Judd Apatow has worked a lot. He’s been a writer, producer, and director. Undoubtedly his genre of choice is comedy. He’s made us laugh, and perhaps even allowed us to cry. But I’m here today to highlight why actually his movies are no good.
One, he plagiarizes from real life, and it is uncomfortable to watch. Two, the women in his films exhibit feelings that are a problem for the male characters, often freaking out at how chill the men are. Three, too real to be funny.
I know what you are thinking. Who is this bastard who thinks he knows better than one of Hollywood’s best funnymen? Well, I loved Apatow’s work when it came out, but as I got older the jokes stopped landing, and I don’t think I’m the only one.
What is the cause of this you say? I think it has to do with the fact that Apatow writes about real life problems, and when I transitioned into a certain period of my life those things became too real.
For my purposes today, I’m going to talk about the movies that Apatow has written, produced, and directed because those are the ones that best reflect his personal style.
On the other hand, we have Wes Anderson. His directorial style is very distinct and you can tell if it’s one of his movies from a mile away.
His stories are funny, odd, and whimsical. On top of that the characters are all created amazingly. The casting is perfect in most circumstances and his films are generally really enjoyable to watch.
While his films are categorized as comedies, they could equally be said to be fantasy because he creates entire worlds that the viewer can dive into.
I’m not going to lie, I’m a big Wes Anderson fan. But even I will admit he misses the mark sometimes.
He has written, directed, and produced more films that Judd Apatow, but that shouldn’t be taken as a sign that he is plainly better. In my opinion his films are just ‘good’, weird though they sometimes are.
So let’s compare these two powerhouse directors and their works, maybe we’ll learn something.
The first film I’m going to talk about is…
The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
Okay, so I know I just finished talking shit about Judd Apatow’s work in the section above, but there really isn’t much to be critical of in regards to this movie. It has become a classic, and for good reason.
Most of the funny dialogue and jokes were improvised, which could have been a recipe for disaster but the cast was studded with many, many hilarious people.
Andy is a 40-year-old virgin (duh), and he works in an electronics store. One night he is playing poker with his co-workers and it comes out that he is a virgin. They resolve to help him lose his virginity, even though he’s not sure that’s what he wants.
Eventually, Andy gets a girlfriend, Trish. Things are going great until sex gets put on the table. He avoids the issue by promising her they won’t have sex until they have had 20 dates.
Anyway, after their 20th date Trish wants to have sex with Andy but he is too nervous. She gets mad and Andy leaves.
She goes to his apartment where she finds various suspicious objects and thinks Andy is some sort of a sexual deviant.
After getting into an accident on his bike while trying to chase down Trish he comes clean and tells her he is a virgin.
The films closes out with them getting married and finally having sex.
The cast is made up of Judd Apatow’s regulars and friends. Here they are in no particular order
- Steve Carell as Andy Stitzer
- Catherine Keener as Trish Piedmont
- Paul Rudd as David
- Romany Malco as Jay
- Seth Rogen as Cal
- Jane Lynch as Paula
- Kat Dennings as Marla Piedmont
- Erica Vittina Phillips as Jill
- Elizabeth Banks as Beth
- Leslie Mann as Nicky
- Gerry Bednob as Mooj
- Jordan Masterson as Mark
- Shelley Malil as Haziz
- Jonah Hill as eBay Customer
- Kevin Hart as Smart Tech Customer
- Marisa Guterman as Girl with Braces
- Marika Dominczyk as Bernadette
- Mindy Kaling as Amy
- Mo Collins as Gina
- Kimberly Page as Carol
- Stormy Daniels as Herself
- Nancy Carell as Health Clinic Counselor
A lot of the people who played bit parts in this movie went on to do much greater things. Such as Jonah Hill and Mindy Kaling.
Box Office Response
This movie premiered at number 1 on opening weekend at the box office. In total it made roughly 177 million worldwide, which is pretty good for a romantic comedy. The film was 25th in global gross the year it came out.
This movie was all around good. The lead character, played by Carell, is a sweet guy who deserves love. And the guys he works with are great at one liners. Seth Rogen in particular slays me, so his inclusion in this film was a bonus.
I just wish I hadn’t watched this movie with my parents when I was 15, I could have done without that. But anyway, this movie is good.
