Funny People – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Concord Music Group
I always associate Adam Sandler with lowbrow comedy, but this low-key and downtempo soundtrack makes Funny People feel more like a tearjerker. Not having seen the movie, this soundtrack album is all we can consider; let’s see what we can deduce.
We open with Paul McCartney and the unplugged “Great Day.” It’s a wistful midtempo number with McCartney crooning “It won’t be long” with a heartfelt feeling of desperate hope. We follow with “Wires” by Coconut Records, a new band from Los Angeles with a similar wistful and minimalist post-folk sound. I’m sensing a bittersweet story but some confusion arises as another acoustic number follows. It’s Robert Plant with the slightly depressing “All the King’s Horses.” Clearly this film is not a laugh-a-minute piece of slapstick, but now we experience James Taylor with “Carolina On My Mind.” Is one of the characters from the Deep South, and thus a bib overall-wearing hick, a white supremacist, or a culturally confused African-American? Why else would we have a “wish I was back home” song right in the middle of the show?
We’ll have to actually see the movie. The topic never returns, although Warren Zevon shows up with “Keep Me in Your Heart,” another cheery number with the line “I’m running out of breath, shadows are falling.” Clearly a lingering terminal illness lurks — could be cancer, could be an incurable and unpronounceable disease, but either way I’m saving my money to send flowers.
Then in sneaks Mr. Sandler with “Real Love.” He has a nice voice, not bad for a ballad dripping with the same lingering guitar work and mopey lyrics as the previous songs. He sounds a bit like a ’60s teen idol, yet possesses the rare skill and courage to whistle through a love song. Following him we run into Neil Diamond, Wilco, and finally a song that might be the heart of Funny People: “George Simons Will Soon Be Gone.” Here we take a new direction — a live audience laughs along with Sandler as he asks “How will you people live without me?” Somehow, I think they will, as the music starts a slow inexorable slide into deep maudlin and we endure a subcommunity theater grade version of “Memories” from Cats. Warren Zevon attempts to pull us out of the muck with “Numb as a Statue” but it’s not enough; we weep through more Beatles downers (“Photograph” and “Watching the Wheels”) and we roll credits.
Without seeing the movie, I can say nothing fair about this choice of material, as movie music must support the emotional journey of its story. However, as an isolated listening experience this is a fairly depressing set of music that might work well on a rainy day, or after a big breakup, or if a close pet vanished. Or you could rent a comedy …