Some might say that Seth Rogen certainly hasn’t hit a home run in every film that he has been in, but most of the comedies that involve the man have been quite good. Sure, most have tones that are revolved around week and drinking, but they are well-written features. However, arguably his worst film is currently in the top 10 on Hulu right now, which could mean that it is finding new life amongst a brand-new fanbase. That film is called, Funny People. This was certainly not the first time in which Rogen and famed director Judd Apatow teamed up, however, this was one of the most lackluster films in that repertoire from Apatow.
Funny People should have been a huge hit considering the cast that was part of this film. Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana, Jason Schwartzman, RZA, and Aubrey Plaza were all in this film. Naturally, one would think it would have been one of Apatow’s better pictures, but it simply wasn’t. The issue that Funny People had was that the film was trying too hard to be a serious drama and a comedy all at once. That is certainly not out of the realm of possibility, as there are plenty of good dark comedies that have been written over the years that feature more drama than comedy. Unfortunately, this film just couldn’t quite get either of those genres to blend well with one another.
Funny People follows the life of famed movie star, George Simmons (Adam Sandler). Simmons is told by doctors that he is dying, which sets off some very natural feelings in the form of a crisis happening with Simmons. He then starts to return to his stand-up comedy form, after spending years away from the stage as a movie star. However, he is essentially bombing at every show that he performs. He meets Ira Wright (Seth Rogen), who is a terrible stand-up comic that works at the comedy clubs. Simmons then asks Ira to write jokes for him and asks Ira to bring along Leo Koenig (Jonah Hill). However, Ira doesn’t tell Leo, which comes up later in the film. George goes through the gauntlet of feelings that one would certainly feel if they were told they were dying, and he also attempts to reconnect with his lost love, Laura (Leslie Mann). Without spoiling the rest of the film, we will leave it up to all of you to go watch the film on Hulu to see what else happens.
Funny People currently holds a 69% critic rating, with a much poorer 48% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film was mostly liked by critics, as they all agreed that it had been the most “mature” film that Judd Apatow had written up to that point. We would argue that Knocked Up from 2007 was a far more mature film than Funny People. However, Funny People dealt with the more harrowing issue of dealing with one’s own death, which might trump bringing in life, as was the governing issue of Knocked Up.
One of the biggest criticisms of Funny People, which may have been a reason for the low audience for the film, was the runtime. The drama-comedy clocked in at 146 minutes, which is 2 hours and 26 minutes long. That is a heft time to have to watch a “comedy”. Most comedies run from the hour and a one-half mark to maybe around an hour and fifty-five minutes. Sometimes it’s best to trim the fat and get to the point quicker, and this Seth Rogen film could have been 30 minutes shorter, at least. The film grossed $71 million against a budget of $75 million, essentially making it a major box office disaster. Tough break for an Apatow film that truly should have done better.
Funny People is currently killing it on Hulu, so maybe enough time has passed that audiences are now starting to get the bleaker elements of this comedy. Seth Rogen and Adam Sandler are fantastic in the film, despite its shortcomings. You can stream it right now and decide for yourself if the film deserves to be placed higher in the conversation of the best Judd Apatow productions.