Ranked: Judd Apatow Movies from Worst to Best

Assessing every film from Apatow's gang, from The 40-Year-Old Virgin to the new Bridesmaids.

By Andrew Osborne

One of the knocks against Judd Apatow has always been that — with the exception of his wife, Leslie Mann — his cinematic clubhouse has largely been a rowdy boys' club. That may explain Apatow's involvement as one of the producers of Bridesmaids, the upcoming Kristin Wiig comedy (directed by Freaks & Geeks alum Paul Feig) that's being promoted as the female answer to raunchy bromances like The Hangover. But where does Bridesmaids fall in the overall Apaverse? To find out, we've created a worst-to-best ranking of every film from Apatow Productions.

 

15. Drillbit Taylor (2008)

Apatow produced this My Bodyguard retread about a bunch of geeks who get continuously and obsessively attacked by a psychotic bully until they eventually hire a homeless con man to protect them — after which they continue getting bullied for another hour or so, until everyone finally learns to fight back and hug. (Or something like that — I started drifting off near the end.) I was going to say this one seemed like a John Hughes cast-off pumped full of curse words, until I checked IMDb and saw the script (credited to curse-word enthusiasts Seth Rogen and Kristofor Brown) was actually based on a story by the late Hughes.

 

14. Step Brothers (2008)

No movie featuring the lovely and talented likes of John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell can ever be a complete fiasco. But director Adam McKay's goofy, one-joke tale of step-sibling rivalry between a pair of middle-aged slackers may have marked the moment when man-child humor officially jumped the shark.

 

13. Year One (2009)

While this Mel Brooks-ian Old Testament schtick-fest is generally more tolerable than some of the more grueling stretches of Brooks' like-minded History of the World, Part I, it also lacks anything as memorable as the "Inquisition" or "Jews in Space" sequences from the older film. Still, writer/director Harold Ramis knows his way around a sight gag, there are some amusing cameos from David Cross and Paul Rudd (as Cain and Abel), and Michael Cera and Jack Black make a likably mismatched team (assuming you're not the sort who can barely stand the sight of one or both of them).

 

12. Get Him to the Greek (2010)

After watching an ad for Arthur recently, my wife channeled her inner mean girl to snip, "Hollywood, stop trying to make Russell Brand happen! He looks like a pubic hair!" Later, she admitted she thought the British imp could be funny, but mainly when used as a spice (see: Forgetting Sarah Marshall) rather than as the main course. My Brand tolerance is slightly higher (especially when he's paired with the likes of Jonah Hill, Elisabeth Moss, and the underrated comedian Sean "Diddy" Combs), but it's hard to call this one anything but uneven.

 

11. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

The NASCAR subculture is fertile ground for comedy, and while the work of Apatow, McKay, and Ferrell here never quite scales the madcap heights of their previous collaboration, Anchorman, it's not for lack of trying. Ferrell and John C. Reilly have the natural chemistry of an old vaudeville team, yet somehow Sacha Baron Cohen still manages to steal the show, as a gay French Formula One racer married (for extra comic bonus points) to Andy Richter.

 

10. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

Jake Kasdan, another F&G alum, helmed this meat-and-potatoes farce, parodying music biopics in general (and Walk the Line and Ray in particular). John C. Reilly is reliably charming as the lead, The Office's Jenna Fischer gets to bust out some slinky outfits, and the comedic hit-to-miss ratio is decent, with Apatow regulars popping up in cameo highlights (including an appearance by Justin Long, Jack Black, Paul Rudd, and Jason Schwartzman as the Beatles, in a scene I could have watched for half the film's running time).

 

9. Pineapple Express (2008)

Hitting just before Seth Rogen and James Franco saturation set in, this stoner buddy caper scores with the chemistry of its two slacker leads before devolving into a bunch of standard-issue action sequences that were probably more fun to film than to sit through. The film also features a bit more Danny McBride than I typically need in my viewing diet, and while it's nice to see Rosie Perez onscreen again, her underwritten role consists mostly of screeching and scowling.

