So, where’s the Judd Apatow of yore? The classic Judd Apatow, the revolutionary funnyman who was doing the exact same kinds of things he does today? You know, coming-of-age comedies about 40 year-old man-children spackled with heart-warming dramatic bits? Yes, he changed so much, that Judd Apatow. And by that I mean he hasn’t changed at all.
Is that good? Well, one thing is certain: Apatow has lodged himself into a niche that no one else is touching right now, so without him we would be devoid of the types of movies he does. You know, hilarious treatises on how abandoning your youthful adventurous spirit and settling down to an oppressive suburban non-existence is an inevitable fact of life and you should just start accepting it before your happiness gets the better of you (says the celebrity millionaire auteur).
But is that niche so big? Is there anymore to be done within that formula? Judd himself certainly thinks so: This is 40, a spin-off of Knocked Up, is set for theatrical release this December 21 (if the Mayans were wrong about the world exploding), and, judging by the trailers, it’s a snug fit for the pattern. The plot, apparently, is about how you should come to terms with the fact that you’re getting old by conforming to society’s expectations of old people’s behavior. Mid-life crisis in reverse. A call to fall in line with the forlorn march of time circling the barren hills of advanced age that will lead us all to the grave one day.
Maybe that explains why, though pretty funny, the trailer is still set against a funeral dirge of indie-folk melancholia. Laugh while you can, mortal.
I’ll clarify that I dig his movies, to an extent. I’ve laughed my ass off at them, and, for that, I’m thankful. But still, they make me depressed as hell. It’s like Judd has opened the window to show us the void of fate we all float towards, and we laugh in resignation.
Pretty cynical and conformist for profanity-driven, dick-joke comedies, wouldn’t you say?
So it’s not so much that Judd Apatow is getting stale, as it’s that he was stale right out of the bat. His movies are about staleness. They are a celebration of conventional age roles. And, though he deserves credit for keeping us entertained within that level of bleakness, the message is sure to wear you out for a while, and maybe it’s time after him to move in a different direction. In other words: Make funny shit that isn’t also depressing.
Perhaps he should look up who Richard Branston is. That would likely change his perspective on old age.