A letter about comedians going serious (Sandler, Murphy, Rock, Ferrell) by L.A. Times reader named Nicholas Silver was published in today’s edition. I don’t agree with everything he says (particularly a remark about Adam Sandler seeming shallow in Reign Over Me), but he says it fairly well:

“You want to know what we really learn when comics like Adam Sandler and Chris Rock make so-called serious movies? We learn how very shallow they are and, by extension, how very debased we are as Americans for paying so much attention to them.

“Listen, anybody in a moment of quietude can seem to be thinking. Take Eddie Murphy: apparently he was great in Dreamgirls, but talent and charm have never been an issue with him. The question is, where’s his head at? I’ll tell you where: Norbit.

Will Ferrell is funny and sweet, but he’s stuck in television. Every idea he gets is based on perceptions gleaned from watching TV. Nearly all American comedians post-Saturday Night Live have been siophomoric, developmentally stunted and crude. The bar has definitely been lowered.

“At least when watching a picure by Woody Allen, America’s greatest living comedian, you know you’re watching a man who’s constantly running interference between bona fide seriousness and an irrepressible gift for cracking wise.”