Commentarium (104 Comments)

May 12 11 - 12:45am
nope

I did not like Knocked Up or the 40-Year-Old Virgin nearly as much as you, apparently. I consider both of them fairly overrated. They're touching, but didn't have as many bits or characters that I found really funny. Superbad, Anchorman, Walk Hard and Forgetting Sarah Marshall are the best of the bunch in my opinion.

Also, I just realized some of the truly awful films that I consider "Apatow films" (such as Zach and Miri Make a Porno) didn't actually have anything to do with him.

May 12 11 - 8:10pm
Fuckface Jones

This is so subjective, but this list is WRONG! Step Brothers. Cable Guy. Superbad. That's your top 3 in no particular order.

Sep 19 11 - 10:17pm
bob

The person who wrote this list is a fuckin retard and should be banned from writing reviews period. Super bad, Knocked up and Step brothers were three of the funnies movies ever!!!!!

Sep 20 11 - 1:07pm
bob's mom

...and you are definitely not a 'retard' yourself, based on that comment.

May 12 11 - 1:12am
drunkelstiltskin

Step Brothers is a classic. No way in hell Funny People or Year One should outrank it. I walked out of both of those snoozefests.

May 12 11 - 1:57am
David

Thank you! I was thinking the exact same thing.

May 12 11 - 9:04am
akay

Step Brothers is clearly the superior film.

May 12 11 - 2:14pm
dickfart

This list is so messed up

May 12 11 - 2:16pm
K

Agreed!

May 12 11 - 3:11pm
MickeyWin

Hells yeah! Step Brothers was the shitz. Unlike this list, which can be compared to Year One.....useless.

May 12 11 - 9:08pm
The Kelvis

This list is a f*cking prison! On Planet Bullsh*t! In the galaxy of This Sucks Camel D*cks!

May 12 11 - 11:54pm
This list can suck

ma balls
Yeah this guys is a fricken dildo face. Hating on Russell Brand - Get Him to the Greek below Taladega Knights my ass

May 17 11 - 1:28am
jisforJoe

IT'S THE CATALINA-FUCKING-WINE MIXER! POW-POW!

Jun 14 11 - 11:19pm
Ryan

Agreed!!!!

May 12 11 - 1:45am
Show

Pleasantly surprised to see love for Funny People. (And Spanglish) I'm generally alone on that.

May 12 11 - 7:57pm
Biff McCoy

Uh, Spanglish wasn't an Apatow movie - not even REMOTELY. James Brooks wrote/directed it.

May 12 11 - 10:46pm
Cat

I think Show just meant that the author mentioned Spanglish being good, not that it was part of the Apatow list

May 12 11 - 2:11am
Jojo

Right or wrong I could not agree with this list any less.

May 12 11 - 2:53am
Dan

What does that even mean?

May 12 11 - 10:42am
jynn

That someone's command of English isn't exactly running efficiently perhaps?

May 12 11 - 2:36am
Tiffany

I would most definitely rate Superbad much lower. It was totally dull. Would also rate Funny People lower. Generally agree with the top three, though I guess the order could be argued based on one's affinity for balls-out funny vs heartwarming, or whatever balance of the two tickles your particular pickle.

May 12 11 - 2:40am
God

Step Brothers is at the top of my list. Watch it again. You failed with this list.

May 12 11 - 11:20am
theHUB

Word.

May 12 11 - 2:54am
Dan

I like the top 7 like they are.

May 12 11 - 5:23am
G

Step Brother should be #5, Superbad should be #7, and switch Knocked Up and Anchorman.

May 12 11 - 6:57am
KT

I have yet to see Bridesmaids, Year One, and Drillbit Taylor.
From the ones I have seen, I would rank in the following order:
1. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
2. Superbad
3. Anchorman: Legend of Ron Burgundy
4. Step Brothers
5. Knocked Up
6. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
7. Pineapple Express
8. The Cable Guy
9. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
10. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
11. Funny People
12. Get Him to the Greek

May 12 11 - 9:09am
Werner

I agree that Russel Brand looks like a pubic hair.

