Top 5 Judd Apatow Comedies

It feels fair to say that 2014 has been a slow year for comedies at the cinema. Nicholas Stoller’s Neighbors was pretty funny. 22 Jump Street, though not quite up to the standard set by the original, was good for some laughs. However, other big-name comedies of 2014, such as Tammy and A Million Ways To Die In The West, fell pretty flat. For the most part, this is just the luck of the draw. Any given year can have good or bad comedies—or film in general. But one interesting note regarding 2014 being a dud for comedic films is that it’s the first year in some time we haven’t seen a major feature from comedy producer extraordinaire Judd Apatow.

So in the absence of any groundbreaking new comedic experiences to talk about thus far in 2014, here’s our look back at our top five Judd Apatow-produced comedies!

5) Bridesmaids

There’s certainly an argument to be made that Bridesmaids is Apatow’s most significant comedy to date. The reason for this is that it more or less follows the format of a standard buddy comedy, but it used female leads instead of the same old club of go-to Hollywood funnymen. A review at Movie Nation even went so far as to describe it as “Her Hangover,” and “a frat boy’s idea of what a funny ‘chick flick’ should be.”

Truth be told, the originality of Bridesmaids was probably somewhat overplayed. Hats off to Apatow for doing his thing with all female leads, but the reaction to this film in 2011 almost seemed to discount previous female-led comedies such as 2005’s Mean Girls, 2008’s Baby Mama, and even 2006’s Juno. Still, Bridesmaids is a pretty funny ride, offering up the performance of Kristen Wiig’s career and launching Melissa McCarthy’s (which may have been a bad thing).

4) The 40-Year-Old Virgin

It wasn’t the first we’d seen of Steve Carell, but there’s no denying that The 40-Year Old Virgin marked his true emergence in the cinema (after he gained enormous fame as Michael Scott on TV’s The Office). In a brief look back at it on Picturebox Films, reviewer James King offers up five great things about The 40-Year-Old Virgin, one of which is that “Carell stars as quiet man Andy and he also co-wrote the script.” This gets right at the simple but enormous achievement of Apatow: he essentially unleashed Carell in this film. No one has been more consistently amusing in dry, quiet, or simple comedy roles, and Carell’s talent as a writer is an unsung gem of this film. Additionally, it’s hard to find a more well-rounded supporting cast in a comedy.

3) Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express is simply one of the most original and unique comedies of this millennium so far. Using arguably his favorite actor in Seth Rogen and bringing in James Franco (at the time a relative newcomer to film comedies, despite time on the Apatow-helmed TV show Freaks And Geeks), Apatow managed to redefine both stoner and action comedies. The balance between laid-back, hazy chuckles (the film pretty much revolves around a bustling marijuana trade) and high-octane action absurdity is actually remarkable. It’s also impossible to decide which aspect of the film is funnier. Apatow struck comedy gold with the pairing of Rogen and Franco, and simultaneously introduced Danny McBride to the modern comedy circuit. Furthermore, it’s tough to imagine the 2013 hit comedy This Is The End—MSN Movies’ Glen Kenny described it as “bringing bromance back to the fore”—happening without the groundwork laid by Pi
neapple Express.

2) Anchorman

If there’s one comedy from the 21st century that needs to introduction or explanation, it’s Anchorman. In some ways Apatow’s crowning achievement, this ridiculous film about 1970s anchorman Ron Burgundy launched Will Ferrell from comedy superstar to comedy god. Most films this absurd end up getting lost in their own improvisations and pure goofiness, but somehow producer Apatow and co-writers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay kept it hilarious throughout. It was, as Ron says, “kind of a big deal.”

1) Superbad

To some, leaving Anchorman off the top line might be blasphemous, but the fact is it’s hard to find a less likely success or a funnier film that Apatow stamped his name on. Co-written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg when Rogen was only 13 years old, Superbad could easily have been lost in a drawer somewhere and never recovered. But Judd Apatow, who befriended Rogen through the Freaks And Geeks experience, got his hands on it. The result is one of most monumental comedies in recent memory.

Before Superbad, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (better known as McLovin) were relative nobodies. They are now Hollywood stars. In Superbad, they created one of the greatest teen comedies of all time. Revolving around the simplest but most important teenage quest—bringing alcohol to a party to impress girls—it strikes a surprisingly realistic chord and keeps viewers in stitches at the same time.

Author

Rob Dawson

Rob Dawson is a film enthusiast and aspiring journalist. He has contributed critical commentary on a wide range of films and written fiction for various websites and blogs.