Cancer isn’t funny. It may, in fact, be the least funny topic one can broach. Yet somehow, behind-the-scenes guy and screenwriter Will Reiser has found a way to tell a story about cancer that produces more than a few laughs. It certainly helps that the story is Reiser’s own (with a few changes); the writer was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at 24. Though we’re quick to outrage when someone mocks the sick or oppressed, we’re happy to join in when the sick and oppressed mock themselves. And nobody can deny that laughter is an ice pick for fear. Any way you look at it, Reiser and Director Jonathan Levine have broken a barrier once thought unbreakable and created 50/50, perhaps the world’s first successful cancer joke.
Tag Archives: Seth Rogen
If you need any proof that Seth Rogen and writing partner Evan Goldberg are BFF, just watch one of their movies. Thus far their three major titles-Superbad, Pineapple Express and now The Green Hornet–are all built up from a premise along the lines of, “so there are these two guys…” This is a charming conceit at first. Certainly in the case of those first two films the bromance was both the glue of the story and the vehicle for developing its two main characters. Meanwhile, it can actually be really sweet watching two regular dudes realize they have real love for another person. This formula had to lose its edge at some point though, and it seems to have happened smack dab in the middle of The Green Hornet.
The simplest way of putting it is to say that Knocked Up is Judd Apatow‘s best film. I hesitate to say “best work” as there are so many Freaks and Geeks loyalists out there, including yours truly, but the completeness of Apatow’s second film rivals his prematurely ended and wonderfully nostalgic TV show, and I’m not sure it’s a stretch to say it may be the best thing he ever does. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Funny People, and I’ll certainly pay eight bucks to see whatever comes next, but following the uncontrolled kookiness of The 40 Year Old Virgin and coming before the pure self-indulgence of his Sandler/mid-life depression/look at my wife vehicle, Knocked Up seems to be a moment of near perfection on the unpredictable trajectory of Judd Apatow’s career.
Judd Apatow‘s IMDb profile is weighted surprisingly towards films he’s produced. As of today, he has 38 completed productions with another 10 in development, compared to 8 directorial features and TV shows (including one episode of The Larry Sanders Show). Even his writing credits number in the mid-20s. It’s this space between projects that forces the movies he has directed under a magnifying glass. If he felt like it was good enough to direct and not just throw some money behind then I’m especially curious to see what the fuss is about. On top of that (and this is a point I’ve made before), Apatow’s directed projects have an element of realism lacking in his productions. Whether it’s taste, or effort, or simply coincidence, the films he’s directed work on a loftier plane. In the case of The 40 Year Old Virgin this line, so evident when comparing, for example, Walk Hard to Funny People, seems to bleed a little bit, finding it’s reality through a thick pane of glass fogged by touches of absurdity and breeches of aggression.
It seems like comedy has more to do with putting yourself out there completely than anything else. If it’s not funny then it’s not funny, likewise for being overly offensive or dated, but if the comedy is non-committal than everything else will fall short anyway. With his latest direction, Funny People, Judd Apatow exercises this notion possibly to a fault. The director throws everything he’s got into his third feature film, an exercise made more strenuous by the looming uncertainty of what this film is…Comedy? Drama? Both? Neither? B-Movie Sex Horror? No…no, it’s not that.
Ahhh, the pot movie. The stoner flick. Such a well-traversed and easily discounted genre. The luxury of these features is that the expectations are never very high. Even for comedy, the writers/producers/directors of a movie about weed are generally held to a pretty light standard. There’s a built in audience and that audience isn’t always the most discerning. Nonetheless, Pineapple Express strives to be among those few standouts of the genre. Up in Smoke, Dazed and Confused, Friday, Harold and Kumar, and Pineapple Express? Sure, why not.