Knocked up (2007)
I used to think this movie was funny, now I do not. It boils down to Judd Apatow’s take on what it’s like to get stuck in a situation you’d rather be without, and how this can affect your chill.
When I first saw this movie, a lot of the things I liked about The 40-Year-Old Virgin were there so I readily accepted it. But as time went on I somewhat got tired of the gags the cast were throwing out.
I get it, it’s dope to be a guy of a certain age with no responsibilities, and women can ruin that if you are not careful.
The main character of the film is about 24 years old, and this is important to me because I have a friend who, when he was about 24, got into the same situation, and boy was it ever not funny.
Ben and Alison have a one night stand and low and behold they end up pregnant. Unfortunately for Alison, Ben is a slacker and has almost no responsibilities, or job. They struggle to make it work and eventually one day Alison throws Ben out of the car on the way to the doctor’s office.
Ben doesn’t handle this well, as he walks all the way to the appointment, flips off Alison, and leaves her.
The pregnancy progresses and Alison finds herself alone and without a doctor on the night she goes into labour. She calls Ben and he comes to help her (after privately getting his shit together). They end up having the baby and everything is fine, and we as a viewer are led to believe they live happily ever after together.
- Seth Rogen as Ben Stone
- Katherine Heigl as Alison Scott
- Paul Rudd as Pete
- Leslie Mann as Debbie
- Jason Segel as Jason
- Jay Baruchel as Jay
- Jonah Hill as Jonah
- Martin Starr as Martin
- Charlyne Yi as Jodi
- Iris Apatow as Charlotte
- Maude Apatow as Sadie
- Harold Ramis as Harris Stone
- Joanna Kerns as Mrs. Scott
- Alan Tudyk as Jack
- Kristen Wiig as Jill
- Bill Hader as Brent
- Ken Jeong as Dr. Kuni
- J. P. Manoux as Dr. Angelo
- Tim Bagley as Dr. Pellagrino
- B. J. Novak as Doctor
- Mo Collins as Doctor
- Loudon Wainwright as Dr. Howard
- Adam Scott as Nurse
- Craig Robinson as Club Doorman
- Tami Sagher as Wardrobe Lady
- Stormy Daniels as Lap Dancer
Notice anything? With the exception of a few, this is almost the same list of people from The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Isn’t that weird!
Box Office Response
The film opened at number 2 at the US box office. In total it made 220 million dollars world wide.
Even though this film is stocked with a cast of really funny people, I cannot get around the fact that the premise is not funny.
Just ask anyone who got accidentally pregnant if they thought it was funny and see what happens.
This film falls under the category of too scary to be funny. I know I’m being really serious and what not, after all it’s just a movie. But the jokes from this film have died for me forever.
I mostly don’t want this to happen to my life so maybe my opinion is just fear based. Anyway moving on…
Funny People (2009)
I did not think funny people was funny. Despite the title, the only funny person in this movie is Seth Rogen. The main character, played by Adam Sandler, is a sad unlikeable person who is very selfish and emotionally reactive.
There are a number of things I didn’t like about this movie, and mostly it boils down to a very detestable main character. I just didn’t want anything to do with the guy, and it made watching the entirety of the film difficult. But I did watch all of it.
George is a rich and famous comedian who started out in standup and made his way to movies. He is depressed most of time and is really unhappy, when he is diagnosed with cancer.
He goes to a comedy club where he meets Ira, who is a nervous young comedian trying his best to get better at his trade. Eventually, George hires Ira as his personal assistant and joke writer.
When George’s cancer goes into remission, he wants to reconnect with Laura (his ex-fiancee). George and Ira drive out to meet her and her two daughters when Laura’s husband, Clarke, is away on business.
George desperately wants Laura back, but he cheated on her many times in the past, and now Clarke is in the way. Ira doesn’t agree with George’s choice, and George fires him.
Anyway, George and Laura do not end up together, and Ira is back at his food service job when the film closes off.
However, George does come to visit Ira and the two talk together about jokes in Ira’s new routine.
