Zombie Politics

I drank your milkshake.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Boy, Girl, or Horribly Overlong, Mediocre Romantic Comedy? (Spoiler alert: It’s the latter.)

Movie Review – Knocked Up

One thing I know is that Judd Apatow makes lots of people lots of money. I imagine one of those people is himself. I don’t know this for sure, because I have never spoken to him, nor do I have his phone number (so I can’t call him and ask). But according to IMDB (we’ll forget about how shockingly unreliable much of its information is for argument’s sake) has six movies, under various states of creative control, in production. That’s a lot of movies. He’s like a one man Steven Soderbergh. Oh wait.

I will admit, too, that he is a very talented man. He was responsible, at least partially, for bringing us Adam McKay’s Anchorman and Talladega Nights, both of which pushed absolutely bizarre, almost surreal comedy on an unsuspecting world in the guise of a Will Farrell comedy. (They are, in fact, much weirder and less benign.) But as a writer-director, I’m not so sure about this Judd Apatow guy, mainly because he’s kind of a lousy writer-director.

Take Knocked Up, his new movie as a writer-director that opens this very day in the year 2000 ought 7. It is a cute romantic-ish comedy with a lot of great performances and some nice things to say about how we treat each other (hence the ‘cuteness’). Still, as a movie, it falls short. First of all, it’s two hours and nine minutes. Somebody needs to listen to Woody Allen and John Waters when they talk about how comedies should be 90 minutes long, because it’s the god’s honest truth. This thing feels like it was nine months long, like it was filmed in real time, 24-style. Also, every possible subplot is explored, unnecessarily. I’m all for characterization, deepening the relationships, but we’re not talking about Zodiac here, there is no decades-long chase for an elusive serial killer. It’s a bawdy romantic comedy called Knocked Up. Porky’s didn’t pull that shit. Neither should this. Much of the movie exists as an incredibly long deleted scene (and this is with three editors under his belt).

Also, it’s completely lacking in style. The cinematography, once more, is atrocious (look at The 40 Year Old Virgin for a great example of German expressionist-style harsh shadows even though it’s set in an electronics store and was shot by Eastwood’s DP – what the fuck?) – the back alley behind a club at midnight looks exactly like the inside of a house during the day. It’s all over-lit and flat. And on the argument that comedies can’t have style, look no further than Edgar Wright’s movies – those are gorgeous.

Apatow has the same basic directing style as Kevin Smith, where he just kind of photographs people talking. Which is all well as good, if it weren’t so fucking boring (I'd argue that Smith is a better, or at least more truthful, writer, but both fall back on their 'endless pop culture references' laurels too often). Just because you come from a television background, like Apatow, doesn’t mean your movie has to look like an episode of King of Queens. (Look no further than J.J. Abrams and Mission: Impossible III.)

The critical response seems to tell me that I’m an asshole (that’d be Rotten Tomatoes score of 91%, with the more discerning Metacritic clocking it at 88% - compared to Hot Fuzz’s 89 and 81%), with closet gay bobble head doll A.O. Scott calling it an “instant classic” (earlier this year he said he wouldn’t “sit through” Planet Terror to get to Death Proof, the asshole). This is no instant classic. Although Judd Apatow sure would like you to think so. He’s got a machine to feed, afterall.


Blogger Radio Free Burke said...

Well, you have officially jumped the shark and proven that you have no ability to enjoy anything. This is the funniest American comedy since Wet Hot American Summer. Get over yourself. Anchorman blows, by the way.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Jordan, and ya don't stop said...

how can max say that anchorman blows? max and drew will have to have a competition to figure out who has the most illogically strange way of enjoying/hating things

12:31 PM  

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