Let's just get my opinion about Judd Apatow out there right now.... I think he's an idiot, a worthless filmmaker, and someone who could give a rat's ass about the material he's producing.
Many people online like to complain about Kevin smith's lack of good camera work in his films. That's fine. He is kind of a "just shoot the action" kind of director. It doesn't bother me, especially when watching comedies, but I guess I can see the problem people are having.
Why then do Apatow films avoid this complaint? Because that asshat moron hack (I really don't like him) doesn't move the camera.
Watch Clerks. It was a series of vignettes, as Quentin Tarantino once said about it, a series of "stand-up routines." They were well written and easy to identify with for us "real" people living in the real world. So, in a way, the unmoving camera actually works with the story, giving us a sort of proscenium view into this world. It works.
That's kind of how Apatow does it. Except he takes his bloated script that reads like it was written by an idiot (you know, Apatow himself) and then covers up the weakness by having camera A and camera B just roll on actor's improv. It's not a creative choice; it's lazy.
I like stand up comedy as much as the next person. But I need a story when it comes to a movie. I need something to follow, to care about, to identify with, or even, at the barest minimum, feel bad for. Kevin Smith does this exceedingly well. Apatow presents us with pretty unlikeable characters who make jokes that don't move the story forward at all.
Superbad is my favorite of the Apatow label, but it was written by people who are actually funny, and directed by a guy who knows how to point a camera.
Gosh, I have even started talking about "This is 40" yet.
Okay, so, you remember "Knocked Up?" Pretty funny film. Kind of pointless. And really, really, really effing long. That Vegas scene? What was the point? It had one thing, one thing that kind of related later, but that was it.
You know why "Knocked Up" was good? Seth Rogen. Like him or hate him, but he can, when given the opportunity, control a scene. And I genuinely like him. He makes me laugh and he's got his own brand of charm that I really enjoy.
He was to "Knocked Up" what Steve Carell was to "40 Year Old Virgin." You know... The reason to watch the movie.
In "This is 40", you have Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy both actors, but in this film, with these characters... God, kill me.
This is a movie about over-privileged and unlikable idiots who argue a bunch and hate each other, though I guess not really, hide stuff from each other, and do things that generally aren't healthy for a relationship.
That last bit is fine, as it makes for good conflict, but where the movie really starts to struggle, and continues to struggle, is the fact that, like all Apatow films, the premise feels like the punch line of a joke stretched into a 2-hour film, with lots of improv work to fill it out. Where Kevin Smith films have heart amid all the potty jokes and foulness, Apatow only has jokes, and only occasionally good ones. I get the same satisfaction from watching "Whose Line Is It Anyway?"
The characters suck. The married couple in Knocked Up worked there because they were side-show attractions to the main plot. But once your forced to focus almost exclusively on the idiot waste of space and his shrew of a wife, you wish there was something likable to hold onto and enjoy. But there isn't anything or anyone. Not the kids. Not Megan Fox. Not Albert Brooks (though he is a bright spot in the film, because I absolutely love watching him perform.)
Apatow makes a lot of money on his films. Usually, I don't begrudge anyone that, even if I hate their work, but the fact is that Kevin Smith was doing this style before and better and he hasn't had the success that Apatow has had.
Kevin Smith has often said how much he loves Judd Apatow. That's fine. Kevin Smith is a better person than me. But Judd Apatow is a hypocrite (watch the Superbad commentary and you'll see what I mean), someone who doesn't really understand the concept of good characters, and relies too much on more talented people to carry him.
I hope this movie marks the end of his comedic reign. I hope that good comedy comes back. I miss it.
And hey, I'm not against improv. But it has its place and it shouldn't be the entirety of the funny.
This movie was awful. Shot awful. Not funny. I suppose if this is the end of Apatow, then it will have been worth it. Otherwise... *sigh*