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!
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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