In what is probably a smart move, the ads for “Funny People” make it clear that this comedy-drama is only the third film to be directed by Judd Apatow, the let-it-all-hang-out guy who helmed  the much-acclaimed “The 40 Year Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up.” That way, we’re not tempted to flash back to “Pineapple Express,” “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan,” “Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story,” “Fun With Dick and Jane,” “Step Brothers,” “Drillbit Taylor,” “Kicking & Screaming” or any of the other macho, full-frontal, gas-passing assaults Apatow has perpetrated in his role as writer or producer. Conceivably, Apatow, beginning to probe adult themes, has chosen to downplay the adolescent but frequently hilarious excesses of his cinematic past.

Whatever the case, in his third time at auteur bat, director Apatow has cast Adam Sandler, a performer seldom saluted for his subtlety, as George Simmons, a driven, natural-born comic whose doctor slams him with a tragic diagnosis: his days are almost certainly numbered. But don’t get the idea that George slides into a self-pity fueled trance. Determined to remain in the spotlight, he hires neophyte L.A. standup Ira Wright (Seth Rogen) to write some dynamite material for him. Ira turns out to have the right stuff, and for his thanks he is repeatedly bullied and humiliated by his boss. Though, on occasion, the superstar does dribble genuinely helpful career tips to the thirsty young comic. Presumably, that’s showbiz, as practiced in L.A.

Will there be a tear-streaked but happy ending? If so, it may be linked to a visit George pays to his ex-steady (Leslie Mann), her sexy husband (Eric Bana), and the couple’s two daughters, played by Iris Apatow and Maude Apatow, who, in real life, are the daughters of director Judd Apatow. And, as you may have heard, the real-life mom of the precocious Apatow sprigs is actress Leslie Mann (AKA Mrs. Judd Apatow).

And that’s family life, as sometimes practiced in L.A.

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Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Aubrey Plaza, RZA, Iris Apatow, Maude Apatow, Torsten Voges, Allan Wasserman (Written and directed by Judd Apatow; Universal and Columbia)