The Morality of Apatow

02 Oct

These days in cinema, comedy has been reduced to simple fart jokes, misogynistic references to women, and usage of marijuana to obtain laughs from the audience. In fact, other than “Napoleon Dynamite” (which could only elicit a few laughs from me), I cannot think of any comedy in the past ten years that has been truly funny. These days, main characters are trying to obtain a different sort of goal: to lose their virginity, and the events that occur are quite scandalous in nature. Although full of heart, most sex comedies tend to be devoid of any sort of meaning or message. As writer Alex Wainer puts it, “We are currently in the era of the boy-man”, but are these boy-men capable of becoming men (604)? In films that Judd Apatow has had a hand in making, the boy-men do just that, become men, and they do it in films that serve as morality tales.

In films like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up”, Apatow has given us characters that face the need to grow up, “to put away childish things and belatedly face responsibilities” (604).  Wainer’s article goes on to say that both films serve as modern day, R-rated morality tales because of this realization to leave behind what childish hopes, things, and desires they have to lead a more full life. In “Virgin”, the main character Andy must put away his action figures, video games, and comic books to woo Trish, a young grandmother, and to lose his virginity. He does so, but only after he has married her. In Apatow’s second film, “Knocked Up”, Ben, a 20-something, stoner, impregnates Alison, a aspiring TV personality after a drunken one night stand. Rather than having her abort the baby or have her raise the child herself, Ben stands by Alison and her decision to keep the baby, and helps her raise the child. In that first step of maturity, he ends up beginning to fall in love with Alison and her with he.

The New York Times claims Apatow’s movies have “conservative morals the Family Research Council might embrace—if the humor weren’t so filthy” (607). I can’t help but agree as both films, as well as movies that he has produced, have one thing in common: a man at the beginning that needs to give up childish things in order to mature and embrace the woman he loves. Does this mean that love serves as a medium in which maturity is reached? Perhaps, but nonetheless, it is a great pleasure to see that though they are raunchy, that Apatow is producing films that have a meaning behind them, a message. It’s great to see morality tales still exist in today’s movie theatres.

Works Cited

Wainer, Alex. “Freaks, Geeks, and Mensches: Judd Apatow’s Comedies of the Mature.”

Common Culture: Reading and Writing about American Popular Culture.

Ed. Michael Petracca and Madeleine Sorapure. Sixth ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ:

Prentice Hall, 2009. 603-607. Print.

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