There is nobody I can think of that can make people laugh the way Judd Apatow can. As a director, producer, and writer of many hit films like The 40-year-old Virgin, Anchorman, Knocked Up, Bridesmaids, and most recently, This is 40, Judd has become a comedy juggernaut within the industry. His success in this particular genre is one for special recognition, for comedy is no easy task to conquer. You must have a good well thought out script and characters. You must have good actors who have comedic ability for the specific part that will carry the jokes or comedic moments throughout the film. Its not as easy as it sounds, which is why you hear of so very few comedy actors/ actresses, and directors. So how does Judd Apatow do it? What makes his films so continuously successful?
Life is Comedy
“I’m just trying to tell the truth about, you know, the struggle of-- being alive is funny, it's just inherently tragic and also hilarious--in a fun way and in a sad way. That seems to connect with people.” - Apatow
Judd doesn’t make comedy just through jokes, he finds comedy through life struggles dealing with things like family, relationships, work, and even death. His stories are made to relate to real life struggles of the average person’s life and to do the things in life most of us want to do or say but cant out of social expectations. He uses touchy topics that are generally not funny in reality but uses that drama to turn it into something that is acceptable and hilariously funny. Life and it’s unfortunate dealings are his main mechanism. It gives us something that feels real, and makes light of otherwise sad/bad things in life. Here are some examples:
The 40 year-old Virgin
The title alone is enough to grab your attention. 40?...Virgin?...What! Most cant believe those two things are in the same sentence. It brings comedy all its own. Based on the journey of a 40 year-old guy named Andy (Steve Carell) to finally lose his virginity through the help of his friends, he struggles to find a girl and or find one of his liking, and his ignorance and awkwardness about sex becomes comedy gold. Steve Carell embodies the character so perfectly as well as contains the necessary comedic talent, his timing and expressions brought the character and great writing to life.
A drunken one-night stand that was generally supposed to stay that way unexpectedly takes a turn as Alison finds out a few weeks later that she is expecting. The couple isn’t shy of the usual cliché you see in many movies and on television. Alison is tall, thin, blonde, smart, and successful, while Ben is a lazy, overweight, stoner who lives with his no-good friends and does nothing but sit around all day and they must find a way to work it out together. As a journalist on the brink of a career break through with E! News, Alison is now faced with a whole new challenge as she must deal with telling her brand new employers her situation, as well as personally with dealing with Ben and her new reality of a baby on the way. This unlikely love story paves way for comedy as it is sweet, but not too sweet, and unrefined but not too raunchy, but is simply honest and realistic. The movie shows struggles with relationships, commitment, trust, getting old, and growing up which most, if not all couples, come across at one point or another. Also, it is the dirty humor and profanity, of which Judd is known for mastering, that sets the fuel to the fire that makes this movie such a comedic hit.
This is 40
A sequel to Knocked Up, we are brought inside the life of Pete and Debbi and their struggles to keep their family together. Their sex life is strained, their kids hate each other, their businesses are failing, and they are on the verge of loosing their house. As you can imagine with these deep scenarios, Judd made this into one of the best comedies yet. Its very realistic, yet its one of those movies that takes things two step further solely for the comedic effect. And Melissa McCarthy makes an appearance, so no explanation needed there. Nothing is held back, in fact you get the sense of that straight from the beginning when it opens with an argument about Viagara. Its candid, funny, and emotional, all at the same time. It is a unique twist on the average middle-aged couple and family and highlights every aspect you could possibly imagine.
Judd has the ability to know what is too little and too much without pushing it too far. He breaks social barriers of society by voicing scenarios through his characters that many people wish were acceptable in real life. I really enjoy his films and look forward to his new projects.