Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Original Judd Apatow Script

First, a confession.  I've seen all the popular Judd Apatow films (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad, etc.).  Another confession: I've laughed myself sick watching them.  A third confession: I've watched them again and again on cable.

Confession is good for the soul.  I feel better already.

Apatow truly found the goose-that-lays and coaxed from it a nice little pile of golden eggs to enrich himself and elevate to stardom a number of young performers.  His story: the enduring adolescence of the American male.  That story continues, of course.  If you've seen, oh, films like Horrible Bosses or Hall Pass and the like, you know that the story has not gone away; it's just found some different "vehicles," as my former English professors used to say.

Apatow did not, of course, invent the story.  (All he had to do was look around him: it's hardly fiction, what he saw.)  It's been around for a long, long time--the story about the young man who remains an adolescent, who has to be taught (usually by a woman) how to grow up, how to love.

Shakespeare employed this idea over and over again in his comedies.  Think, oh, of Much Ado About Nothing--Claudio accuses his bride of infidelity--at their wedding!  He has a lesson to learn.  Much of As You Like It involves Rosalind (disguised as a man) instructing her lover, Orlando, about how to love.

But perhaps his greatest example of an Apatow story is Love's Labour's Lost.  Let me pitch it as a story idea for Apatow and his disciples.

A group of four guys (a king and his buddies) decide they're going to withdraw from the company of women (who, you know, can be a distraction); they will spend three years engaged in ... reading and study.  They all commit--high-five--etc.  And it goes really, really well, for a few minutes.

Then some women arrive at the court--some hot, rich, noble, intelligent, clever women from France.  A princess and her friends.  The King--holding to his promise--tells them they must camp outside.  They can't enter the court.  (After all, he's sworn to his buddies that he will, you know, eschew women.)

Let's guess what happens ...  One by one, the men are smitten.  They're sneaking around trying to be with the women but without letting their BFFs know it.

That doesn't last long.

In one of the funniest scenes, the men all dress up as Russians and arrive at the women's camp for a frolic.  They don't want the women to know they've broken their vow to one another.  But the women are not fooled.  They play along.  Playing with the men.

Eventually, they pair off (surprised?), vow to wed, etc.

And then, very near the end, the Bard--that tricky Bard, that killjoy Bard--introduces into the mix a messenger from France.  He comes with the news that the Princess' father has died.

The light in the play vanishes.  Reality has arrived.  A reminder of mortality.  Of life's seriousness.

The men are sad--but still want to marry.

The women say, basically: "Remember that solemn vow you made to your friends?  How long did that last?  How can we believe your vows to us will be any more enduring?  Everything with you is a joke."

GUYS: Aw, c'mon ... you know ... I'm like ... whatever ...

The women say: "Go away for a while.  Help someone else.  Grow up.  Come back in a year and see if you're still interested.  Then we'll talk."

The guys agree.  What else can they do?  And then they sing ...

I've seen a lot of good productions of this play--and once took some Aurora students to see one in Cleveland in the early 1990s.  Kenneth Branagh filmed it in 2000 (and starred), setting it in the 1930s, adding music and dance from the era.  It bombed at the box office.  Though I kind of liked it.

DYER: So whaddya think, Judd?

APATOW: Let's green-light the thing!  Dyer, you will write and play the lead, OK?

DYER: Lemme think about it ...



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