Thursday, June 23, 2011

Of Apatow and Wilder

I recently saw again Judd Apatow's "Funny People"...two movies in one: the first half is darker, the humor subtler, sharper; the other half is sweet, simple, predictable. Unfortunately, I went expecting and wanting to see one movie, not a double bill.

I'm discovering that a central artictic dilemma occurs in all Judd Apatow's movies: he can't decide in any one film whether God or the Devil controls his soul; or in other terms, whether his art or his commerce rules his artistic visions. So he chooses not to decide; to give you both...unblended. (The great film genius, Billy Wilder, knew how to create a smooth admixture of both, sweet and sour. But that's why he is considered a genius.)

The first part of "Funny People" is the stand-up comic charcter war time; ironic, mean and funny at the same time, a competitive world of funny guys--where bawdy humor standing in for fists, and intermural fights draw blood with a thousand pin-pricks of personal truth.

The other part of "Funny People" is a sweet domestic comedy: "Will the boy get the girl?" The dramatic thrust is: after a twelve year absence, will the beautiful girl stay with her more boring husband and clever two daughters, or will she return to the comedian-leading man? Is bachelor an addction or a choice? Can good sex conquer family, duty, and responsibility?

Tune in, soap fans. Judd Apatow is a wonderful filmmaker. He's just not a genius...yet.


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