Judd Apatow’s movies are among my favorite of the last 10 years. I’ve enjoyed each one of them immensely and I look forward eagerly to each one. Yes, they’re rather crass, but they’re always well done. I’ve loved Freaks and Geeks, his early show, as well as his following show Undeclared. However, as much as I’ve enjoyed both Anchorman and The 40 Year-Old Virgin, I don’t think they’re his strongest films. Both of which, however, appear on the Top 100 Modern Classic Movies You Should See Before You Die.
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is a well done play on the overly misogynistic era that was the 70s, and how the introduction of a woman into the pure-man’s world that was the evening news causes chaos, mayhem, and destruction. It’s very funny, if blatantly, overly crude. Will Farrel does well in his role as a man who believes himself to be emasculated after the arrival of Christina Applegate’s character. He’s supported by a cast frequently seen in each other’s films, including Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner–even with cameos from Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, and Vince Vaughn. It’s a lot of fun, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a must-see before you die film.Steve Carell’s breakout film, and Judd Apatow’s directorial debut is The 40 Year-Old Virgin. It’s hilarious, but the premise is a little weak–it lack gravity, merely a get-laid flick that ends up romantic. It’s raunchier than the previous one, which is little surprise, considering the title. The supporting cast is broader, including Seth Rogen, whom I really like, as well as more Paul Rudd. Again, I don’t know why this is on the top 100 list–it seems a bit out of place.
If I had to pick any two of his films to put on the list, it wouldn’t be these.
Knocked Up, starring Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl is a surprisingly tender and unique romantic comedy. I was intrigued by this poster to begin with, which set the movie up as a different breed of comedy. There are certainly bawdy moments, but there’s a reality to the film, albeit there are absurd moments at times. Essentially, it’s not so much as two people changing their lives to be with each other, like many romantic comedies. It’s two people making a bad decision, but doing something right with it, in the midst of all the good, the bad, and the ugly that comes with the situation. I really, really like this movie, and if we’re picking Apatow films, it’s the one I’d pick.
Pineapple Express is a cautionary tale about drugs with Seth Rogen and James Franco. It’s about a stoner who witnesses a murder by a dirty cop and it can be traced back to him because of the type of marijuana he was smoking at the time. From that point, all hell breaks loose and it literally becomes an action-comedy that stems from smoking weed. One of the things I love about it is that the fight scenes are exactly like regular idiots would be while duking it out. It’s just craziness throughout–and a lot of fun at the same time.
The most recent Apatow film is Funny People, a dramedy starring Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen, Leslie Mann, all supported by a large cast. Adam Sandler plays an aging comedian who finds out he’s terminally ill and going through a midlife crisis, wanting to find meaning in a life filled with frivolity. It’s incredibly poignant and tempered with humor.
It should also be mentioned that, while I’ve mentioned Seth Rogen a bit here as an actor, he’s also a writer for quite a few of these movies, as well as for Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. Also, Jason Segel (the inimitable Marshall from How I Met Your Mother) got his start with Judd Apatow and frequently collaborates with him and members of that entourage.
These movies remain better contenders for a place, if not places in the Top 100 Modern Movie Classics, as Judd Apatow has helped to usher in new spins on well-worn genres: the Rom-Com, the Action Comedy, and the Dramedy. I appreciate what he’s done, and I hope he’ll continue his streak of success.