May 13 11 - 8:17pm
AW

haha.

May 12 11 - 9:12am
Rett

I love Cable Guy. It's sneakily funny, especially if you see it on April 20th (slow wink) I didn't know Apatow had anything to do with that.

May 12 11 - 10:19am
Rachel Schauman

Oh boy, there are some things to say here. I will take flack for it, BUT.....Get Him to The Greek is a great film. Get past your hatred for Brand and realize that they rewrote his entire role in Sarah Marshall to suit him because that's how great it was, and then made an entire movie about it. Diddy was spot on amazing. If Russell Brand looks like your pubic hair, I would recommend you start waxing.

May 12 11 - 11:13am
Greendale

A) You ranked Step Brothers waaaaaay to low. When it came out, everyone was in full on Will Ferrell backlash mode, but now everyone seems to admit that this movie is hilarious.

B) Spot on with Russel Brand. I love his stand up, but there's only so much I can take of him in films. He just isn't a leading man.

C) Funny People breaks my heart. I LOVED the first half of the film, but it just falls apart once they go to Leslie Mann's house.

May 12 11 - 11:19am
theHUB

Wow, Nerve just lost so much credibility with this list. Step Brothers is one of the funniest movies of the last decade. Major fail, Nerve.

May 12 11 - 11:55am
Sexy Minx

This is my short list. (I didn't see Cable Guy or Bridemaids and didn't find his other films funny.)
1. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
2. Anchorman: Legend of Ron Burgundy
3. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
4. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
5. (barely, it had a few moments) Get Him to the Greek

May 12 11 - 12:02pm
Laura

Seriously did not agree with the ranking of this list AT ALL. Year One is clearly the worst.

May 12 11 - 5:39pm
Pricia

I agree!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 12 11 - 12:15pm
FT

Get Him to the Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall should be much higher. For me, Forgetting Sarah Marshall would be number 1 - I've seen it at least 50 times. Anything with Wil Ferrall should be lower...

May 12 11 - 1:12pm
Brook

I could not watch Walk Hard. I fell asleep during Year One. Funny People wasted far too many minutes of my life.

You have lost your mind.

May 12 11 - 1:22pm
Rooney

Forgetting Sarah Marshall ranked that high? It was exactly like every other rom-com with better jokes. Oh no, is he going to meet another girl, mess things up, but then fix them in time to end up with her for the end of the movie?

May 12 11 - 1:33pm
bort

I stopped reading this list when Step Brothers was ranked second worse. You might want to go back and watch that one.

May 18 11 - 10:20am
chuck schick

exactly. this is one of the worst lists I have ever seen.

Feb 03 12 - 5:20am
ian

This writer is not a combination of fergie and jesus

May 12 11 - 1:37pm
Jakob

Heavyweights all the way

May 12 11 - 2:05pm
Danielle Gibson

Oh my gosh! Completely!

May 13 11 - 3:27pm
Syrah

I was waiting for Heavyweights to show up on this and it never did. That's just criminal.

You know what else is criminal? Placing Knocked Up at #2. Katherine Heigel ruins everything.

May 12 11 - 1:40pm
ChristianH

Forgetting Sarah Marshall may be my favorite comedy of the last decade. Not sure about that. Definitely my favorite Apatow-related movie. Even the editing is funny in that movie.

May 12 11 - 1:42pm
dave1976

I'll concur with the Step Brothers fuck up. Like many Will Ferrell projects, it's a grower. Same goes for Talledega Nights.

May 12 11 - 2:19pm
K

I thought Talledega Nights was really funny. Maybe that's because I hate NASCAR, but am surrounded by people who enjoy it. Who knows? I definitely thought it was better than most of the movies on this list.

May 12 11 - 1:57pm
JaySin420

Wow! What a crazy list!

I think Step Brothers is one of the funniest movies ever, and Year One was amazingly awful (especially considering the great cast).

May 12 11 - 2:14pm
dickfart

You need to sort out the order of this list dudebro.

May 12 11 - 2:20pm
dude

Step Brothers is easily #6 or higher. Hilarious.

