Shallow and serious

A letter about comedians going serious (Sandler, Murphy, Rock, Ferrell) by L.A. Times reader named Nicholas Silver was published in today’s edition. I don’t agree with everything he says (particularly a remark about Adam Sandler seeming shallow in Reign Over Me), but he says it fairly well:

“You want to know what we really learn when comics like Adam Sandler and Chris Rock make so-called serious movies? We learn how very shallow they are and, by extension, how very debased we are as Americans for paying so much attention to them.

“Listen, anybody in a moment of quietude can seem to be thinking. Take Eddie Murphy: apparently he was great in Dreamgirls, but talent and charm have never been an issue with him. The question is, where’s his head at? I’ll tell you where: Norbit.

Will Ferrell is funny and sweet, but he’s stuck in television. Every idea he gets is based on perceptions gleaned from watching TV. Nearly all American comedians post-Saturday Night Live have been siophomoric, developmentally stunted and crude. The bar has definitely been lowered.

“At least when watching a picure by Woody Allen, America’s greatest living comedian, you know you’re watching a man who’s constantly running interference between bona fide seriousness and an irrepressible gift for cracking wise.”

  • cust71

    So what then for the dramatic actors that want to try comedy? You see fewer successes, in fact, you see fewer trying it. I would give Sandler, Ferrell, Carell, etc. kudos for at least going ahead with it. Who gives a shit where their head is at as long as they give it a shot?

  • jeffmcm

    If your bar for ‘greatest American comedian’ is Woody Allen, a filmmaker whose output has been going downhill for about the last fifteen years and who’s been doing the same schtick for forty, you don’t have a very strong argument.

  • http://sunlightproductions.com Mike Binder

    Everything this guy says is proof he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. In fact, I happen to have Will Ferrel right here….

    “Sir, you know nothing about my work…”

  • peachtree

    I don’t understand the criticism of Adam Sandler’s acting in Reign Over Me. I really don’t. I thought he gave a deeply poignant performance. But then, I guess I’m just “shallowed” and “debased”… especially since I really like most (not all) of Sandler’s movies. The guy on the other thread who said his mom cried at the end of his movies…? Well, I don’t cry but I understand where that’s coming from.

    From someone who is probably old enough to be that guy’s mother too…

    Peachtree

  • tholl-yung

    “constantly running interference between bona fide seriousness and an irrepressible gift for cracking wise” — yeah, intellect with a condition, not a condition with intellect.

  • bellepoitrine

    He’s right, most hit comedies today are sophomoric, but sophomoric shit can be funny, too.

    Not high-minded, but funny. And traditionally few things have been more ridiculous than the sad clown trying to be Taken Seriously. Woody Allen’s INTERIORS is one of the funniest movies ever made, but nobody tell Woody.

  • jeffmcm

    Has anyone ever seen Jerry Lewis’s The Day the Clown Cried?

  • Hallick

    “At least when watching a picure by Woody Allen, America’s greatest living comedian…”

    Hey Mr. Silver ! You know who’s funnier than “America’s greatest living comedian” right now?

    America’s worst dead comedian.

    And France’s.

    And Pago Pago’s.

  • T.Holly

    “constantly running interference between bona fide seriousness and an irrepressible gift for cracking wise” — yeah, intellect with a condition, not a condition with intellect.

  • Cadavra

    Woody will always be in Mel Brooks’ shadow.

  • NYCBusybody

    Will Ferrell throwing up in his mascot uniform in “Blades of Glory”, then announcing that fact to the audience by telling them “That’s the reality”, is funnier than anything Woody Allen has done since Jeffrey Wells was born, which was like, 1949 or something.