- Adam Sandler as George Simmons
- Seth Rogen as Ira Wright
- Leslie Mann as Laura
- Eric Bana as Clarke
- Jason Schwartzman as Mark Taylor Jackson
- Jonah Hill as Leo Koenig
- Aubrey Plaza as Daisy Danby
- Maude Apatow as Mable
- Iris Apatow as Ingrid
- Aziz Ansari as Randy Springs
- Torsten Voges as Dr. Lars
- Allan Wasserman as Dr. Stevens
- Kyle Kinane as Paparazzi at Medical Center
- Steve Bannos as Deli Manager
- Maggie Siff as Rachel
- RZA as Chuck
The film is chalked full of great comedians, but the focus on Adam Sandler’s character was a real buzz kill. The other characters are in awe of him, and he mostly acts like a jerk. Additionally, I’m getting tired of seeing Judd Apatow’s family in his movies. Let them live their own lives!
Box Office Response
Funny people did not do so hot at the box office. It cost 75 million dollars to make and only brought in 71 million dollars worldwide. When you compare it to Knocked Up, which made 219 million dollars, it really flubbed.
Things that are not funny but were in this movie.
- Splitting up a family
- a giant ego
- an inconclusive ending
By the end I just wanted this movie to be over. I wanted good things for Ira (Seth Rogen) and I kind of wanted George (Adam Sandler) to learn a lesson or something. But we weren’t given that as an audience. The movie sort of just ends, but I was glad when it did.
This Is 40 (2012)
I will straight up come out and say it. I hated this movie so much I had to turn it off. And it starred one my favourite actors no less. The movie is uncomfortable to watch. We as an audience are dragged through the worst parts of a marriage on the rocks, and it sucks.
Because I didn’t watch the entirety of this movie I will as a result have less to say about it. But take note that I rarely turn movies off.
Ugh, I don’t even want to go into it so I’ll summarize as fast as I can. Pete and Debbie are having problems in their marriage. Additionally, Pete keeps lending his father money and Debbie’s father is not in her life that much.
Things spiral out of control at Pete’s birthday party where he finds out Debbie is pregnant again.
Anyway, the movie closes out with Pete and Debbie happy at a concert, where Debbie say’s Pete should sign the performer to his record label.
- Paul Rudd as Pete, Debbie’s husband and a record label owner
- Leslie Mann as Debbie, Pete’s wife and a shop owner
- Maude Apatow as Sadie, their 13-year-old daughter
- Iris Apatow as Charlotte, their 8-year-old daughter
- Jason Segel as Jason, Debbie’s trainer
- Charlyne Yi as Jodi, one of Debbie’s employees
- Tim Bagley as Dr. Pellegrino, Debbie’s gynecologist
- John Lithgow as Oliver, Debbie’s father
- Albert Brooks as Larry, Pete’s father
- Megan Fox as Desi, one of Debbie’s employees
- Chris O’Dowd as Ronnie, one of Pete’s employees
- Melissa McCarthy as Catherine
- Ryan Lee as Joseph
- Lena Dunham as Cat, one of Pete’s employees
- Robert Smigel as Barry, Pete’s friend
- Annie Mumolo as Barb, Debbie’s friend
- Joanne Baron as Mrs. Laviati
- Ava Sambora as Wendy, Sadie’s best friend
- Michael Ian Black as Bank Consultant
- Bill Hader as Desi’s hook up customer (un-credited)
- Billie Joe Armstrong as himself
This movie is bad, but John Lithgow is good.
Box Office Response
This film was only slightly more profitable than Funny People, making roughly 88 million dollars worldwide. It marked the lowest opening weekend by any Judd Apatow film at 11 million dollars.
I just couldn’t handle this movie. It was so bad. I really enjoy Paul Rudd but I just couldn’t get on board with this film. I won’t bother going into too much detail, I’ll just say this movie=no good. Two thumbs down.
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A Quick note
Because Wes Anderson has made more movies that Judd Apatow, I think it is only fair that I 1) pick his latest movies and 2) pick only the movies that I made attempts to watch. So without further adieu let us continue on this mission to prove who makes better movies.
The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
Okay, I know I addressed the fact that I really like Wes Anderson movies, but this one I did less so. So much less so, that I actually turned it off. It was nowhere near as bad as This Is 40 but in my opinion it’s just not Wes Anderson’s best work.
I found myself unusually tense for watching one of his movies, and the certain whimsical style he usually attaches to his films was definitely lacking in The Darjeeling Limited.