May 12 11 - 2:22pm
Lady

whaaaa...this list be crazy. Step Bros. is top 3 material and Walk Hard desereves more.

May 12 11 - 2:28pm
Sean

Sorry, but your ranking sucks.

May 12 11 - 2:28pm
person

Why is bridesmaids on this list when no one has seen it yet? Stupid.

May 12 11 - 5:15pm
BenReininga

We used our powers of persuasion and clout with the media bigwigs to get the writer into an advance screening. Smart.

May 12 11 - 2:34pm
Queef Latifa

Poorly put together list. I can understand drillbit taylor ranked last, but the cable guy? really? you liked the cable guy better than pineapple express? cmon now.

May 12 11 - 3:02pm
Howdy

Step Brothers is awesome!

May 12 11 - 3:37pm
julian.

These type of lists are just asking for disagreement.

May 12 11 - 3:40pm
SoloOrgana

How is Heavyweights not on this list? Much funnier than half the movies listed here.

May 12 11 - 4:15pm
russell

Terrible list

May 12 11 - 4:33pm
Wess

Worst list I've ever read on this site. by far.

May 12 11 - 5:12pm
A.W. Johnson

"Funny People" is three movies. It starts off as a great movie about young stand-up comics coming up in the L.A. comedy scene. It turns into an OK movie about one of those young comics becoming an assistant to a huge comedy star who is terminally ill. Then it turns into a god-awful movie about the huge comedy star trying to get back together with his old girlfriend. The whole final act literally flipped the script and made "Funny People" a piece of shit, seemingly because Apatow feels compelled to give Leslie Mann (his wife) increasingly larger roles in each movie he makes. She is awful.

I'm happy that bafflingly popular flicks like "Step Brothers" and "Ricky Bobby" are deservedly low on the list, though.

May 12 11 - 5:16pm
PeterSmith

I like Leslie Mann, actually. But I hated Funny People for exactly that reason. It's fine to make a movie about rich narcissists who treat everyone around them like shit, but Funny People doesn't even seem to *realize* that it's about rich narcissists who treat everyone around them like shit.

May 12 11 - 5:19pm
Saeta->

I generally dislike people commenting that something 'is the worst ___' but this list seriously sucks. Talladega Nights and Step Brothers both deserve to be much higher, and Dewey Cox actually made me fall asleep. Cable Guy was borderline awful, and the top two films are the most overrated works of Apatow's career which have not aged very well.

May 12 11 - 8:58pm
kk

who cares about his movies, his TV shows are so much better.

May 12 11 - 9:06pm
ben

Talladega nights is HILARIOUS. Funny People was probably one of the worst movies of the last 10 years. The "funny" half wasn't funny and Adam Sandler has not done a single funny thing since Big Daddy, and thats a stretch. Step Brothers was also way better than its getting rated. Bridesmaids? Who has seen this? Apatow is hit or miss. Dewey Cox should have been right after funny people at the bottom of this last. Bad Movies. period.

May 12 11 - 9:29pm
Disappointed

This list is atrocious. Knocked was awful, and REALLY, Year One outranked Step Brothers?? Not to mention that Spanglish is legitimately the second worst movie I've ever seen (after Keeping Up With The Schwartzs).
Just a really, really awful article.

May 12 11 - 9:31pm
j9good

I totally agree on 40-Year Old Virgin and Anchorman - was disappointed with Knocked Up. It was ok, not as great as the other two. Judging from the comments here, I'd better see Stepbrothers!

May 12 11 - 9:31pm
gaby

Funny People was the first movie I fell asleep while watching it on movie theaters. It was awful, extremely unfunny, and way too long. Too high up!

May 12 11 - 9:34pm
Also Disappointed

This list is purely subjective. "Funny" People was the most boring Apatow movie I've ever seen and how the hell is Year One above Step Brothers? Michael Cera is awful!
This list is terrible and apparently I'm not the only one who thinks that.
Ironic this website is called 'nerve' because you certainly have some to compile this list...

