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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.