It speaks volumes that the man who gave us raunchy films like “Superbad,” “Knocked Up” and “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” is attacked for slipping in a few family friendly messages betwixt the potty humor.
Hollywood types don’t take kindly to films which say abortion and divorce may not be wonderful things. So Judd Apatow, who included an anti-abortion subplot into “Knocked Up” and extols the beauty of marriage in films like “Funny People,” takes heat for such positions.
Apatow, who appears to take standard liberal according to his Twitter feed, answered his critics from a deeply personal perspective during a Q&A with Film Comment tied to his upcoming film, “This Is 40.”
Time and again, you show us couples trying really hard to work out their problems rather than simply calling it quits and getting that divorce (or, in the case of Knocked Up, that abortion), which is something I think some critics have misconstrued as a strain of neoconservatism or family-values propaganda in your work.
Well, my parents got divorced when I was a kid and I didn’t like it, so there certainly was damage done to my psyche which makes me want people to work out their relationships and to hang in there and put in the full effort. A bad therapist could figure that out. But, you know, I like people who try really hard to connect. There’s all sorts of emotional obstacles to being your best self and being a great partner to somebody else. It requires a lot of hard work and love and patience and compassion to accomplish that–and for some people it’s not easy. I come from a world of artists and actors and actresses and comedians and we’re all a little messed up and it’s harder with us. We all want to be creative because something hurt us at some point and it makes us more open to this kind of emotional exploration. It’s hard, but that’s not an excuse not to work on these issues and try to figure out how to be a better spouse, a better parent.
I grew up on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and M*A*S*H and All in the Family and Taxi, and what that imprinted on me was that families are complicated but we love each other and at the end of the day we’re there for each other. Those James L. Brooks shows were very important to me when I was young; at the end of Taxi, no matter what happened, they were all together having a beer at the bar, and that was important to me. Meathead and Archie Bunker made up, and I liked that.