Upon its release, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love was widely interpreted as a meta-commentary on Sandler’s violently angry and emotionally stunted screen persona. Though it was even more stylized than Sandler’s comedies, the psychosis of Sandler’s character, Barry Egan, and how it alienates and repulses nearly everyone around him, was seen as an “honest” depiction of how the Sandler persona would be perceived in real life. Apatow’s Funny People appeared to comment on Sandler’s career even more directly, with its depiction of a dying, Sandler-esque movie star who makes highly profitable movies that he knows deep down are soul-killing enterprises.
For many people, Funny People seemed, as Salon posited, like Sandler was “acknowledging the ridiculousness of his filmography and owning up to it.” If Sandler had any claims to “truth,” this certainly had to be it, right? But Adam Sandler is not his Funny People character, George Simmons. He is, by all accounts, a preternaturally happy family man with a lot of friends. There is no evidence that he, like Simmons, is regretful about his career choices; to the contrary, those choices have made Sandler richer than many of the world’s countries, and entertained millions of people in the process.
The real Adam Sandler doesn’t make movies about Adam Sandler; Anderson and Apatow are after, to quote David Lee Roth, a different kind of truth. Adam Sandler movies are about the people who watch them.