Judd Apatow drinks PBR as summer burns.

Judd Apatow drinks PBR as summer burns. (photo)

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Friday night, the obnoxious circle-of-easy-liberal-punchlines that is HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” briefly perked up as Judd Apatow dropped by to remind people that “Get Him To The Greek” is an actual movie that’s coming out and people should see it.

First he drank one of the PBRs Maher had gotten as part of a joke about life in Sarah Palin’s Alaska: “I’m a drug addict but I draw the line at that shit,” Maher cracked, indicating he hasn’t been to any shows in Brooklyn lately. They then discussed Apatow’s infallibility (as if last year’s twin financial disasters of “Year One” and “Funny People” had never happened) and Maher — a stand-up buddy of Apatow’s from back in the day — ruefully admitted “now you’ve surpassed me.”

Well, has he? It was the worst June box-office year in five years (and worse if you factor for inflation). Faced with a weekend in which there was no clear stand-out blockbuster — merely “Killers,” “Greek,” “Marmaduke” and “Splice” — the American people loudly asserted their indifference and stayed home. The much-touted return to multiplex movie-going as a response to economic tough times hit a leak.

06072010_killers1.jpg“Greek” performed solidly but unremarkably; as for “Killers” (a movie so cheap and shoddy even its explosions are unconvincing), it was interesting to watch another Apatow associate (Katherine Heigl received a big boost from “Knocked Up,” and she wastes more time on pregnancy tests here) succumb to failure. And yes, talking dogs and gene-spliced babies are still a reasonably tough sell. I suspect that a lot of movies get a boost when not-particularly-picky multiplex-goers, sold out of their intended film, settle for something else. This weekend, there was no movie that was even close to selling out, and the crush that benefits everyone never materialized.

But back to Apatow, the man allegedly better off than Maher. Apatow — who doesn’t really make political statements but whose movies are, as has been widely noted, essentially culturally conservative — was drinking that beer Maher so disapproves of as they discussed drug use. “The point of most of the movies is ‘you don’t want to behave like this,'” Apatow said. “That doesn’t come through,” Maher responded, which is absolutely true; given the amount of time Apatow’s characters spend getting funnier and funnier the more they ingest and abuse, the message isn’t terribly clear.

06072010_knocked.jpgWatching the two old friends and colleagues sit side by side, you couldn’t at least help but breathe a sigh of relief that it was Apatow, not Maher, who blew up. Whatever his flaws, Apatow lacks Maher’s noxious sense of clarity and moral absolutes. The two talked about how much they hung out and how Apatow emulated Maher when he was an up-and-coming comic, but over the years Maher has curdled into a dead-certain semi-libertarian pushing certain inflexible talking points. You get the sense Apatow, too, has a message he wants to push (such as “don’t be a stupid pothead who can’t handle adult life”), but he’s much less certain what that might be or how to present it, which makes his movies much easier to watch even if you disagree with what they’re about.

The most interesting thing about the movies he actually directs is how they’re always pulled in two directions at once: “The 40 Year Old Virgin” is about sex jokes and mocking virgins but also about affirming monogamy, “Knocked Up” is allegedly in favor of marriage but Apatow’s direction of (his wife!) Leslie Mann as a tensely married shrew undercuts his point. The ambivalence was pushed to the max in “Funny People” — a freakishly confessional film with seemingly no filter, with Apatow and co. trying to be honest about the negative problems of the obscenely wealthy — and Apatow’s a better director for it.

Here’s Apatow sharing a beer with Andrew Sullivan, the only other guy at the table drinking. Of course.

[Photos: “Real Time with Bill Maher,” HBO, 2003-present; “Killers,” Lionsgate, 2010; “Knocked Up,” Universal, 2007]


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.