Thursday, August 7, 2008

Pineapple Express: Off the rails

Posted By on Thu, Aug 7, 2008 at 12:00 PM

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I'm as guilty as the next guy. Last summer critics crowned filmmaker Judd Apatow the king of big-screen comedy following his hilarious hits Knocked Up, which he wrote and directed, and Superbad, which he co-wrote and produced. I wondered whether Apatow would follow in the footsteps of the beloved Hal Ashby as a crafter of wise but raucous humanist comedies.

One year later, the sight of Apatow Productions in film credits seems more like a warning sign than a seal of approval. The rival siblings of July 25's Step Brothers and the fugitive stoners of this Wednesday's Pineapple Express amount to a strikingly ineffectual one-two punch. Clearly last year's Apatow adulation set a standard that cannot or will not be met by every movie with his name on it. Apatow Productions doesn't guarantee smart laughs in the same way that, say, Pixar does.

Apatow's core movies comprise the clearly personal films he wrote and directed, The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, plus, presumably, next year's Funny People with Adam Sandler. Then comes an inner circle of films he co-wrote or that otherwise involve protégés from the TV show "Freaks and Geeks," such as Superbad and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. His influence seems far more tangential on Will Ferrell's comedies Anchorman and Talladega Nights, the success of which helped secure green lights for Apatow's smaller-scale films.

Read the rest of this article here.

(Image by Dale Robinette)

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