To celebrate the release of Trainwreck in the U.K. this week, I’m ranking my Top 10 films of one of my favourite directors, Judd Apatow. I’m counting all the films that he has a credit on, so any film that he wrote, directed or produced. I’m hoping to see Trainwreck some time next week and I hope that I would be able to put it into my Top 10. Honourable Mentions are: This is 40, Funny People, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Kicking and Screaming and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Let’s go:
10. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby: It’s a film that’s a bit mismatched but it’s undoubtedly strong in places. Will Ferrell is fine in the lead, but John C. Reilly is different class, showing his terrific acting range in a broadly comedic roles. The ‘Help Me Tom Cruise’ line is classic, but the laughs are too and far between. It’s a 3 star film, O.K., but not great.
9. Step Brothers: Tonally all over the place, but one of Apatow’s funniest films, Step Brothers has become one of Apatow’s most loved films. It’s an all right overall, but you’re mainly there to laugh and you certainly get that, with Adam Scott adding fine support to Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly having fun, like they did in Talladega Nights.
8. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues: A little disappointing but high on laughs, Anchorman 2 is nowhere as good as the first Anchorman (we’re coming to that) but it’s still pretty O.K., with very funny cameos, and a strong screenplay. Steve Carell definitely steals the show as we get more Brick than ever before.
7. Wake Up, Ron Burgundy: While not released in cinemas, the lost movie of Anchorman is a terrifically funny film, with a great showcase for the main cast members’ incredible comedic talents. It’s a decently crafted film for something that was made completely from deleted scenes, with nice cameos from future stars like Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph.
6. Knocked Up: A more dramatic film that we’re used to seeing with Apatow also sees him bring his best screenplay to the table, as it may just be his most consistent film yet. It’s low on surreal moments and laugh-out-loud moments, but it has an abundance of Apatow’s trademark charm, with Seth Rogen breaking through to become the A-Lister that he is today, mainly due to his terrific chemistry with Paul Rudd, who provides fine support.
5. Bridesmaids: The film that put mainstream female gross out comedy on the map, Bridesmaids is probably Apatow’s most successful film, earning him his only Golden Globe nomination as a producer. Kristen Wiig is terrific and, while it does provide an abundance of laughs, it does provide many memorable comedic set-pieces that creates an impressive whole overall. Melissa McCarthy steals the show in her Oscar-nominated role, becoming the only person to date to be nominated for an acting Oscar in an Apatow film.
4. Superbad: An incredibly inconsistent film but one of the most iconic, Superbad was a true breakthrough for it’s stars, particularly for Jonah Hill, who has gone onto claim two Oscar nominations, as it gives them a real chance to shine through it’s hilarious and likable script. The second half is poor, but the first half is undeniably one of Apatow’s best moments, portraying a realistic teenage friendship with all the heart and hilarity required. Christopher Mintz-Plasse is especially good, considering that it was his first ever role, as the infamously nerdy McLovin.
3. Begin Again: A long stretch from his raunchy comedic films, Begin Again is possibly Apatow’s most charming and it’s really nice to see him explore new genres, even if it was only as a producer. It has a terrific soundtrack, including the Oscar-nominated ‘Lost Stars’, and a big heart. Mark Ruffalo is great and Keira Knightley gives, in my opinion, the performance of her career as she finally plays a realistic person, and as she takes full advantage of her terrific singing voice.
2. The 40-Year-Old Virgin: The film that made Steve Carell into a star, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, in the hands of a less accomplished director, would have just been a raunchy sex comedy. Instead, with Apatow at the helm, it’s wonderfully bittersweet, with fine performances from the cast, particularly from Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, providing laughs throughout. An incredibly likable film that has stood the test of time, and will continue to do so, as it blends crude humour with genuine heart, creating a very satisfying whole.
1. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy: Possibly my favourite comedy of all time, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is almost perfect 90 minutes of comedy, using all the types of humour that has proven successful in Apatow’s work: satire, surrealism and over the top acting, all of which is controlled by director Adam McKay and the input of Apatow as producer. It was also a breakout for it’s cast, with Will Ferrell, Steve Carell and Paul Rudd all becoming A-listers soon after release, and it is also has great cameos from the actors that they have replaced as the kings of American comedy in cinema, including Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson and Jack Black. There is no comedy that is as much fun as Anchorman, a brilliantly crafted, funny and endlessly quotable film.