Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Omnipresence of Apatow

Sigh. Judd Apatow (or rather, the idea/signature style/cinematic sub-sub-genre of "Judd Apatow") is like that person from high school that you keep bumping into once, twice, sometimes three times a year, usually at other people's parties, sometimes out on the street somewhere, and whenever you see him/her you're like "WTF? Are we friends? Why are you still in my life?" But after those WTF moments have happened several years in a row, you just kind of give up and accept the fact that your social circles are inextricably and inexplicably linked, to the point where you almost kind of look forward to the random run-ins, despite whatever stress they may cause you.

Which is to say, for as many issues as I've had with Apatow and his loosely affiliated stable of cohorts over the years, somehow, on this rare weekend when I had both time and money to spare, I found myself taking in I Love You, Man and Adventureland at the theater. WTF? Are we friends? Why are you still in my life?

I Love You, Man, despite peaking early and featuring one of the worst end-of-movie wedding scenes since The 40 Year Old Virgin, is very funny, and Paul Rudd is absurdly charming (srsly, this is the kind of role I didn't even know I wanted him to play when I mentioned in my write-up on Forgetting Sarah Marshall that he needed to start carrying movies on his own again). But, perhaps predictably, it left me wondering why there isn't more space for female oddballs in these films. I mean, when I think of the majority of women I hang out with on a semi-regular basis, it's kind of awesome to realize that they are all extremely weird in totally wonderful ways. They're all super foxy and successful in their fields and many of them are in loving, functional relationships, and there's no doubt that they can match my dude friends pound for pound with The Funny. Obviously I'm biased and my control group is probably way skewed, but you get my point. Why is it seemingly so hard for writers and directors to represent this reality in these movies that have come to dominate our notion of contemporary film comedy? I'm sure Rashida Jones is a fine actress and it's cool that she's doing work on all these TV and film comedies, but her role as Paul Rudd's fiancee was so boring and lame. How much more interesting would this movie have been if she were swapped out for the "wacky" friend played by Sarah Burns (or hell, even Jaime Pressly, with her signature turbo intensity perpetually cranked up to 11), and then treated as the romantic lead, with all her tics and neuroses intact? To this date, Charlyne Yi in Knocked Up, who obviously wasn't even close to a having a prominent role, is the most memorable female character for me in any of these movies, and it's really because she was so gleefully fucking bizarre. More like her, please. This is the reality we live in. There's a reason why people love Tina Fey and Amy Poehler and Kristen Wiig so much. They're the exceptions that prove the rule.

Despite being billed as "from the director of Superbad," I was really, really delighted to find that Adventureland is a sweet and sensitive little movie, full of tenderness and sadness and a nonjudgmental attitude toward the very true-to-life and occasionally morally compromised situations the characters find themselves in. I think if I were just a few years younger, it probably would have knocked me out even more. Jesse Eisenberg is perfect (I gotta check out Roger Dodger again sometime; I remember loving it when I saw it in the theater and totally forgot Eisenberg was the kid in it), and it's so cool to see what a smooth, unforced actor Ryan Reynolds has become, even in this small role. Though I, of course, understand why the movie needed its last scene, part of me wishes it would have seized the ambiguous ending and faded out just before that, with Eisenberg's character on the bus to New York, gazing out the rain-streaked windows, with the lights of the city shining through the raindrops like hundreds of light-emitting diodes, with the Replacements' "Unsatisfied" blaring on the soundtrack. It was such a beautiful moment.

In case you missed it last week, over on Fluxblog, Matthew Perpetua, man of the people, in his infinite wisdom, gave the Internet what it truly wants: kittens, cheeseburgers, and dreamy photo montages of President Obama.

Also in case you missed it, Shawn has been rolling out many exciting changes and additions to the Eat! Drink! Snack! empire: a site redesign, the daily "Nosh Nook" entries, a Twitter feed, and, every Wednesday this April, entries written by special guests from around the world (the first from Germany's very own Jonesalicious).


1 comment:

parowpyro said...

you are too kind...almost as kind as paul rudd.