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judd apatow

The work of Judd Apatow will be celebrated when most of the world is long dead and gone. The man knows how to put good movies on the big screen whether or not he writes, directs, produces, it doesn’t seem to matter as everything his name graces turns to gold. Current darling Forgetting Sarah Marshall, written and starring long-time Apatow actor Jason Segel, ups the ante once again and further solidifies the formula for a guy’s romantic comedy, this one just so happens to be a relationship disaster of epic proportions.

Peter Bretter (Segel) is dating Sarah Marshall (Kristen Bell) a hot, blonde TV starlet starring in one of the best lampoons of CSI: Miami ever put on film. After eating a mixing bowl full of Froot Loops, Sarah breaks the bad news to a heart-broken and naked Peter, she’s leaving him and his Dracula musical. Peter begins to break down after a not so successful pep talk with his step-brother (Bill Hader), and decides to take a vacation to Hawaii and get away from it all.


Once in Hawaii Peter meets Rachel (Mila Kunis) and accidentally bumps into Sarah and new boy-toy Aldous (Russell Brand) on holiday as well. As you can guess, the next 90 minutes are filled with well timed jokes, visual cues, awkward moments, and just about everything else you’d expect from an Apatow production including the touching moments as well.

While the storyline itself isn’t anything revolutionary or new, it’s a simple break up story, but there are so many layers to each of the characters that you actually feel bad for Peter to the point where, near the film’s climax, when he has the opportunity to get Sarah back, and acts on his wishes, the entire theater erupted in displeasure. That’s the kind of involvement director’s dream of, and first-time director Nicholas Stoller and Segel’s script really bring out the audience’s emotions.


Like Knocked Up and 40 Year Old Virgin, it’s the characters that really make this film what it is, the romantic connections do nothing if you don’t care for each person involved. Yet, the film also needs to be funny, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall will have you splitting many times throughout with some very memorable gags, and some great, unexpected lines that had me rolling, even when the rest of the audience had stopped laughing long ago. Many Apatow-alumni show up including Paul Rudd, Jonah Hill, and Segel himself being a veteran of Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared.

However nearly stealing the show is 30 Rock co-star Jack McBrayer as newlywed Darald who has to please his wife and consummate the relationship. A montage near the end of the second act, with him receiving advice from rocker Aldous, is hilarious beyond all bounds, and the results we’re treated to later didn’t leave a single person not laughing hysterically.


Much has been said about the film, whether it’s the full frontal male nudity, or the fact it seems to be the perfect romantic comedy geared for guys, Forgetting Sarah Marshall is easily the best film of 2008 so far and hopefully Oscar voters are paying attention and don’t forget to nominate the little guy.

Knocked Up has been described as an ‘instant classic’ in the comedy genre and there’s little to sway me in agreeing with that assertion whole-heartedly. Writer and director Judd Apatow has crafted such a masterful mesh up of the slacker/stoner comedy and infused it with elements from romantic comedies and a big helping of heart that you really feel for the characters and you really, really want to see the movie again after the first viewing.

The film stars Seth Rogen as Ben Stone and the lovely Katherine Heigl as Alison Scott a fictional reporter at E! who gets impregnated by Stone after a one night stand. Alison confronts Ben a few months after their hook-up to reveal the news. Over the course of the film the two fight, bicker, and seemingly can’t get along, but they also fall in love, and while the Hollywood ending is usually frowned upon by this establishment, it seems justified here.

One of Apatow’s greatest abilities is to not only focus on the leads in his movies but also write, big, convincing parts for the supporting cast as well. Here we have Paul Rudd and Apatow’s wife Leslie Mann as a married couple looking for a connection. Alison uses their troubled relationship to picture how she and Ben would end up, this causes a bit of turmoil in their relationship, but by the end of the movie, even the supporting B-storyline has been wrapped up nicely.

In opposition of most comedies, the jokes aren’t front-loaded into the film, Knocked Up is consistently funny with not just belly laughs, but just the little things that make you only chuckle, but still feel as though you are watching a comedy past the one hour mark. Ben’s collection of wayward friends, Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Martin Starr, and Jason Segel, provide enough scene stealing moments and ad-libbed dialog to warrant their own movie, here they’re utilized just enough to be hilarious without grating on your nerves.

