Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Issues With Apatow

Monday night, I watched "Inside The Actors Studio," which sometimes features interesting actors and others affiliated with the entertainment industry. But this episode really made my blood boil.
I'll preface this by saying I strongly disagree with the practice of putting a star or well-known personality on the show around the same time their movie is about to open in theatres. This show used to be above such cheap Hollywood marketing tactics, but not even host James Lipton is above it now.
This week's guest was writer/director Judd Apatow, best known for resurrecting the teen sex & drug comedies that were popular 20 years ago. I'm not a big fan at all. It's just not my cup of tea. So, as they were discussing his work, which includes "The 40 Year Old Virgin," and his latest effort, "Funny People," one particular comment from Lipton made me cringe.
He was leading in to a clip from the movie "Knocked Up," with Seth Rogen, and was quoting from a highly resputable source (something like "Time" magazine, "Newsweek," or a major newspaper) about how that was the "summer that Apatow & (Seth) Rogen saved comedy," then spouted this stomach-turning phrase: "Let's take a look at a clip to see why (he named the publication) calls it "an instant classic."
Hang on a second. Back up a moment. Excuse me, whaaaaaaaat?!? "Knocked Up" an "instant classic"? I almost became instantly ill. Yes, I saw it, and I'm no prude, but in no way, shape or form should that, or any of Apatow's work be considered "classics." It's rude, crude humor that succeeds where it's meant to, and doesn't rise above the level of the lowest common denominator of moviegoers.
So, I take issue with Mr. Apatow, as well as James Lipton, for labeling such material (or at least repeating it) and addressing it as "classic."
These are movies that will never win Oscars. They're popcorn movies good for a few immature laughs and nothing more. And please, spare me the "well, it had a good message" argument. The only one of his movies I'll buy with that defense is "The 40 Year Old Virgin" which did wind up with a positive message (at the very end of the movie).
They just don't make movies like we used to, and unfortunately, most people, like sheep, will agree with whatever the Hollywood machine feeds them. They'll say it's good, even if it's garbage.
Take my advice, if you want to watch a classic comedy, dig deep and pick something like a Marx Brothers or Charlie Chaplin film. Trust me, there are hundreds of choices of real humor out there. Tickle your funny bone with something that won't make you squeamish and wish you had 90 minutes of your life back.

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