(2007) dir. Judd Apatow
Keeping up with the Apatows. The Judd Apatows, that is.
The marketing campaign for this film, comparing it to the funniest film this side of Apatow’s last film, The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005), really struck me as a gasping ploy to get people to see it. But after seeing Superbad (2007), which Apatow produced rather than wrote or directed, I became more amenable to seeing Knocked Up. So here we are.
I’d actually read a couple of interesting pieces on Knocked Up in the New Yorker, the first of which took it and some other recent “romantic comedies” and debunked and compared them to the classic Screwball comedies of Preston Sturges and others with an eye toward the inter-social relationships and what could be gleaned from a world in which the romantic male lead went from being a sharp go-getter to being a slob and a man-child. I won’t go into a whole analysis of that, since the New Yorker article did a very interesting job of it, which I still think could warrant even more analysis.
What I would say, though, is that this is a good way of looking at not only Apatow’s work, but the current state of cinematic comedies. The whole thing about genre analysis is that it does offer for some good, specific vantages into culture based on the ways that narratives either play with, embrace, or avoid the stereotypes, cliches, or traditions of genre to achieve a more populist goal of “entertaining” and making people laugh. Or at least, that seems to be the goal of most comedies anyways.
Apatow is noted for his crass qualities but also for his ability to evoke sentiment and bring out a bit more “depth” in character that actually allows for deeper audience identification. It strikes me that Apatow has a lot of qualities, including working with some talented actors, comedians, and writers who populate his films with amusing little asides in cameos or bit parts that help define the world of his films better. Still, the work is largely uneven. I think his talents might still grow, but I don’t know. I thought the same of the Farrelly brothers after There’s Something About Mary (1998), but they’ve pretty much gone straight downhill since then.
I don’t know. Maybe I am just utterly humorless.
There seem to be quite a few films targeting this generation and its transition to parenthood. It’s an open topic, but cliches abound. I should be able to identify. Maybe I am just too grouchy.