May 12 11 - 9:53pm
douchebag

anchorman and step brothers...nuff said

May 12 11 - 10:10pm
MightyMouse

1.Superbad
2.Anchorman
3.Cable Guy
4. Knocked Up
5. 40 Year Old Virgin
6. Tallagada Nights
7. Funny People
8. Get Him to the Greek
9.Drillbit Taylor
10. Step Brothers
9. Walk Hard
10. Pineapple Express
12. Year One

Reasons- Pineapple Express- Rogan is the straight man, Franco can't do comedy. Superbad funniest and relatable to teenage years, Knocked Up ranks high because it may be less funny overall but has the best story and is rewatchable.
Step Brothers has one joke over and over and over, no real higher meaning or subtext, it's clearly a favorite of the mentally challanged though...

May 13 11 - 2:53am
Secret Character

Not a bad list but you must switch out 3 and 10 and replace 9 completely with Sara Marshall, then switch that with 7 and it is perfect. Franco did a great job in pineapple express. It is not easy to portrait stoner. High yes. Stoner, not so much. There were nuances in that performance that are under appreciated. I've said my piece. I resign.

May 12 11 - 10:50pm
Don

What about Heavyweights?!

May 12 11 - 11:05pm
Kris

I stopped reading this when he said step brothers was the second worst movie.

May 12 11 - 11:05pm
Kris

Hey, you don't say that.

May 12 11 - 11:10pm
John

This list is bullshit

May 12 11 - 11:24pm
katewastaken

perkisize me, please.

May 12 11 - 11:32pm
LO

I didn't realize how bad Judd Apatow sucked until I read this list.

May 13 11 - 12:44am
Phil

HEAVYWEIGHTS!!!!??!??!??!?

May 13 11 - 1:59am
Bee

I agree with 40-Year-Old Virgin being #1, but have to say... Step Brothers is hilarious! The performance of Richard Jenkins as John C. Reilly's father alone makes Step Brothers a very funny movie that should be in the top 5. I always thought Superbad and Knocked Up were a tad overrated, though they has their moments. I think Forgetting Sarah Marshall should be higher. Just sayin'.

May 13 11 - 2:26am
jason

Anchorman is the funniest one in my opinion. I still quote lines from that flick. 40 year old virgin being number 1 is prob right, best all around movie.

May 13 11 - 3:10am
darwinmayflower

this list is horrible.
you should pull your balls out of your wife's purse, and give up anything to do with movie writing.

May 13 11 - 6:38am
well

It needs to be said again, this list sucks balls.

May 13 11 - 9:37am
dashjr

nice job making a shit list fuck face

-jr

May 13 11 - 10:34am
CaptainMal

Wow, what a terrible list. I don't think you have ever seen a Judd Apatow movie, but read like their summaries on wikipedia and just listed in what order you think was best. First off, you left Heavyweights, Apatow's first movie where he wrote and produced, which is way funnier than Dewey Cox, Year 1, or Drillbit Taylor. Second, Bridesmaids just came out today, so how can it already be at 4 when you have Step Brothers, which is probably top 5, at the end. You should take this down and let someone who actually is smart enough to rank things properly can do it. Also, top five should be in no particular order; Step Brothers, Anchorman, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Heavyweights, and Talladaga Nights. Also, Funny People was Depressing and Never Funny.

May 13 11 - 12:40pm
Jamal

worst fucking list and article ever.

May 13 11 - 12:41pm
john t.

good list. sorry...step brothers was painful to watch...

May 13 11 - 6:02pm
Mr. Thumb Up My Ass

I get that all of the writers at Nerve are way smarter and more "hip" than us regular knuckle dragging citizens, but enough with your pretentious bullshit! Bridesmaids is all ready the 4th best movie he made really! Go fuck your self! Be serious I know this is your opinion but can you try and be a little objective. We know everything has to be witty and smart and "poo" jokes aren't funny but for some of us who are not English or journalism majors who can't find real jobs, CHILL THE FUCK OUT!

