Will This Judd Apatow Movie Be Any Good? Vulture Does the Math

Photo: Photos: Getty Images (Apatow); Courtesy of their distributors (movies)

This weekend sees yet another product of the Judd Apatow Comedy-Industrial Complex released into theaters, as the Owen Wilson comedy Drillbit Taylor makes its way to a multiplex near you. This is just the latest salvo from a producing-writing-directing machine whose last six films have made an estimated $754,000,000,000 at the box office and won four dozen Oscars. But it's apparent that not all Judd Apatow movies are created equal: Some are masterpieces of American comedy; some are simply funny movies without much cultural resonance; some are actually kind of bad. Given that there are dozens more on the way, how can you tell them apart? And how do you know if they'll be any good? Let Vulture's Department of Addition and Subtraction investigate!

If the movie...
For example:

Scoring result:
Is directed by Judd Apatow. Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin. 4 points.
Is directed by an unlikely indie-film auteur. Greg Mottola (Superbad). 3 points.
Is directed by some dude. Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard), Adam McKay (Talladega Nights). -2 points.
Is written by Judd Apatow. Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin. 4 points (full credit); 2 points (shared credit).
Is written by some acolyte of Judd Apatow's, so you know he helped. Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. 3 points.
Has a colon in its title. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. -3 points.
Co-stars Apatow's relatives. Leslie Mann (The 40-Year-Old Virgin); Apatow's kids (Knocked Up). 1 point per relative.
Co-stars former cast member of Freaks & Geeks. Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, James Franco. 1 point per freak or geek.
Co-stars former cast member of Undeclared. Jay Baruchel, Loudon Wainwright III. .5 points per Undeclareder.
Includes wangs. Superbad, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. 1 point per minute of wang screen time.
Includes movie stars in major roles. Will Ferrell (Talladega Nights), Owen Wilson (Drillbit Taylor). -1 point.
Includes a legitimate dramatic actress who has proven her chops in movies or TV. Catherine Keener (The 40 Year-Old Virgin), Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up). 3 points.
Includes McLovin. Superbad. 10 points.

Broken down in this manner, the Apatow oeuvre comes into focus.
Bad movies: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (-8)
Okay movies: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (-1), Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (0)
Really good movies: The 40 Year-Old Virgin (14)
Great movies: Knocked Up (19), Superbad (23.5)

More important, what does this mean for future Apatovian releases?

Drillbit Taylor is written by Apatow acolyte Seth Rogen (3), but directed by Steven Brill, the auteur behind Little Nicky (-2). It stars Owen Wilson (-1) and is sadly free of Apatow's repertory company of comedians, though Leslie Mann does play a supporting role (1). As far as we know, it contains no wangs, no seasoned dramatic actress, and no McLovin. It should score about a 1, which is to say it will be slightly better than Anchorman.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is also written by an Apatow acolyte, Freaks & Geeks vet Jason Segel (3), who also stars along with Undeclared's Carlo Gallo (1.5). Sadly, it's directed by Nicholas Stoller (-2). We are promised wangs, "several scenes," so let's say three minutes (3). No big stars, but Kristen Bell is at least as proven an actress as Katherine Heigl (3). That gives us a relatively solid movie, with a total score of 8.5 — somewhere between Anchorman and The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Not bad!

And what about the upcoming Pineapple Express? Directed by David Gordon Green (3), written by Seth Rogen (3), starring Rogen and James Franco (2), devoid of movie stars and colons. We're up to 8 points already, and we haven't even counted the ten minutes of wangs that are sure to appear. Sign us up!

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