Anyway, I digress….
Three brothers (Francis, Jack, and Peter) meet up in India on a train called the Darjeeling Limited. The last time the three brothers were together was at their father’s funeral one year earlier.
When on the train a familiar dynamic sets in with them as Francis takes their passports to ensure they do not get off the train without him. The brothers essentially bicker back and forth until they are exhausted with each other.
That is until Francis comes clean and tells them they are on the way to see their mother, who has been absent from their lives for a long time. The other two are annoyed, since they never would have came had they known, and a fight breaks out between all three of them.
As a result, the head train attendant, who they have annoyed throughout their journey, throws them off the train.
*This is where I stopped watching.
The film certainly goes on, and supposedly the guys leave their baggage (both emotional and literal) on a train platform in India in the end.
They do end up finding their mother but they don’t stick around very long to spend time with her. And eventually, Francis admits he’s fresh off of a suicide attempt.
- Owen Wilson as Francis
- Adrien Brody as Peter
- Jason Schwartzman as Jack
- Amara Karan as Rita
- Wallace Wolodarsky as Brendan
- Waris Ahluwalia as The Chief Steward
- Irrfan Khan as The Father
- Barbet Schroeder as The Mechanic
- Camilla Rutherford as Alice
- Bill Murray as The Businessman
- Anjelica Huston as Patricia
- A.P. Singh as Taxi Driver
- Kumar Pallana as Old Man
- Dalpat Singh as Waiter
- Trudy Matthys as German Lady #1
- Gurdeep Singh as Chief Steward – Bengal Lancer
- Natalie Portman as Jack’s Ex-Girlfriend
Judd Apatow and Wes Anderson are similar in that they almost always cast the same people in their movies. The Wes Anderson club, so to speak, is pretty large at the moment, but includes some amazing actors.
Box Office Response
The film was nominated and won a bunch of awards, none of them Academy Awards, but still it won Best Comedy (Movies for Grownups Awards), Best Screenplay (NYFCO), and a Little Golden Lion.
However it did not make very much money, but it was more of an art film so that might be expected. In the end the film made 35 million dollars on a budget of 17 million. *Side note: Still better than Funny People, This Is 40.
The reason I stopped watching this movie was I got tired of the three brothers bickering. I bet their characters all learned something and evolved somehow, as that is a staple in the Wes Anderson movie formula, but I just didn’t have the patience to sit around and wait for that to happen.
We as viewers were stuck with these three brothers for the entire movie, and they weren’t very likeable. Annoying more accurately describes them.
That might have been part of the gag but it just didn’t land with me.
Fantastic Mr.Fox (2009)
I REALLY like this one, so I’m going to try and calm myself so I can put my thoughts down in an orderly fashion.
I don’t usually go in for animated movies, but Wes Anderson’s are an exception. Mostly because all of the voices are amazing actors and it’s fun to guess who is who as you watch.
Not only does this movie have that going for it, but it’s funny, sweet, and quirky.
Let’s dive right in…
While raiding a farm, Mr.Fox and his wife Felicity become trapped. She makes him promise to find a new job because they have a baby on the way.
Years pass and Mr.Fox and his family move into a tree where they live happily. One day Felicity’s nephew, Kristofferson, has to come live with them because of his father being ill.
Ash, Mr.Fox’s and Felicity’s son, immediately does not like this and makes things difficult for Kristofferson, who has essentially bettered him at everything he enjoys and even wooed Agnes, who he likes.
Eventually, Mr. Fox goes back to his thieving ways, and things could not be more great for the Fox family.
That is until one day the farmers decide to kill the fox’s.
The farmers destroy the Fox home and the family must hide underground.
Anyway, they begin this cat and mouse game where the Fox’s keep getting away and the farmers keep upping the ante by using more and more extreme means.
Until Kristofferson is kidnapped by the farmers who intend to use him as bait to catch the remaining Fox’s. Mr.Fox decides that in order to save Kristofferson he has to give himself up.
At the exchange the animals turn the tables on the farmers by releasing a rabid beagle on them. Ash and Kristofferson settle their differences and become friends.
And the film closes off with news that Felicity is pregnant again!