Not a lot has been said about Heigl and her performance. Coming from the soapy Grey’s Anatomy hasn’t afforded her many opportunities for comedy work, but she performs admirably her, not just relying on her good looks to stream through the movie. She does a great job of personifying Alison as a twentysomething moving up the corporate ladder only to be thrown through a loop.

The real star of the show is Seth Rogen, easily the funniest supporting character in Apatow’s The 40-Year-Old Virgin, he’s elevated to leading man status her and owns the show. Why he has been passed up for so long will never be certain, but his celebrity stock certainly went up over the weekend with box office numbers and his excellent performance.

As bold as it is to say, Knocked Up could be better than The 40-Year-Old Virgin in many respects, but that’s going to rely on personal opinion more than anything else. What matters most is everything in this film is clear, concise, and clips along through its two-hour runtime providing a more than satisfying beginning, middle, and end. What recent movies can you say that about?

The 40-Year Old Virgin is just one of those movies that comes around once a year that really makes you laugh and enjoy yourself. As cliché as is sounds, the film has enough life and personality to save the rest of the generic box office fare for the rest of the year, and still have an enjoyment factor equal, or better than, any other film we’ll see. There’s so much to like about Virgin that we’ll start with the obvious, Steve Carell.

Simply put, Carell makes The 40-Year Old Virgin into what it is with a great performance topping that of the over-confident, somewhat dim-witted Michael Scott on the US version of The Office. Carell, who also co-wrote the movie with first time feature film director Judd Apatow, invokes the sympathies of the audience as he missteps his way around women with the ultimate goal of losing his virginity. Falling to the peer pressure of his friends (Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, and Romany Malco), Carell’s Andy bar-hops, experiences a visit from a transvestite, and prepares for pornography by lighting candles in one of the longest preparations to pleasure one’s self ever.

While the focus of the film is on Andy, his three friends played by Rudd, Rogen, and Malco cash in for a majority of the laughs. David (Rudd) is infatuated with a former girlfriend as he sinks into depression after meeting up with her one more time. Cal (Rogen) is a ladies man with a crude outlook on life which provides amazing comedic value especially in one of the movie’s latter scenes. Jay (Malco) is the tied down player who has a girlfriend but also manages to score with every other women in the city.

Surprisingly the film is full of depth despite being based on a seemingly shallow premise. At its core it’s a story about a man losing his virginity, but deep down it’s a showcase of just how pathetic and weird we are as a social culture. Something as simple as a thong can provide endless hours of jokes and banter amongst friends and Carell and Apatow’s script showcases this without bounds.

Like Wedding Crashers before it, The 40-Year Old Virgin provides tons and tons of laughs, both scripted and improvised as the actors were allowed to go crazy with certain scenes, such as the oft-mentioned waxing scene. More surprising, most of the funny moments don’t come in any of the scenes we’ve witnessed in trailers and other promotional material. The film earns its R-rating with more than enough nudity, gross-out humor, and bodily fluids to make American Pie and Porky’s jealous.

The film does begin to drag towards the end, much like the aforementioned Crashers, as the story is about 25 minutes longer than it needs to be, but those who can put up with a slightly less funny third-act are treated to one of the funniest credit sequences you’ve seen this side of Anchorman.

The film also has a bit of heart as Andy isn’t portrayed as a 2D character just looking to get his jolly off with a woman. He’s a complicated character who’s torn between looking good in-front of his friends, finding a woman whom he really likes and wants to be with, and sustaining some sanity in a workplace that rivals the Quik Stop in Clerks for its zany employees. Combine this all together with a barrel of laughs and you have a great picture.

Finally, this review wouldn’t be complete without acknowledging Judd Apatow’s excellence in directing this picture. Forced to see two of his most promising TV shows (Freaks & Geeks, Undeclared) canceled at the hands of FOX (and who hasn’t by now), Apatow bounces back in his big screen debut with roaring success in what has a good chance in being the year’s best comedy.   

While the Academy Awards stay away from comedies like this, one can only hope someone gets some recognition for managing to break the mold for a sex comedy and craft something that should inspire future generations to take notice of the skills presented in putting this picture together. As it stands now, The 40-Year Old Virgin is one of the year’s finest films and it would be a shame for anyone to miss it.