Ranking the Films Directed by Judd Apatow

Ranking the Films Directed by Judd Apatow

Ranking the Films Directed by Judd Apatow

Judd Apatow has been making audiences laugh for decades. He has written, directed and produced some of the funniest movies the world has ever seen. He has also helped create shows such as Freaks and Geeks, Love, and Crashing —three of the funniest shows to ever grace a television screen. Apatow has produced films like Super Bad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Big Sick and more. He has also dabbled in stand-up comedy, proving that his humor encompasses more than just the silver screen. The great thing about Judd Apatow films, though, is that many of them have a surprising amount of heart to them. Yes, there are a lot of drug and dick jokes, but his films are also coming-of-age stories. It just so happens that the characters in his movies are usually 40-ish years old when they finally come of age.

As a frequent collaborator of Will Ferrell, Seth Rogen, and Adam Sandler, Apatow has proven himself to be an extremely successful writer and producer. It is the films in which he has directed that we want to focus on, however. Surprisingly, Apatow has only directed 5 films himself. While he has written and produced an innumerable amount of content, there have only been a handful of movies that demanded his direction.

5) Trainwreck (2015)

Ranking the Films Directed by Judd Apatow

In 2015, Judd Apatow directed a film starring comedian Amy Schumer that was loosely based on her own experiences as a single woman in a big city. Schumer plays Amy Townsend, a hard-drinking, free-living magazine writer who absolutely does not feel obligated to “fall in love.” Except then she does. Like all of us who live in denial, she fights the feelings she’s, um, feeling but to no avail. Now, Amy must come to terms with her feelings *shudder* before she loses the man of her dreams (or, at least, the man of her power naps). Trainwreck was written by Schumer herself, but Apatow directed it and, while it wasn’t a bad film by any means, it was pretty paint-by-numbers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. “Standard” Judd Apatow is still better than 80% of other movies. The beauty of Trainwreck is that it flips gender roles on its balls. Usually, it’s a man that is the slacker with the heart of gold. This time, it’s a woman and the dichotomy of our expectations and the reality of the film makes for a pretty good time at the movies.

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4)  This is 40 (2012)

Ranking the Films Directed by Judd Apatow

This is 40 was billed as the “sort of sequel to Knocked Up.” It’s so much more than that, though. In fact, one could cut out all ties to Knocked Up and it would still be just as good of a movie. This is 40 follows Pete, Debbie, and their two daughters as they try to navigate family life along with their own individual problems. And boy, do they have problems. Pete has a struggling record label that is about to go under, Debbie is feeling her age and also might have an employee that is stealing from her, and the two kids are trying to deal with their own lives while watching their parents snap at each other more and more. This is 40 is a comedy, to be sure. It’s hilarious. But it’s also a fairly realistic take on a family unit anchored by a couple on the brink of “middle age.” There are struggles and heartbreaks, peaks and valleys, love and sex (but only on Tuesdays).

Though This is 40 is a movie, one can’t help but feel like this was a glimpse into Apatow’s own psyche in regards to his age, his family and mortality. Of course, with Debbie and the two girls being Apatow’s own real-life wife and daughters, the comparisons are pretty obvious. Still, This is 40 is a wonderful tale about family, resiliency and, well, turning 40.

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3) Knocked Up (2007)

Ranking the Films Directed by Judd Apatow

We guess this could be called the “sort of prequel” to This is 40. Much like Trainwreck, Knocked Up tells the story of a young-ish person caught between youth and adulthood. Seth Rogen stars in this film, as stoner/slacker Ben Stone (heh). Stone meets young, career-focused Alison Scott (played by Katherine Heigl) at a bar and the two have a one night stand. This leads to an unplanned pregnancy and now Ben and Alison must navigate parenthood and all the struggles that come with it, while also getting to know each other. While This is 40 explores middle-age, Knocked Up explores the idea of being young, dumb, and completely unprepared. It’s a hilarious look at an all-too-real situation that many young people find themselves in.

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2) The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)

Ranking the Films Directed by Judd Apatow

As the name implies, this film is about a 40-year-old virgin, played by Steve Carell. The plot is about the friends of said 40-year-old-virgin trying to get him laid. The end. That’s the plot, but to say that’s all that encompasses this film is a vast understatement. The 40-year-old Virgin is so funny, so clever, so relatable that it’s like Judd Apatow studied the lives of virgins for months! Carell plays an affable loner named Andy. Andy works at a typical electronics store. He comes to work, he does his job, and then he goes home to his video games and action figures. He has neither the desire nor the compulsion to give into his carnal desires. This was the movie that really made audiences take a look at Judd Apatow. Though he produced films before this, as well as a somewhat popular television show, it was 40-year-old-virgin that really put Apatow on the map. His formula for this film would present itself in numerous other projects over the years. That’s because it’s a formula that works. Apatow comedies are less about plot and more about character. That’s why his characters are so damn charming, relatable and memorable.

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1) Funny People (2009)

Ranking the Films Directed by Judd Apatow

The ranking of this film might be a bit controversial. That’s because Funny People isn’t a “comedy,” per se. It’s more of a dramedy. It’s also perhaps Judd Apatow’s most mature film. Funny People is about a comedian-turned-actor named George Simmons (played with remarkable restraint by Adam Sandler. Don’t let his vanity projects fool you, homeboy can act). Simmons was recently diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and he is now looking at his life through a different lens. Faced with his own mortality, Simmons reaches out to a young, struggling comedian.

We’re never quite sure what George was looking to get out of his relationship with Ira (played by Apatow vet Seth Rogen), but what’s great about Funny People is that he doesn’t actually seem to get what he’s looking for. That goes for any of his relationships. He never finds the peace, the forgiveness or the love that he was searching for. George survives his illness but does he actually find a new lease on life? We never find out and that’s why Funny People is such an incredible film. It’s definitely Apatow’s most mature film and we have to think that Adam Sandler had a hand in the script, as it certainly mirrors many aspects of his own life.

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Weekend: May. 23, 2019, May. 26, 2019

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