Through the powers of sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Twitter, everyone is a critic nowadays. And poor fan reception can kill a movie before it even starts, as folks no longer have to attend screenings to find out whether or not a movie is "bad". This has made movie production particularly challenging in the past few years, especially for the comedy genre. Critics don't seem happy with comedies unless they're rolling on the floor with laughter, and this trend has seriously pissed off director/writer Judd Apatow. He recently vented about his frustrations, saying:
When you do a big, broad comedy and it fails, it's an easy target for criticism. I also don't think critics have a great respect for the effort it takes to make people piss their pants laughing. They think it's more honorable to show someone in torment, but being able to do that doesn't make you more of an artist than being able to make The Naked Gun. It's not hard to make people cry. Kill a dog.
Mic drop. Judd Apatow's statement to Vulture seems to highlight the strange double standard in the world of film production. Dramas are consistently the critical darlings of the business, and make up the vast majority of award nominations every year. And it's because critics and Academies apparently don't take comedy movies all that seriously.
While sad subject matter can reduce most audiences into a puddle of tears, it takes a different type of detail oriented work to make folks laugh. The story must be crafted appropriately; comedies are almost musical in the way they continue to set up and deliver joke after joke, while presumably having some heart at the center of the story.
Judd Apatow has been on the receiving end of all types of feedback. While his current movie The Big Sick has been critically acclaimed, he's also produced films that received a more icy reception. His dark comedy This Is 40 was heavily criticized back in 2012, especially for the film's runtime and pacing issues. In the same interview, Judd Apatow also described how many of the best comedy writers are actually focusing on television, resulting in a lack of exciting new movie scripts. He said,
I feel like the studios don't buy as many scripts now. It used to be you'd open up Variety, and you'd see a movie studio had just bought a big high-concept comedy. Now it seems like they'd rather things come in packaged: a script, a cast, a director. As a result, a lot of great comedy writers are going to television instead of sitting at home and trying to write a script for a film, write the way I was.
Judd Apatow makes another great point, although the migration from film to TV has been one that has affected all genres. Some of the best stories are being told on the small screen, and people are taking notice.
You can catch The Big Sick in theaters now. In the meantime, check out our 2017 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.