Filmmaker Judd Apatow’s new movie, Funny People, is primarily about, well, funny people, but as New Yorker film blogger Richard Brody puts it, “a subtitle might be ‘And They’re Mostly Jewish.’” What’s more, Brody—who, like New Yorker film critic David Denby, considers the film a “masterpiece”—perceives the Judaism of the film’s characters as well as its auteur (Apatow wrote and directed it) to be integral to its success. The movie follows a prominent Jewish comedian, played by prominent Jewish comedian Adam Sandler, as he is diagnosed with leukemia, and then beats it. Sandler, Brody writes, “gives his character’s garlic-infused, worldly wisdom a particular Old World flavor and helps the movie to play like Jewish soul music.” Brody’s sense that the movie wields its Jewishness lightly but significantly jibes well with what Apatow himself told Jewish Journal in an interview published last week: “It’s just a sensibility that’s almost an unspoken, unconscious thing,” he said of his background. “I’m not a religious person, but I couldn’t be more Jewish.”
Funny People opens this Friday. You can watch the full-length trailer here.
Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.