There’s something a bit funny about the Funny People marketing campaign — and not just in the ”ha-ha” sense. Depending on which trailer you’ve seen for Judd Apatow’s latest directorial effort, which opens July 31, the film is either a poignant story about a terminally ill comedian (Adam Sandler), or a fun, filthy romp in which Sandler and costar Seth Rogen trade raunchy jokes in the tradition of Apatow’s previous hits, The 40 Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. In fact, the movie is both. And that blend represents an artistic leap for Apatow and a tricky sales job for Universal Pictures, which is hoping to simultaneously draw fans of dramedies like Terms of Endearment and of R-rated comedies like The Hangover.
On the set last year, Apatow acknowledged the challenge: ”This is a hard movie to talk about. It’s a lot of different kinds of movies in one.” But costar Jonah Hill insists that while Funny People explores deeper emotional terrain, it’s still very much an Apatow comedy: ”Just because the guy is suffering from a serious illness doesn’t mean we stopped making d— jokes.” Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, who has a small role in the movie, has a different take: ”People keep saying this is a more serious side of Judd Apatow. But I don’t think it gets more serious than a dude being a virgin at 40. That is really sad.” And that‘s no joke.
— Additional reporting by Carrie Bell