When not cobbling his Oscar tribute to comedy together, Judd Apatow has been working on his next directing effort, Funny People, a comedy about the world's least funny topics: comedians and cancer.

Is it a big fat spoiler to point out that a trailer is a big fat spoiler? Because that's what this one is. I read the script a while back and except for the very end, everything's in here. The movie stars Adam Sandler as comedy superstar "George Simmons" who befriends up-and-comer Seth Rogen. They play pretty much the same Apatow man-boys that populate all of his movies, except here they're dealing with issues weightier than whether it's worth it to give up their bongs to get a hot girl.

You see, Sandler gets cancer and thinks he's dying. In fact, most of the movie is actually about him coming to terms with his imminent death (a laugh riot). The revelation that he's beaten the deadly disease doesn't come until close to the end. In most movies, you would call this the "twist." Here it's a title card — GEORGE SIMMONS WAS PREPARED TO DIE BUT THEN A FUNNY THING HAPPENED — in a trailer out nearly six months before the movie's due in theaters.


It's tough to blame Universal and Sony, the studios behind Funny People, for selling out the plot in the trailer. Marketing a movie, especially one that's ostensibly supposed to be a comedy, must be tough when the main character thinks he's dying for most of the film. Cluing people into the fact that Sandler lives was probably the best way they could say this isn't Terms of Endearment. But you have to ask, what's left? Ah, yes the familiar get-the-girl plot line in which Sandler tries to woo his old flame (played by the obligatory Leslie Mann, Apatow's wife) away from Aussie Eric Bana.

There wasn't a lot of comedy in the version of Apatow's Funny People script that I saw. Lots of sections, such as the stand-up routines, were marked simply with notes like "COMEDY GOES HERE." Apatow likes to film hours and hours of quasi-improvisation to get gags into his films. And no doubt, he was relying on Sandler and Rogen to come up with their own stand-up material. But all in all, it left you with the sense that, after Apatow's prolific two-year producing streak (which includes hits like Superbad and Pineapple Express and bombs like Drillbit Taylor and Walk Hard) he may have succumbed to an all-too-common comedy writer disesase: the need to be taken seriously.