Judd Apatow is quite a curious entertainer, and I’m fascinated by the trajectory he’s taken to put his stamp on comedy. Lately, he’s been using his tremendous power to advance women’s voices in comedy through Lena Dunham‘s HBO series “Girls” and Kristen Wiig’s “Bridesmaids,” quite a noble thing to do.
Yet otherwise as a producer, he makes comedies largely by the status quo, albeit with a slightly Apatowian (is that the proper term?) spin of vulgarity opening up on a big heart. Some are hits, and others are flops. Some work; others, absolute disasters.
However, as a director, he’s on the cutting edge. 2009′s “Funny People” and his fourth feature film, “This is 40,” are bold experiments in genre. In these two movies, Apatow is probing the boundaries of comedy and attempting to make sense of the murky gray area that is dramedy.
These two movies are flawed but noble ventures into the great unknown. Both films attempt to find the kind of tender human drama that defines the works of Alexander Payne and Jason Reitman, two directors who make serious works with touches of levity. Apatow strives to find that same pathos without losing his films’ firm rooting in comedy, and though he doesn’t find it in “This is 40,” I’m willing to sit and watch him decipher it out. Because once he finds that balance, a true masterpiece will be the inevitable result.