- George Clooney as Mr. Fox
- Meryl Streep as Felicity Fox
- Jason Schwartzman as Ash Fox
- Bill Murray as Clive Badger
- Willem Dafoe as Rat
- Michael Gambon as Franklin Bean
- Owen Wilson as Coach Skip
- Wallace Wolodarsky as Kylie
- Eric Anderson as Kristofferson Silverfox
- Jarvis Cocker as Petey
- Wes Anderson as Stan Weasel
- Robin Hurlstone as Walter Boggis
- Hugo Guinness as Nathan Bunce
- Helen McCrory as Mrs. Bean
- Juman Malouf as Agnes
- Karen Duffy as Linda Otter
- Roman Coppola as Squirrel Contractor
- Garth Jennings as Bean’s son
- Brian Cox as Daniel Peabody
- Steven Rales as Beaver
- Jeremy Dawson as Beaver’s Son
- James Hamilton as Phil Mole
- Jennifer Furches as Dr. Badger
- Mario Batali as Rabbit
- Allison Abbate as Rabbit’s ex-girlfriend
- Molly Cooper as Rabbit Girl
- Adrien Brody as Mouse
- Martin Ballard as Fire chief
Box Office Response
Fantastic Mr.Fox made roughly 47 million dollars worldwide. Additionally, the film has a 92 percent rating on rotten tomatoes.
When I mentioned earlier that Wes Anderson’s movies are more like fantasy, this is what I was talking about. A movie that you can just dive into with your imagination and get lost.
All the good things about this movie
- The music
- The cast
- The art/animation
- the whole god damn thing
The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
I am extremely fond of this film. I think it might be the best Wes Anderson movie ever. The cast, the dialogue, the set, and the story were all perfect.
I could watch this movie any day of the week, in fact when I’m done writing this I will probably go and watch it. It offers so much, you can discover something new on every re-watch.
The detail in this story is half the fun, the characters and the world Wes Anderson created are the other half.
It begins with one of my favourite writers tricks/gags and that is a story within a story, and then someone telling a story in that story. It goes deep.
I’m going to summarize the plot of this film very quickly and succinctly because a lot happens and it’s quite dense.
Generally speaking it is the story of the relationship between a concierge (Monsieur Gustave H.) and his lobby boy (Zero). Their story is set in a fictional European country called Zubrowka in the 1930’s.
Because everything is fictional but uses real life as a mirror, there are fake Nazis who compound the characters problems.
Essentially, the story kicks off when Gustave is framed for Murder. Zero must prove his innocence and in the process gets himself in quite the situation.
Anyway, the two characters bond but still have to maintain the power imbalance that exists between employer and employee.
Zero finds love, Gustav escapes from prison, and they dodge death together.
It is so good.
- Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave
- F. Murray Abraham as Mr. Moustafa
- Tony Revolori as Zero Moustafa
- Mathieu Amalric as Serge X.
- Adrien Brody as Dmitri
- Willem Dafoe as Jopling
- Jeff Goldblum as Deputy Kovacs
- Harvey Keitel as Ludwig
- Jude Law as Young Writer
- Bill Murray as M. Ivan
- Edward Norton as Henckels
- Milton Welsh as Franz Müller
- Saoirse Ronan as Agatha
- Wolfram Nielacny as Herr Becker
- Jason Schwartzman as M. Jean
- Léa Seydoux as Clotilde
- Tilda Swinton as Madame D.
- Tom Wilkinson as Author
- Owen Wilson as M. Chuck
- Larry Pine as Mr. Mosher
- Giselda Volodi [it] as Serge’s sister
- Florian Lukas as Pinky
- Karl Markovics as Wolf
- Volker Michalowski [de] as Günther
- Neal Huff as Lieutenant
- Bob Balaban as M. Martin
- Fisher Stevens as M. Robin
- Wallace Wolodarsky as M. Georges
- Waris Ahluwalia as M. Dino
- Lucas Hedges as Pump Attendant
The regular cast is all there for a Wes Anderson movie. But Ralph Fiennes really shines as Gustave.
Box Office Response
I know I think The Grand Budapest Hotel is Wes Anderson’s best movie, but perhaps the rest of the world agrees. The film grossed roughly 175 million dollars worldwide, which is the highest of any Wes Anderson movie.
