Judd Apatow Defends An Unfortunate Child-Murder Joke In This Is 40

By Sean O'Connell 2012-12-20 18:13:36discussion comments
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Often, this job means analyzing the moments when current events affect pop-culture, and vice versa. This week, because of the tragic shooting in Connecticut, Hollywood has two unfortunate and unforeseen instances where films heading to theaters are going to address gun violence and murder, and one of the directors is taking a bold step to address the issue before it becomes a controversy.

There’s a conversation in Judd Apatow’s This is 40 where Paul Rudd is talking to his dad (played by Albert Brooks) about having more kids than he can afford to raise. Brooks’ character jokingly asks what Rudd suggests he should do. He plays a morbid game, stating, “Line Up! Line up for murder! Come on! Who wants to be killed?” The kids all raise their hands, and Brooks character mimics shooting one of the children.

It’s not a particularly funny scene in 40, and now – in hindsight – it’s uncomfortable. But Apatow tells TMZ that he wrote the jokes almost two years ago while workshopping the screenplay, and that it is “spoken by a sarcastic father kidding with his children.”

Obviously. I do not think it’s fair to snap-judge any movie that clearly has been in production for more than a year and never could have predicted that a national tragedy such as the shootings in Newtown could have happened the week before a comedy’s release date. And to be honest, I saw This 40 a few weeks back and completely forgot about this exchange until TMZ ran this story. Apatow apologizes for anyone who might deem the scene inappropriate, but Universal does not plan to pull it from the finished movie.

A similar situation faces Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher, a crime thriller with a strong emphasis on a sniper who shoots random targets in public. The opening scene gives audiences an extended look through the sniper’s scope, and its hard not to think about the Connecticut tragedy as the sequence plays out. It’s not fair to hold this against these films. Five years from now, they’ll be the exact same films, but viewed in a different context. Will it affect what movie you choose to see in theaters this weekend?
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