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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]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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