While Universal Pictures’ new feature comedy from Judd Apatow is yet to be released (July 31), the soundtrack to this film starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, and Leslie Mann comes out July 28. When watching and critiquing films, the biggest thing you look for is making sure that the story is the main focus. Nothing should distract from the story, whether that be the spectacular effects (or lack thereof), the famous cameo appearance, or the soundtrack. All of these elements are secondary to the story and should be used to further the plot, not overshadow it. Even without previewing the film prior to writing this review, I feel that Judd Apatow and company have successfully picked a soundtrack that pairs excellently to their latest project.
The story follows an aging comedian (Sandler), who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and his search for meaning and quality in his life. By listening to the soundtrack all the way through, you really get a feel for the emotional progression of the story, all while bobbing your head and tapping your foot to the wonderful selection of tracks and artists. The album kicks off with a subdued but cheerful “Great Day” from Paul McCartney, who is joined on this CD by fellow Beatles members Ringo Starr and John Lennon, who closes the disc with an acoustic rendering of “Watching the Wheels,” which was released as a post humus single in 1981.
Even with the somewhat morose premise, the enduringly laidback but cheerful vibe that plays throughout the soundtrack gives me assurance that Judd Apatow and company will be keeping up morale and not stray too far from their comedic giftings. With such big hitters as James Taylor, whose on-camera performance of “Carolina On My Mind” helps start the record, the soundtrack aspires to be great. However, its restrained nature and mostly acoustic-driven melodies requires something from the listener. It requires you to actually listen. I feel this is a testament to the creators and their understanding of what is necessary of any musical underscoring for a film, and that is to tell the story. The first two listenings of this record found me doing other things while letting the smooth tunes croon in the background, making it a soundtrack for my activities. The record filled this position quite well, and I found myself humming along at times. However, a third listen found me actually sit down and digest each song, an activity through which I found some great instances and songs that will be receiving even more playing time in the future.
While this record doesn’t scream mainstream popularity, nor does it force you to listen, it instead beckons you to come and sit and enjoy the relaxed mix of songs that, when listened to intently, pack a punch. The soundtrack for “Funny People” is available on July 28th from Concord Records, and is definitely worth a listen or three.