert Hamer said...

    Since I despise the maudlin crap of James L. Brooks (okay, okay, Broadcast News wasn’t so bad), I truly hope that Apatow doesn’t go that same route. He has the ability to write terrific comedies.

    Then again, Knocked Up may be one of the most overrated films of the decade, so maybe Funny People is the next logical step in the nosedive, though I hope not.

  • 7 4-25-2009 at 10:22 am

    Chad said...

    I hate Apatow’s movies and this looks like the worst of his previous two cranked up to 11. Even if it wins 10 Oscars, I’ll never see it.

  • 8 4-25-2009 at 12:21 pm

    Georgie said...

    Nothing Adam Sandler has done has ever convinced me he is worthy of an Oscar [or a nomination] before so many other actors.

    Read: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emile Hirsch, James McAvoy

  • 9 4-25-2009 at 12:45 pm

    tony rock said...

    you ppl prove time and time again you’re completely out of touch with humanity…how you can hate either 40 Year-Old Virgin or Knocked Uop is beyond me

  • 10 4-25-2009 at 1:44 pm

    JAB said...

    i really really don’t like Sandler, at all. But I’m definitely a fan of most of the Apatow films. Knocked Up would’ve gotten a couple of Oscar nominations from me to be honest, namely Screenplay, Actress for Heigl, and I’d consider Supporting Actress for Mann if it wasn’t such a loaded category in 07.

  • 11 4-25-2009 at 5:11 pm

    Chad said...

    Tony- Sorry to be missing out on all the fun you and the rest of humanity are having. But I’m over here with all of the things that are beyond you and there’s a shitload to do and see so I’ll be alright.

  • 12 4-25-2009 at 5:21 pm

    Scott Ward said...

    Need ice for that burn?

  • 13 4-27-2009 at 8:19 am

    Jay said...

    To all you haters, you are judging a movie you have not seen. You better put yourselves in check.