In the new film Funny People, Ira Wright, the character played by Seth Rogen, reveals more or less inadvertently that the reason he became a stand-up comedian was because he was ridiculed by his classmates as a boy. This is probably one of the film's most profound moments, although it hardly treats it as such; but there's a long and illustrious history of comedy serving the purpose of concealing people's feelings, both on and off screen. And filtered through the meta-movie stardom of Adam Sandler's ailing A-lister, Funny People is precisely about the walls people put up in one way or another to protect themselves from emotional harm – which, as the film observes, almost always become a prison for the person who builds them.
Sandler plays George Simmons, a mega-comedian and movie star who decides to "return to his roots" in stand-up after a doctor diagnoses him with a rare and inoperable disease that gives him only a limited time to live. After a disastrous appearance at a local club, George meets Rogen's Ira, an aspiring comedian who mines a few laughs out of his performance, and he hires Ira to write jokes for him, and eventually, to work as his personal assistant. But when George reconnects with his ex-girlfriend Laura (Leslie Mann), who is now married to a daffy Australian huckster named Clarke (Eric Bana), he begins to truly reconsider his affluent but empty lifestyle.