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Critical Analysis: Judd Apatow

Discussion in 'Entertainment Forum' started by popdisaster00, May 26, 2016.

  1. Judd's Filmography: Judd Apatow - IMDb

    It's been over a decade since Apatow released The 40-Year-Old Virgin. In the last 10 years, he's produced and/or directed some of our favorite comedies and more or less kick-started the careers of Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, and other actors that are now household names.

    More recently, he's been producing Girls (HBO) and Love (Netflix). You also can't forget his earlier beloved works: Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, The Larry Sanders Show, and so forth.

    I think that Apatow is to comedy in the 00's that John Hughes was to comedy in the 80's.

    Let's discuss.
  2. smoke4thecaper

    out of context reference Supporter

    My only gripe with Apatow's films is they don't have the same type of replay value comedies that came before his have. I'd exclude The 40 Year Old Virgin b/c I do think that's a classic comedy film (could use some tightening up, but still a wonderful story with terrific characters), but as well as his films do financially or with critics, many of them don't really hold up to countless views. I like Knocked Up, but I don't often go back to it and desire to watch it over other, better comedy films. As funny and quotable as his films have been, he tends to be overzealous in his self-indulgence and too many suffer from their length and lack of visual pastiche.

    I definitely think his influence has been incredibly profound and when you see just how much he's been a part of, it's pretty fucking gnarly. He's given so many filmmakers an opportunity to bring their projects to both film and television, and without Apatow, it's safe to say the world of comedy would be remarkably different. He outlasted film trends and imitators alike, and when you examine his entire run, start to finish? A majority of his competitors no longer pose a threat. In fact, his competition are filmmakers he helped bring to prominence.

    The fact stands, however, that as a director, he fattens too many of his scripts with improv scenes that go on too long and lets things breathe a little too much, IMO, which take away from their "rewatchability factor". I appreciate the "realism" in his characters and their situations, unafraid to witness the low points of characters you feel could be very autobiographical -- I just wouldn't put Knocked Up, Funny People, This is 40 or Trainwreck in the 'classic comedies of all-time' label.
    popdisaster00 likes this.
  3. iCarly Rae Jepsen

    run away with me Platinum

    I think the criticism he gets of being too ego stroking and too focused on white straight male malaise are fair but I enjoy his movies nonetheless
    Aaron Mook and collin512 like this.
  4. colorlesscliche

    Trusted Prestigious

    One of my favorites - classic, every time.
  5. Nathan

    Always do the right thing. Supporter

    Knocked Up and the 40 Year Old Virgin are very, very strong comedies. Funny People has a lot of aspects I like even if it has flaws. His work as a producer in TV has netted some really great stuff, Freaks & Geeks is classic for good reason, the first two seasons of Girls are some of my favorite television seasons ever produced (I started season 3 but got very busy as it started and haven't caught up since), and Love is another really strong entry. He's very good at finding and elevating talent and giving funny people a playground, but nothing he's personally directed has been notably focused and strong since Knocked Up.
  6. Morrissey


    How much work does he actually do on Girls? The series feels far more like Dunham's film Tiny Furniture than it does any Apatow film.

    I struggle to remember much of Knocked Up, Funny People was an interesting sort of ambitious failure, and Trainwreck lives up to its title. It should never be forgotten that at the end of Trainwreck a woman with a good job and a social life has to make drastic changes to herself in order to win back a doctor. It is the sort of retrograde insult that you would expect from decades earlier. That is sort of the strain in all his work; lure people in with very raunchy humor and then sell them cheesy moralism. Knocked Up and Juno's handling of the abortion issue is so in line with right-wing politics that it would not be a surprise to learn they had underwritten the portion of the film; 2007 and 2008 were so often apologies for the Bush Administration from people who never would have admitted it.

    It is hard to know how much of this is purposeful and how much is laziness. His work as a writer stands up more than as a director, so perhaps that drives him more.
  7. Nathan

    Always do the right thing. Supporter

    He's written a few episodes of Girls and while it's definitely Lena Dunham's project, my understanding is he has a little bit of creative input.

    Knocked Up's unintentional pro-life stance is more forgivable to me than Juno's. If you're telling a story about giving birth, an abortion tells a very different story than I think Juno or Knocked Up were going for (Obvious Child is a great counterpoint). Unlike Juno, though, Knocked Up didn't explicitly sentimentalize the pro-life argument, at least from what I remember. That scene in Juno with the pro-life protestor really comes off poorly to me today.
  8. OhTheWater

    Let it run Supporter

    Freaks and Geeks is his opus
    mad and Adrian Villagomez like this.
  9. His rounded characters on Freaks & Geeks are probably his best accomplishment (that I've seen). I love how real the series feels. Like when Lindsay convinces Jason Segel's to follow his dream and audition for a rock band. The audition is a disaster, and there's a bitter lesson there that what we we want isn't always what we can achieve. Similar to the way Sam's dream girl didn't live up to his expectations.

