If you're a fan of either man (or both), I bet the question Is Judd Apatow this generation's John Hughes? inspires an immediate, gut-level "yes" or "no." It's either a valid comparison or a terrible insult. But let's talk about it.

The two filmmakers are similarly prolific. Between 1984 and 1991, Hughes served as writer, director, or producer -- and sometimes all three -- on a whopping 14 movies. Apatow, meanwhile, has his name on 15 films just since 2005, three as director (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, and the upcoming Funny People), and the rest as writer or producer. Granted, a producer (especially "executive producer") doesn't always have much influence on the actual creative content of a film, but it's not hard to look at something like, say, Superbad, and see Apatow's fingerprints.

Apatow-produced films tend to rely less on tight screenplays and more on improvisation and horsin' around -- but Hughes dabbled in that, too, particularly when working with people like Steve Martin and John Candy (Planes, Trains & Automobiles) or Chevy Chase (the Vacation movies). There are supposedly enough deleted scenes from Planes to make a three-hour version of the film, an idea that should sound familiar to Apatow fans.

On a deeper level, the films by Apatow and Hughes tend to focus on teenagers or immature adults whose lives are altered either by regular slice-of-life stuff (losing one's virginity; graduating from high school) or major events (unplanned pregnancy!). The films are always comedies, and often sarcastic and caustic (and, with Apatow, incredibly vulgar), yet there's always a tender side, too. Their films have heart.
categories Cinematical