12 Comedy Directors Who Have Lost Their Way
Sex Tape recently hit theaters with a resounding thud, flopping hard with critics and audiences. People questioned the appeal and star power of Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel. But the truth was, an experienced director was involved: Jake Kasdan. And when you reach a certain level in your career, you get held accountable, particularly if you had a brilliant past and a dimmer present.
In the vein of Jake Kasdan, who has already made a handful of comedy cult classics, we pinpointed 10 comedic filmmakers down on their luck and in search of a new mission, a new meaning, something that gets the creative juices flowing again. Too many funny storytellers behind the camera are being compromised by the material, and we decided to give them all a spotlight to see how, and if, they can learn from their mistakes. Starting with:
Jake KasdanWhere They've Been: Kasdan made his debut with the low-key comedy noir Zero Effect, which pivoted on an easy, jokey chemistry between a jittery Ben Stiller and a spacey Bill Pullman. But he sharpened his craft helming multiple episodes of Freaks And Geeks, where he developed a kinship with the lost youth at the heart of the college comedy Orange County. He absolutely killed it in 2007, however, with the Judd Apatow-produced one-two punch of The TV Set and Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox story. The latter was a broadly silly spoof of music biopics that may be the funniest thing Apatow has ever been involved with, a pitch-perfect laugh factory that skewers every dumb cliché of that genre. The former, however, was a whip-smart indie about a defeated television producer (David Duchovny, essentially playing Apatow) trying to get a smart show on the air despite the involvement of under-educated and impatient executives. No one saw either movie, but Kasdan eventually grabbed the gig for Bad Teacher, his first big hit.
Where They Are: Sony thought they could replicate the success of Bad Teacher by reuniting Kasdan with stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel. The results are a not-particularly-funny, not-particularly bawdy comedy that thus far has flopped hard at the box office. What's worse, it feels as if Kasdan has completely lost touch with the weirdos and outcasts who populated his earlier films: even Diaz's selfish, hungover entitlement princess in Bad Teacher fits within his group of rogues.
Where They're Going: Depressingly enough, Kasdan is doubling-down on his current status. He's attached to a Bad Teacher 2 that absolutely no one needs. Hopefully he only produces and moves on to something smaller, odder, less mainstream-baiting. He's got his big hit already, there's no reason why he can't experiment a little.
This article was first published on July 23, 2014 and was last updated on August 1, 2014.
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