The romantic comedy has not caught up with the 21st century. The genre continues to be the whitest, most conventional, most formulaic movies at the box office. Mega-hits like “Love Actually” from early in the millennium have now been hit by criticism for their homogenous cast and traditional love stories. The rare Oscar-winning rom-com, 2012’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” is a exhausting laundry list of movie tropes — running, football, classic novels, a dance competition, and illegal betting. And as movie studios fail to romance audiences with 90-minute montages of glassy-eyed children’s librarians falling in love with architects with tragic pasts, the endlessly diverse and imaginative Golden Age of Television rages on.
But watching beautiful, sweater-draped people fall in love in funny circumstances is one of the greatest joys available on this mortal coil. Like a beautiful tomboy turned prom queen or a stunning shipwreck survivor, can the romantic comedy genre be saved by love?
The answer is obvious: Yes, if it’s true love. And now, thankfully, we are about to get the romantic comedy 2017 needs.
Comedian Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) and writer Emily V. Gordon fell in love when she was a psychology graduate student and he was a struggling comic. He was a Pakistani Muslim from a traditional family. She was a white woman from North Carolina. She contracted a mysterious illness and was put in a medically-induced coma. That week, he met her parents.
Nanjiani and Gordon wrote “The Big Sick,” starring Nanjiani and actress Zoe Kazan, based on their real relationship. Produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Michael Showalter (“Wet Hot American Summer”), the movie starts as a light romance but expands into something more complex. Kumail confronts both his girlfriend’s mortality and his future in-laws’ prejudice in the same hour. “So uh — 9/11,” Emily’s dad (Ray Romano) says to Kumail in the hospital cafeteria. “I’ve always wanted to have a conversation with…people.” Kumail looks concerned. “You’ve never talked to people about 9/11?”
At another point in the trailer, Kumail appeases nervous-looking diner patrons who have been staring at him and his friend by shouting, “It’s okay! We hate terrorists!” No weepily beautiful librarians or traumatized architects here — just a true story about love, family, and a hint of race relations.
Watch the official “The Big Sick” trailer here:
There have been a lot of think pieces written about why Donald Trump won the election. Judd Apatow has one simple explanation.
“I said it as a joke, but I think there’s something to it,” he told The New York Times. “Reagan was funny. Bill Clinton was funny. Bush was funnier than Gore. Obama was funnier than probably anybody who’s ever run for office.”
The “Girls” producer added that while Trump has a “demented sense of humor,” he was much funnier than Hillary Clinton.
Comedy theories aside, Apatow also had some choice words for those who refuse to acknowledge Trump as their president. Stop fighting to delegitimize the president-elect, he suggested, and start making strategic moves.
“I don’t think it serves a purpose to be against him,” Apatow said. “It only serves a purpose to fight issue by issue.”
Apatow is doing his part, including participating in “Love-a-Thon,” a star-studded telethon on inauguration day to raise money for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Planned Parenthood and Earthjustice.
“I’m trying to transition from making comments on social media to choosing one or two organizations to work with and support so that I feel like I’m actually being a positive part of the process,” he said. “You don’t want to be a crank.”
The comedian, who has sounded off against Trump frequently on Twitter, noted that he has gotten his fair share of nasty comments from internet trolls — but he’s not taking it too seriously.
“I’ll get insecure and go, I don’t think my career’s going that well because nobody is saying anti-Semitic things to me today,” he quipped.
Time to borrow your roommate/best friend/significant other/random work colleague’s Netflix password. It’s a new year, and there’s endless new television to binge watch. We’ve picked out just a few shows that you need to check out, each with big name Jewish talent attached.
John L. Goldwater, the late Jewish creator of “Archie and Pals,” might have raised an eyebrow had he seen the trailer for the new dark and sexy television reboot of his beloved comic book series. On January 26, The CW is bringing back the whole gang, only this time it’s a live-action drama with a whole lot more mystery, and some very steamy teenage romance. Riverdale has never been more intriguing.
Judd Apatow has made a name for himself on the small screen, first with the beloved short-lived hit “Freaks and Geeks” and most recently as producer and writer of HBO’s “Girls.” Now he’s making another splash with the upcoming comedy “Crashing.” The show, which premieres February 19, centers on a comedian who is forced to crash at the homes of various other comics after his wife leaves him. Apatow will be directing the new HBO show, while comedian Pete Holmes, who created the series, will star.
The final season of “Girls” is upon us, and it’s time to say goodbye to Hannah, Jessa, Marnie and Shoshanna. If the trailer is any indication, the four women are still fighting, healing, falling in love and figuring out their place in the world. The Brooklyn girls you love (and, let’s be real, hate) return to the small screen February 12.
The 1988 dramedy “Beaches” is getting a remake, with Idina Menzel taking over Bette Midler’s lead role. The Lifetime movie will premiere January 21, and we’re excited for just about any excuse to listen to Menzel belt out her dreamy rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events
Step back inside the gothic, playfully twisted mind of the Jewish author Daniel Handler with this television adaptation about the hapless Baudelaire children and the cruel Count Olaf (played this time around by Neil Patrick Harris). Handler will serve as executive director of the series, which will hit Netflix on January 13.
There is nothing more urgent on Netflix today than the subversive Paul Reubens’ return as Pee-Wee Herman in “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday.”
Reubens, 63 (yes, he is 63 now!), reprises the delightfully creepy Pee-Wee in a full-length movie produced by the actor and his fellow Jew, famed funny man Judd Apatow.
It’s been nearly three decades since Reubens starred in Tim Burton’s “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure,” in which the man-child’s bike is stolen by a bully, launching a hilariously bizarre nationwide search — including a stop at The Alamo and a biker dive, where his bar dance to “Tequila” became mythical.
In “Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday,” we find our twisted hero working in a diner, blissfully content with his small town life, much like Jim Carrey’s Truman Burbank in “The Truman Show.”
That all changes one day when a strapping biker played by hunky “True Blood” and “Magic Mike” star, Joe Manganiello, comes to town and convinces him that it’s time to live life. But grow up? Not so much.
“Big Holiday” premiered at the South by Southwest festival this weekend to mostly good reviews. “This movie may not reach the heights of the original, but it definitely isn’t a fail,” a Forbes film critic wrote.
It’s a triumphant return for Reubens, who many wrote off after his 1991 arrest for indecent exposure in a porn theater and his 2001 bust on child porn charges that were later dropped after he pleaded guilty to a minor obscenity charge.
Reubens told The New York Times that he was happy to bring Pee-Wee back after a two-decade absence.
“I’d been trying to get a new Pee-wee movie made for several years. I stopped doing it for a while because I really felt like I had enough of it. And then I started to feel like there was more to do. It just turned out to take longer than I thought it would,” he said.
“Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday” is only available on Netflix.
Another dysfunctional love story from Jewish entertainment mastermind Judd Apatow? Count us in!
The “Girls” and “Freaks and Geeks” writer and director, has a new TV show coming up: “Love.” Its first trailer just premiered this weekend and it promises to be as fabulously fun and awkward as any Judd Apatow creation.
The show stars Community’s Gillian Jacobs as Mickey, a slacker radio station employee, and Paul Rust as “40 year-old 12 year-old” Gus. It follows the two characters’ misadventures in romance.
In one scene, the two protagonists can be seen throwing out classic DVDs out of a car window yelling about the lie that is love: “”Sweet Home Alabama” - lies, “When Harry Met Sally” - more lies, “Homeland”… Very confusing.”
Season one of “Love” is premiering on Netflix on February 19. The show has already been signed for a second season.
Watch the trailer below:
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