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“Neighbors” and the Limits of the Apatow Empire

Neighbors, a disappointing new frat comedy, was directed by Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets, The Five-Year Engagement), but it has the DNA of Judd Apatow all over it. Apatow is best known for writing and directing The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, but he also started a comedy empire that has spawned numerous other filmmakers. For…

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Reel Change in The Atlantic

I’m back in The Atlantic today with a new piece about Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines and the pitfalls of autobiographical filmmaking. Here is an excerpt: Cianfrance, in being so upfront about his personal connection to the material, has found an effective way to address the issues of working-class America. By making abundantly…

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“This is 40″ Gets Too Personal

It’s starting to get weird with Judd Apatow. It was acceptable (and quite cute) for him to cast his lovely and talented wife Leslie Mann as a drunk party girl in the writer/director’s debut feature, The 40 Year Old Virgin. We didn’t even mind when he brought in his kids and recast his wife for…

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Clooney and Celebrities Try to Even the Score for Obama

George Clooney is hosting a $12 million fundraiser for President Obama’s re-election campaign. Bill Maher gave a $1 million contribution, making him the campaign’s biggest individual donor. Eva Longoria has been made campaign co-chair and is doing serious outreach to the Hispanic community. It is clear that President Obama is emphasizing celebrity support in his…

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Smalltown, USA: Recap and Thoughts on Conservative Movies

Last week, we counted down the Top 5 Most (Secretly) Conservative Movies of All-Time. When I started thinking about the list, I was as shocked as you were to see some of my favorite movie stars in such conservative movies. Does this mean that the actors, writers, and directors involved in those movies are really…

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Top Five Conservative Movies: Part Two

Today, we continue counting down the Top Five Movies You Didn’t Know Were Conservative. Yesterday, we looked at two comedies (and one sequel), one that dramatized recent rhetoric from the religious right, and the other reflective of the distrust of government made popular in the Reagan era. Here are today’s picks: 3. “Knocked Up” At…