    But there are positive surprises too, like how the coach treated the geeks better than a stereotypical gym coach would in a different show.
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  10. the rural juror

    carried in the arms of cheerleaders

    This scene makes me want to cry.

    popdisaster00 likes this.
  11. Jake Gyllenhaal

    Wookie of the Year Supporter

    Apatow has said that scene is his personal favorite and closest snapshot of his own adolescence.
    popdisaster00 likes this.
  12. elphshelf

    100% made of farts Supporter

    I've always thought he uses far too many pop culture references/namedropping as punchlines, This is 40 being the worst offender for this if memory serves.
  13. This Is 40 was forgettable.
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  14. tdlyon

    Most Dope Supporter

    I tend to like his work as a producer and writer more than as a director (though I love 40YOV and Knocked Up and think Funny People is super underrated), but I love his general body of work. He's definitely one of my favorite presences in modern comedy.

    He also seems like a really cool guy, I read his book Sick In the Head and it's awesome seeing somebody who's such a huge comedy nerd like me get to live out his lifelong dreams and become friends with his idols.
  15. ForestOfAllusion

    Old Aesthetic Prestigious

    This is an interesting take on it that I don't disagree with to an extent. Apatow has written and directed some gems for sure, but his formula does seem too (lack of a better term) formulaic. Trainwreck is a perfect example. Amy Schumer basically plays herself in the film, but manages to change everything about herself for love or normalcy. Same with Seth Rogan's character in Knocked Up, yet you can argue his life had no meaning before knocking someone up, but that's besides the point. His film Superbad seems to be the only one in my memory that has the real message, be yourself - whether that being, you do not have to a drunken asshole at a party to impress a crush or be honest with your friends.

    Apatow's films have a lot of heart, but they do have an aire of laziness. Maybe the complacency of fame has gotten to him, but I think he plays a good part executive producing new talent so that a new monolith in comedy can emerge.
  16. He only produced Superbad
  17. ForestOfAllusion

    Old Aesthetic Prestigious

    I feel like I knew that and typed that out anyway. Good catch, thanks.
    popdisaster00 likes this.
  18. MrRobot

    Twitter/IG: @scott325

    I like most of his stuff.

    As far as his tv stuff goes, Freaks & Geeks is obviously amazing, but I think Undeclared really gets overlooked. It's quite a hidden gem that many people don't ever talk about.
    Aaron Mook likes this.
  19. Undeclared is fun, but I think it could have grown into a much better show. Whereas Freaks & Geeks just started strong.
  20. Zilla

    Trusted Supporter

    I used to be a huge Apatow fan, but kind of gave up after "This Is 40." I've just grown tired of the "woe is me, I'm a white person with a good job" formula that just about everything he has a hand in is centered on. That and the improv element is really stale.

    I'm glad he's given careers to Seth Rogen and Jason Segel, both of whom are doing great on their own. And Apatow's books have been great too, so there's still hope.
  21. MrRobot

    Twitter/IG: @scott325

    I think the best film to stem from the Apatow group of original friends is Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and only a couple have come close to it. It's probably one of my 10 favorite comedies in the last decade. I wish Segel would write something that good again.
  22. DarkHotline

    Proud To Bathe With A Rag On A Stick Prestigious

    Freak and Geeks is forever the best thing he ever did. I honestly lost interest in him after This Is 40, such a slog to sit through.
  23. Zilla

    Trusted Supporter

    I agree with that. It's just the right length and never gets too self-indulgent or long in the tooth. I think Segel got tired of being viewed as the lovable schlubby guy from the Apatow clan and branched out on his own. I wouldn't be surprised if he continues to stay away from that.
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  24. Nathan

    Always do the right thing. Supporter

    Forgetting Sarah Marshall is strong, I just rewatched it recently, but it doesn't have the focus or strength of filmmaking that Superbad, Walk Hard, or Anchorman do. Greg Mottola might be my favorite filmmaker who's helmed an Apatow film, with the exception of David Gordon Greene, who I don't really count as an Apatow filmmaker.
  25. tdlyon

    Most Dope Supporter

    Pineapple Express is my favorite Apatow-related movie but I love a good deal of them.

    I really wish Segel still worked with these guys, he's one of my favorites but he pretty much disappeared after HIMYM ended (I know he did that End of the Tour movie)
    Aaron Mook likes this.