- The Washington Times - Friday, July 31, 2009

Adam Sandler turns in a fine dramatic performance in the new dramatic comedy “Funny People.” The former “Saturday Night Live” standout and funnyman follows a long tradition of comedians shedding their humor for a turn in the field of drama.

1. Robin Williams, “Good Will Hunting” — Although Mr. Williams has jumped into drama a few times through the years in such films as “One Hour Photo” and “Insomnia,” his best performance remains the gruff but lovable psychiatrist in “Good Will Hunting” tasked with bringing Matt Damon to heel.

2. Tom Hanks, “Philadelphia”/”Forrest Gump”/”Apollo 13” — After making audiences laugh for more than a decade, Mr. Hanks came out of nowhere to win two Oscars — and get snubbed for a third — in those three movies. His career since has been a pleasant mix of comedy and drama.

3. Jim Carrey, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” — Upon winning a Golden Globe for “The Truman Show,” it looked like Mr. Carrey was poised for a Hanksian leap into drama. However, more recent efforts (“The Majestic,” “The Number 23”) haven’t panned out quite like the rubber faced comedian might have hoped. Still, his soulful performance in Michel Gondry’s mind-bending tale of lost love, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” remains his best serious work.

4. Bill Murray, “Lost in Translation” — One of the most memorable cast members of “Saturday Night Live” and the star of screen comedy classics like “What About Bob?” and “Groundhog Day,” the funnyman finally got dramatic respect — and an Oscar nod — for 2003’s “Lost in Translation” and is now a muse to auteur Jim Jarmusch.

5. Jerry Lewis, “The King of Comedy” — Mr. Lewis’ performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy” was a stark move away from the longtime comedian’s body of work. Aided by one of Robert De Niro’s many great performances, Mr. Lewis fully brought to life the harried stalking victim Jerry Langford.

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