Archive for August 3rd, 2009

What Happens to Funny People?: A Review

“You know what would make a good story? Something about a clown who makes people happy, but inside he’s real sad. Also, he has severe diarrhea.” —Jack Handey

 This Deep Thought—if you replace the word “diarrhea” with “leukemia”— kind of sums up the conceit of Judd Apatow’s new film (technically only his third as director, but his influence as a producer/writer has been felt everywhere in comedies recently, from Pineapple Express to Superbad), Funny People: Adam Sandler plays George Simmons, a beloved but lonely comic on the verge of death, who befriends/employs an upstart comedian, Ira Wright (Seth Rogen).

Simmons is in some ways an analog of Sandler himself (an important difference, however, is that Sandler, unlike Simmons, is married with two children): A stand-up comedian turned star of popular, critically panned films—Re-Do, about a man-baby, Sayonara Davey!, about a white man living with a Japanese family, My Best Friend is a Robot, about, well, you can probably figure it out— that bear a certain resemblance to Sandler’s own filmography.

While these films bring Simmons fame, fortune and success with women, they don’t bring fulfillment, and when Simmons gets sick, the only person he tells is his new assistant, Wright; Simmons has no close friends or family he feels comfortable confiding in. The movie, then, presents Simmons as the proverbial “sad clown”: He makes other people happy, but not himself.

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Monday Medley

What we read while not drinking beers with President Obama:

  • You may have noticed we used the word “meme” a second ago. And here’s a little secret: When we started the blog, we weren’t sure whether to call our running features “memes” or “tropes.” Turns out, we weren’t alone. (P.S. We settled on “treme.”)
  • We’re obviously pleased with the conclusion here and exhilarated by the kudos to the Beatles and Chuck Klosterman. But we’re not so sure about the gratuitous shot at Saved by the Bell. Because we like Saved by the Bell. And the only thing we hate more than the people who don’t like Saved by the Bell are the people who don’t like us because we like Saved by the Bell.
  • This article is from last week, but we couldn’t overlook one of the most devastatingly self-aware quotes we’ve ever seen: “I don’t have any nostalgia for reality.” We at NPI can’t disagree more: We’re suckers for nostalgia in all its forms.