Additionally, the movie has won awards for best set, costumes, cast, and screenplay.
I’m only going to say that I must have seen thousands of movies in my life time, and this one is definitely in my top 3.
10/10 would recommend, two thumbs up.
Isle of Dogs (2018)
I’ll come out and say that I did not like this movie as much as The Grand Budapest Hotel or The Fantastic Mr.Fox, but I still liked it a great deal.
All the things that I enjoy about a Wes Anderson film were there. Good voice actors, great animation/art, and a fictional world loosely based on reality.
Good stuff and an entertaining watch.
The movie did catch some flack for being slightly racist in it’s depiction of Japanese people, to which I have to agree. But it wasn’t so bad as to ruin the movie for me.
All the dogs of Megasaki are sent to trash island because it is feared they carry canine influenza. The authoritarian mayor thinks it will spread to humans and everyone in Megasaki is forced to give up their dogs.
Fast forward a bit. A boy in a plane crash lands on trash island and the dogs come and investigate. It turns out the boy is looking for his dog, his protector.
Some of the dogs decide to take him back to where he belongs but it isn’t so easily done. There are cannibal dogs who roam freely on trash island so it is a dangerous place for all.
Additionally, there are dog killing robots that have been sent to retrieve the boy.
The boy ends up forming a bond with a stray who turns out to be the brother of the dog that he’s looking for.
Eventually the mayor loses power and dogs are allowed back into society.
In the end, the boy adopts the stray and he becomes his protecter.
- Bryan Cranston as Chief[
- Koyu Rankin as Atari Kobayashi
- Edward Norton as Rex
- Bob Balaban as King
- Bill Murray as Boss
- Jeff Goldblum as Duke
- Kunichi Nomura as Mayor Kenji Kobayashi
- Akira Takayama as Major Domo
- Greta Gerwig as Tracy Walker
- Frances McDormand as Interpreter Nelson
- Akira Ito as Professor Watanabe
- Scarlett Johansson as Nutmeg
- Harvey Keitel as Gondo
- F. Murray Abraham as Jupiter
- Yoko Ono as Assistant Scientist Yoko Ono[
- Tilda Swinton as Oracle
- Ken Watanabe as Head Surgeon
- Mari Natsuki as Auntie
- Fisher Stevens as Scrap
- Nijiro Murakami as Editor Hiroshi
- Liev Schreiber as Spots
- Courtney B. Vance as The Narrator
- Yojiro Noda as News Anchor
- Frank Wood as Simul-Translate Machine
- Roman Coppola as Igor
- Anjelica Huston as Mute Poodle
- Kara Hayward as Peppermint
Box Office Response
This film did not do as well as The Grand Budapest Hotel, but it still made roughly 64 million dollars worldwide. But on Rotten Tomatoes it holds a rating of 90 percent, which is very high for that particular platform.
Isle of Dogs is not a perfect movie, but it’s good enough to watch again. I don’t put it in my top 10, but I do rate it a 8/10 for creativity, casting, and imagery.
Because The Grand Budapest was so good, this movie kind of pale’s by comparison. It’s not its fault and should be held to it’s own merit (which is pretty decent).
A final note
I recognize that I was pretty biased at the get go of this article. So what? I don’t think anyone could change my mind that Wes Anderson movies are better than Judd Apatow’s.
Wes Anderson movies are just so much more fun to watch. Judd Apatow on the other hand just thinks he’s insightful, and he is not.
Some of you might say that this is an apples and oranges comparison, and this might be true. But both are writers, producers, directors and both make comedies, and both have their own style that they call their own.
Typically, they both also have a clique of actors that work with them non-stop. So they have their respective crews.
Evidently Wes Anderson is coming out with a new movie called the French Dispatch, I have no clue what it’s about, but I am excited (Benicio Del Toro is in it).
On top of everything I’ve said here, Wes Anderson movies rank higher on Rotten Tomatoes, get more awards, and are more recognized by the movie industry at large as being unique and good.
They might not be huge money makers for the studios, but in the end they are more art than anything else.
To summarize all the movies I went through. Judd Apatow wishes he was as good as Wes Anderson, because it’s not even close.
If you disagreed with anything I said here, feel free to leave it in the comments. Please be respectful, and lets get a dialogue going!
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