May 17 11 - 1:47pm
Nimrods Son

How the fuck would you know if it's not the fourth best Apatow film if you haven't seen it? I'm pretty sure you haven't seen it (Nerve got to see a press screening) so just calm the fuck down until you've at least seen the movie. And you do realize that the number one spot is a film just filled with wanking and gay jokes? It's hardly a pretentious intellectual feast (though I do think it's very good and definitely my favourite my Apatow film.).

Anyway people need to calm down and just realize that taste is subjective. Enough with the "this list sucks BALLS" comments. It's ok to disagree but believe it or not, not everybody shares your opinion. And personally I agree with most of this list anyway. Compared to 40 Year Old Virgin or Superbad, Step Brothers has none of the nice character moments and personally I think the former two movies are just way funnier.

May 17 11 - 1:49pm
Nimrods Son

Oh and I thought the cable Guy was a dark treat as well. Don't get the hate!

May 16 11 - 10:35am
Me

Boy, I sure would like to be a dartboard salesman in New York City right about now.

May 17 11 - 12:50am
Screw this

Easily the worst list I have seen here. Comedy: you're watching it wrong.

May 17 11 - 2:18am
jisforJoe

Here's my Remix/cleanup of this article's janky-ass pecking order:

1. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
2. Superbad
3. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
4. Knocked Up
5. Pineapple Express
6. The 40-Year-Old Virgin
7. The Cable Guy
8. Step Brothers
9. Bridesmaids
10. Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
11. Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
12. Get Him to the Greek
13. Funny People
14. Drillbit Taylor
15. Year One

If alien life visits the planet Earth and you get one movie to answer the question, "Who is Judd Apatow?" Anchorman is the film you show them.

Anchorman is the most comprehensive exhibition of Apatow's style and sensibility, showcasing in one movie the comic landscapes he tends to tread—bromance, romance, deft wordplay and dialogue, sight gags, exceptional comedic performances from female cast-members, alpha-males, egomania, absurdism, man-child syndrome, gross-out humor, drug humor, tragedy, and meta-commentary—whereas the other films only dip partially into this list of themes. All this, wrapped in the best "period-piece" Apatow has executed to date (sorry, Year One, but you were unwatchable), topped off with home-run casting (packed with both stars and scene-stealers), and you've got the quintessential Apatow movie.

May 17 11 - 2:23am
jisforJoe

Or I my preferred order could be infinitely worse. You be the judge, Internet comments thread!

May 17 11 - 4:31pm
John

Just saw Brides maids no way its 4th, Nimrods son your a cock sucking faggot and probably the author of this $5 article!

May 17 11 - 4:38pm
Nimrods Son

or maybe I'm just smart enough not to judge a movie before I've seen it and advise others to do the same

May 20 11 - 5:00pm
Jon

the right list.
1. Anchorman
2. Step Brothers
3. Superbad
4. 40-year-old Virgin
5. Talladegha Nights
6. Knocked Up
7. Pineapple Express
8. Get Him To The Greek
9. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
10. Walk Hard
11. Bridesmaids
12. The Cable Guy
13. Funny People
14. Year One
15. Drillbit Taylor

Jun 14 11 - 11:18pm
Ryan

I agree with Jon's RIGHT LIST.
Funny people was absolutely horrible. Step Brothers was awesome.

Aug 20 11 - 10:43pm
Bumble Bee Tuna

o man thank god there is fucking people out there like jon that just fucking get it...wow i was starting to wonder about the world we live in when anchorman and step brothers are being credited as not funny movies...

Jun 18 11 - 5:58am
Tsafan

Knocked Up number 2???? NUMBER 2??? Jeeesus..... worst...list...ever....

Nov 13 11 - 7:50am
squid

step brothers is top 5 and year one is utter garbage, but I do agree 40 year virgin is numero uno.

Nov 30 11 - 6:39am
Nik

you ranked year one above step brothers? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. worst list.

May 01 12 - 9:16am
will

Command of english? wtf is that? tried to sound smart but you blew it.

May 22 12 - 1:08pm
Joe

This list is, excuse my french, fucking terrible.
They have awful taste.