As arguably the biggest comedy director working in Hollywood today, Judd Apatow is a funny guy and almost as importantly, he’s been a longtime friend to the MTV Movies Blog, acting as one of our first guest contributors way back when “Knocked Up” was coming out. Well, the big guy is back. Apatow’s next project, of course, is “Funny People.” And lucky for us Judd’s re-joining the MTV Movies Blog gang with a series of exclusive columns hitting every single Thursday between now and the film’s release. So without further ado, here’s Judd…
How to Make A Fake Movie
“Funny People” is the story of a famous comedian having a life crisis. Basically, George Simmons finds out he is ill and then wonders what the hell he did with his life. Was it all worth it? In order to make this character feel real we had to create the story of his career. In order to do this we combined real clips from Adam [Sandler]’s early stand-up days, some very old home videos of him and a bunch of fake movie clips which we created.
Below is a clip from one of the fake movies we shot for Funny People. The movie is called “Merman.” We use a very tiny piece of this clip in the movie. We shot a longer one just so we could put it on the Internet. Welcome to the Internet age!!! We all loved “Splash,” the fantastic, hilarious Tom Hanks/Daryl Hannah mermaid movie. This is what happens when people rip it off, badly.
How does one make a fake movie clip? It was important to us that the clips did not feel like parodies of movies but instead seemed like movies that could actually get made. It makes the clips potentially less funny than parody clips because they could not be truly over-the-top awful, they just needed to be bad the way a bad movie is bad. That being said, after making each of these clips we kind of wanted to see the entire movie.
Many people, and award shows, seem to think it is easy to make people laugh. I remember when we were shooting the “Pineapple Express” sketch that Seth [Rogen], James Franco and I made for the Oscars, there was this funny line Seth had on the topic. We showed a clip from a Holocaust-themed movie and Seth said (in stoned character) “yeah, it’s so easy to make a comedy. It’s much harder to make the Holocaust, the worst thing that ever happened on Earth, seem like a bad idea. That takes talent.” That is what comedians say on our bitter days. It actually does take talent, but my point is that it is really hard to make a great comedy and like most things in life, often you fail.
And when you do fail it is painful. There is nothing worse than making a bad movie and knowing it is going to be broadcast on cable TV for the rest of time. I am actually a fan of mediocre comedies. They are like warm soup. They can be pleasant and help time go by more easily when you just want to shut off your brain. When I make a bad movie I often try to make myself feel better by saying, “well, that is a good movie to watch if you are home with the flu.” Believe me, when you have the flu it is still hard to find enough movies to fill a day, even if you have seven hundred channels.
Every time out we all try very hard to make a great comedy. When it happens there is nothing better. How often do you make a great joke in conversation? How often do you make a joke in conversation and your friends look at you like you are an unfunny idiot and mock you to your face? Telling jokes takes balls. And we all take the risk of humiliating failure with every joke. But when it works it is the best. There is nothing more fun than having someone walk up and tell you that they loved when your wife threw up on Steve Carell, or when Jay Baruchel saw the baby popping out of Katherine Heigl’s vagina.
There were a few movie clips we did not have room for in “Funny People” which made us laugh a lot. One of them was for a fake movie called “Sayonara Davey.” This was our politically incorrect foreign exchange student movie. It is funny, but took too long to play out for us to put it in the movie. I apologize in advance.
What movie star’s career would be complete without a cop movie where his partner is a dog? “Dog’s Best Friend” is our version of that. We had very little time or money to make this clip so it looks a little too cheap. Notice how there are no extras in the shot, no props. But it makes us laugh. It was probably too much of a parody for our movie. We wanted our clips to seem bad in the way movies actually are bad. This one seems like we are making fun of it in more of a sketch-like way, but I really like it.
I hope you have enjoyed bad clip theater. You can see more on George Simmons’ website. What does this have to do with the tone of “Funny People”? Almost nothing. Our film is actually pretty realistic, and hopefully it is actually funny. But you will be the judge. I hope you like it. If not, enjoy it when you have the flu.