Let’s make one thing clear: I don’t think Judd Apatow will ever make a movie quite as grindingly bad as Punchline, but when you’re making a dramedy set in the world of stand up comedy… well, it’s the obvious point of reference.
So yes, that’s what the next Apatow film, which will star Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann, will be about. It’s ground that Apatow, Sandler and Rogen all know inside and out, since they were stand up comics in their day. It’s also ground that is ripe for schmaltz and unbridled bathos, which are never good things. See, your average stand up comic is actually a seething mess of insecurities and problems, laughing on the outside and hurting on the inside (and sometimes not even laughing on the outside. I kind of hate hanging out with professional comics since, in their efforts to not always be ‘on’ they’ll often just be ‘off’). Case in point: Punchline.
But I have lots of faith in Apatow. I think he knows the pit – and prat – falls of a movie about stand up comics, and I think that while he has lots of sentimentality and romance at the heart of his work, he also has the Billy Wilderian ability to earn those feelings, and to undercut them as much as possible. I’ll be honest – between the casting of his old roommate Adam Sandler and the plot centering around stand up, I am wary about this next, still officially untitled film, but seeing Apatow take chances and try to grow a little bit is something that excites me. He’s going to eventually make a bad movie – the odds are just not in any filmmaker’s favor – but as long as that bad movie isn’t just a rehashing of the same shit that got him where he is today and is a real attempt at something new, I’d be okay with it.
Read the full report at MTV.com, which includes quotes from Sandler and Apatow. I’m off to New Mexico tomorrow, visiting the set of Seth Rogen’s new film, Observe and Report, so maybe I can get something out of him while I’m there.