Rogen plays a more three-dimensional character. He was in danger of being typecast as the semi-stupid but funny guy in all those buddy comedy movies, but here he has more of a role to play. He’s conflicted. On one hand he wants to continue to pal around with Simmons because he’s getting paid outrageous amounts of money and he’s getting publicity for his own comedy. But, on the other hand he realizes that Simmons is not changing, and in some ways is becoming more of a pretentious punk as time goes on.
Simmons has one regret, a woman by the name of Laura (Leslie Mann) who is now married to an insane Aussie played by Eric Bana. In a formulaic film trying to win the girl of his dream back would probably play out easier, but Apatow has never fallen back on formulas. Instead his characters make hard choices and then have to live with the consequences whatever they may be. Life just isn’t black and white, but a variety of grays.
Funny People does suffer from its 146-minute running time. There are storylines and subplots that could’ve been completely deleted or scaled back to make the movie run 20 to 30 minutes shorter. The film has a lot of genuinely funny moments, but it also has some jokes that bomb. All the penis and ball jokes become a bit grating by the end, isn’t there anything else to do jokes about?
The funny thing about Funny People is that the characters, people who were born to make people laugh, never seem to laugh at much. Whenever Wright comes up with a joke for Simmons, Simmons always responds with a “That’s funny,” instead of a laugh. Maybe these people have been around so many jokes, that nothing is really funny anymore to them, they just know what makes other people laugh. Funny People made me laugh, and think. It’s deeper and darker than what Apatow has done before and like a comedy club, depending on the audience it will be greeted with cheers or jeers.