Funny People is “a real movie [with] carefully written dialogue and carefully placed supporting performances,” Roger Ebert notes, “and it’s about something. It could have easily been a formula film, and the trailer shamelessly tries to misrepresent it as one, but Adam Sandler‘s George Simmons learns and changes during his ordeal, and we empathize.
“The film presents a new Seth Rogen, much thinner, dialed down, with more dimensions. Rogen was showing signs of forever playing the same buddy-movie co-star, but here we find that he, too, has another actor inside. So does Jason Schwartzman, who often plays vulnerable but here presents his character as the kind of successful rival you love to hate.
“Rogen and Leslie Mann find the right notes as George’s impromptu support group. The plot doesn’t blindly insist that George and Laura must find love; it simply suggests they could do better in their lives. [And] Eric Bana makes a satisfactory comic villain. There is a rolling-around-on-the-lawn fight scene that’s convincingly clumsy, and Mann mocks him with a spot-on Aussie accent (not the standard pleasant one, more of a bray).
“Apatow understands that every supporting actor has to pull his weight. The casting director who found him Torsten Voges to play George’s doctor earned a day’s pay. Voges is in some eerie, bizarre way convincing as a cheerful realist bringing terrible news — miles better than your stereotyped grim movie surgeon.
“After an enormously successful career as a producer, this is Apatow’s third film as a director, after The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up. Of him it can be said: He is a real director. He’s still only 41. So here we go.”