Judd Apatow is an American film producer, director, writer, and screenwriter. His American film/television production company Apatow Productions pumps out quality comedy with a vengeance. If you aren’t familiar with the name you are definitely familiar with the work. Mr. Apatow has been breathing life into the best comedies of the past decade. He is the wizard of odd, the maestro behind the curtain. I believe Apatow has been the driving factor in revitalizing the comedy genre. Before Judd, R-rated comedies were not big business. The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up changed all of that. They changed people’s idea of what a comedy could accomplish. The films Apatow creates are not defined by silly slapstick or outrageous situations. These comedic elements definitely have a role in comedy but Apatow’s works gave us a new, more touching breed. The reason they have been so successful to me is that the characters feel so real. The characters feel like the friends you always wish you had. The dryness and raunchy nature of Apatow’s comedies are what gives them their human tone. Life is messy and pathetic as hell. Judd’s films show us that the unappealing facets of life are what provide the color. Friendship is also a common theme. Every time I see another one of his works I can’t help but smile at all the silly moments that life is going to bring.
The following are the 5 films I believe best represent Apatow’s special brand of comedy:
1. Knocked Up
Knocked Up was Apatow’s second big hit after the cult following 40-Year-Old Virgin developed. Judd wrote, directed, and produced the epic which “…follows the repercussions of a drunken one-night stand… that results in an unintended pregnancy” (wikipedia). Knocked Up represented everything that is uncomfortable and unfortunate about life. And somehow Apatow made it adorable and hilarious while exploring historically taboo themes. The film represented a sort of breakout for the stars Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl.
Filmpact: Perfects the adorable pot smoking bum,. Slashes culture taboo of unplanned pregnancy.
“I won’t say it but it rhymes with shmashmortion.”
“Do you ever wonder how somebody could even like you? The biggest problem in our marriage is that she wants me around. And I can’t even accept that? I don’t think I can accept pure love.”
2. Funny People
Funny People happens to be my favorite Judd Apatow movie. Judd wrote, produced, and directed the movie about a successful, middle aged and lonely comedian who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and must decide what to do next. The film upset a lot of Apatow fans because it was much more dramatic than his previous offerings. While it was funny, it was not necessarily a comedy. David Denby of The New Yorker calls the film “an intentional hybrid: half gag comedy, half open-ended exploration of everything that can go wrong—and occasionally right—between two people whom nature, if not society, means to be together.” I loved the insight of the life of a comedian. I loved the depiction of how death impacts love. Funny People for me is definitely one of Adam Sandler’s best performances along with Punch Drunk Love and Reign Over Me. Don’t forget that female lead Leslie Mann is Judd Apatow’s real life wife and the kids in the movie are their kids.
Filmpact: The lines between comedy and drama are meant to be crossed and explored. Love or even the idea of love can consume us.
“I just came back from the new Harry Potter movie. Harry’s getting old. They should start calling him Harold Potter.”
“I am sick of these guys’ rap songs. They say ‘Girl, drop it like it’s hot’, ‘Shake it’. I want to make a rap song that says ‘Boy, brush your teeth, give me your jacket, I’m fucking freezing.’”
3. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
The 40-Year-Old Virgin was Judd’s directorial debut and my God was it a fantastic one. The film follows the social antics of 40 year old virgin Andy Stitzer. Andy is played flawlessly by Steve Carell whose character defines what makes the film delightfully entertaining. Carell’s nerdy action figure collector is immensely likable and insanely quotable. He makes being awkward awesome. Hell he makes just about everything seem awesome. To me the 40-Year-Old Virgin represents the most intensely funny of Apatow’s offerings. The film is damn funny thats all that needs to be said about it. The supporting cast that includes Paul Rudd, Catherine Keener, Seth Rogen, Jane Lynch, and Romany Malco pepper hilarious one-liners throughout.
Filmpact: Explores the social expectations and taboos of sex. Launches Steve Carell into the comedy stratosphere. A man every average Joe can connect with.
“You know how I know you’re gay? You have a rainbow bumper sticker on your car that says, “I like it when balls are in my face.””
“I dated this woman… wait. Lemme rephrase that. I dated this whore for like two years… and she stomped all over my heart.”
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