Sunday, April 26, 2009


He’s the man of the hour right now, only the hour has lasted a couple years already. You’ve either gotten pretty annoyed at being bamboozled at every corner with FROM THE GUY WHO BROUGHT YOU THIS OR THAT or you’re a big fan of his trademark humor (taking a simple idea and mixing in poignant character-driven moments with raunchy dialogue and adult themes). I do consider myself a fan of most of his movies, and he certainly wipes the floor with anything that could ever come out of Diablo Cody’s monkey brain, but let’s not hoist him on the pedestal just yet. The man has churned out some winners, but he’s also the driving force behind some pretty smelly green turds. And rather than put up a top ten list of his vehicles (he’s had his hand or arm in about a dozen big projects, so ranking the ten best inadvertently sells a majority of his work as pretty damn good), I’ll just trim the fat and rank the four best, two worst.


2. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan

Okay, I understand that it’s important to actually SEE the movies that you praise or criticize, but come on. Are you serious? This movie had stink on it from the first minute I saw the trailer. Rarely do I think it fair to judge a movie based on trailer and pre-release buzz, but this one fit in quite nicely. The feet joke got old after the first viewing, as did the accent. Basically, all I can say is don’t see this movie, in some way or another you will be disappointed. I remember when Adam Sandler actually tried with his comedies and they turned out semi-okay (like Billy Madison, the Wedding Singer and Happy Gilmore). But after the Waterboy, 8 Crazy Nights, and Chuck & Larry, it seems like he knows that putting his face on screen for 90 minutes will get him at least 10 million dollars regardless of the on-screen jokes. My recommendation is to just skip this movie and rent something good like Flight of the Conchords. Way to go, Apatow.

1. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

It worked for some of you, and it was targeted heavily towards the Anchorman crowd (which I like), but it was just one of those movies that fired about 1,000 jokes at you and maybe a third stuck at best. For most movies, 333 well delivered jokes makes a great movie, but this one was just hard to watch. First of all, NASCAR blows, so making a movie showcasing it is hard to sell for me in the first place. Secondly, it wasted the talents of the great John C. Reilly, who is capable of much better comedy. (if you check out the archives, week 1, you’ll find a nice segment about his work as Dr. Steve Brule) I did see this movie in the theaters, and it was 100% the kind of crap I wish I hadn’t wasted money on. Frankly, this was the beginning of the end for Will Ferrell fronted movies. And it sure wasn’t worthy of screen goddess Amy Adams. Say it with me now, NASCAR SUCKS. No, it reaaaallllyyy sucks. Honest to God.


4. Backlash

This isn’t a TV show or movie, but it is something conceived by Apatow and some members of his stable (Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, the Mac kid (regrettably) and Darryl from the Office). Basically, it’s viral marketing for Walk Hard that makes fun of viral marketing. Ben Stiller (an old school member of Apatow’s early crew) tried the same thing for Tropic Thunder promotion, and it worked for him too, but here’s a superior stab on the issue. Bonus points for including Rock Band, even though the song they play kinda blows. And it reminds us that while black-white tensions can bring out some funny comedic touches if done right, jewish-everyone else issues are plenty hilarious too.

3. 40 Year Old Virgin

This is the breakthrough movie for Apatow, one in which he wrote, produced, and directed. Still one of his best, the movie holds up largely because of Steve Carrell’s pitch perfect naivety, but everyone was cast just right, even down to Apatow’s wife as the “fuckin’ franch toast” drunkie who sucks at driving drunk. With a premise that seems a bit thin, this movie could’ve tanked in the hands of other filmmakers, but Apatow built this on characters who were just the right amount of weird and hilarious.

2. Superbad

Though Apatow didn’t have as much of an influence on this as 40 Year Old Virgin or Knocked Up, his touch is evident here. With the first draft written by Apatow groupie Seth Rogen and some other kid when they were 12 or 13, each subsequent version was guided by Apatow, who showed the writing duo what to emphasize and what to take out. I don’t need to preach about how funny this movie is, asses across the country were laughed off when this came out in ’07. One down side, this was the second movie to start capitalizing on the Judd Buzz. FROM THE GUY WHO BROUGHT YOU THE 40 YEAR KNOCKEDUP BLAblablagrrrrrrr. It’s been lame ever since, but still. This movie rocks.

1. Freaks and Geeks

This is the one that started it all. Sure, Apatow was pretty established by this point (they don’t give nobody’s TV shows unless it’s MTV reality horseshit), he cut his teeth on The Ben Stiller Show, Larry Sanders, and HEAVYWEIGHTS, but this is where he first made his mark. Set in 1980, the show chronicles the high school lives of two classes of students. Yep, you guessed it, the freaks and geeks. The freaks are the older kids who don’t care about school, do drugs, and pretty much concern themselves with good times and great music. The geeks, however, enjoy Dungeons & Dragons, TV shows like Dallas, movies like the Jerk, and the AV club. It may sound a bit cliché, but this show came out when that cliché was being established in pop culture. Of course it’s something that deserves an honest watch, because true comedy doesn’t just come from funny jokes and situations. In the end, this show amplified what we all have known for an awful long time: true comedy comes from other people’s misery. Before The Office set the gold standard for awkward comedy, Judd displayed it’s full glory in Freaks & Geeks, so if you watch it and don’t like it? Then we can’t be friends, man. It’s that simple.

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