Five Favorite Films

Five Favorite Films with Judd Apatow

The director/producer/writer talks to RT about his influences.

by | March 20, 2008 | Comments


Filmmaker Judd Apatow has been very busy. He’s produced four films that are being released this year (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Pineapple Express, Step Brothers, and Drillbit Taylor, which opens this Friday), and he’s also one of the writers of You Don’t Mess with the Zohan. But he was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk to us about which movies have really influenced him as a filmmaker.


The Last Detail

There are certain movies that I always go back to, but before I make a movie, I always find myself watching The Last Detail, the Hal Ashby movie. There’s something about it that’s so alive. It’s one of the first movies to really have frank language. I think it was somewhat shocking at the time. It was the first movie where everyone aggressively cursed, but it was about people in the armed services. It’s also a small story that’s very intimate and you just fall in love with all these characters that are in this terrible situation.

I always watch it because Hal Ashby shot it in such a way that it just feels real. It’s almost like a documentary. I like how he paces the scenes, the coverage, and I always go back to it because it reminds me that the most important thing I can do as a filmmaker is convince the audience that what they’re watching is really happening. I don’t want them to be aware of me. So that’s one movie. It’s both heartbreaking and hilarious, which is always my favorite combination.

Terms of Endearment

Terms of Endearment is always a touchstone movie for me. That’s one of the best acted comedy-dramas that has ever been made.

I can never get enough of Terms of Endearment. I find myself watching it over and over again. It does everything that I want a movie to do. I fall in love with the characters. I care about their journeys. It never does anything easy to make me like the characters. It doesn’t sell out the characters for likeability. They all do things that are awful to each other. The relationships are very complicated. Yet, you root for all of them when you watch the movie.

A large portion of the movie is also about cancer. It’s treated realistically and it is also hilarious in some of those moments. It’s not a maudlin movie. There are moments in that movie that I think about all the time that haunt me. The moment when Shirley MacLaine is yelling at the nurse to give her daughter more medicine… As you get older, you find yourself in those situations. It may be my favorite film of all time.

Being There

Being There is one of my favorite movies. It’s much more precise than a movie like The Last Detail. It’s a type of movie I hope one day to be able to attempt to make. It’s brilliant on every level. It is one of movies that I watch and go, “I probably will never be able to get close to this, but I should try.”

The use of television in the movie is spectacular – how what’s happening on the television in the rooms that they’re in reflects or comments on the action. Nobody has ever done that better and people have tried since and always failed. Any time I see something on a TV in a TV show, I know that they’re thinking about how great they did it in Being There. It’s another movie with some of the best performances in comedy history – Jack Warden, Melvyn Douglas, and Shirley MacLaine, so I go back to that a lot.

Welcome to the Dollhouse

I’ve always been fascinated by the film Welcome to the Dollhouse, the Todd Solondz film. It’s a really dark comedy. It might be because I grew up in Long Island and it feels like where I grew up. A lot of the strangeness of it feels familiar to me. I love the look of it. I love the tone of it.

When we started working on Freaks and Geeks, I thought a lot about Welcome to the Dollhouse, in terms of how it was lit, the production design, the strange cadences of its comedy, and these kids who feel like they’re in hell, their families and how their parents treat them. She (Heather Matarazzo) and that character (Dawn Wiener) is one of the greatest outcast nerd characters ever created in film or television. So it’s for someone who always loves a great underdog story. That’s one of my favorites and not a movie that makes it a triumphant fantasy for the nerdy girl either. That is never the Todd Solondz way.

I thought about it when we did Freaks and Geeks because we often thought, “This movie is about how you handle failure. It’s not about succeeding. It’s not a show about wish fulfillment.” You see that in a lot of Todd Solondz work. I don’t think we had half the balls that he has.


Tootsie is a perfect movie. I watch that all the time. You know there used to be a commentary track on it. They put it out on laserdisc, and there was a commentary, [but] they keep doing “anniversary editions” and they don’t have the Sydney Pollack commentary track. As a comedy nerd, I’m up in arms.

Tag Cloud

Certified Fresh Adult Swim ratings Rocky WGN Fox News Masterpiece RT History BET what to watch TCA 2017 Sneak Peek Freeform HBO TNT Martial Arts crime Holidays IFC Red Carpet Polls and Games biography 007 Kids & Family talk show First Look Photos Superheroes OWN Fall TV PaleyFest golden globes 2015 Western Star Trek Cartoon Network Starz Warner Bros. Creative Arts Emmys Fantasy politics sitcom science fiction Sci-Fi X-Men dramedy Nat Geo Lifetime Nickelodeon Crackle VH1 The CW VICE crime thriller Winners Paramount Countdown vampires binge travel docudrama dceu NYCC ABC Family CBS All Access DirecTV MTV Bravo CMT Schedule Reality Tumblr Biopics Showtime Comic Book Super Bowl ITV Christmas Dark Horse Comics ESPN TruTV Disney Channel medical drama See It Skip It Extras Emmys YA Video Games Comedy Central diversity LGBTQ Mary Tyler Moore Watching Series APB Awards period drama Esquire TLC composers spy thriller TV Land Year in Review cops TCM USA Network Universal Writers Guild of America Infographic Pirates Winter TV Star Wars E! technology History Cosplay GoT Action FXX Box Office thriller Netflix Rock Food Network SundanceTV Valentine's Day Mystery CBS Premiere Dates A&E political drama 45 Oscars supernatural Trivia TBS cinemax E3 Disney Calendar GIFs 24 frames Rom-Com Pop Reality Competition 2017 Tomatazos romance Trailer harry potter singing competition President USA NBC AMC based on movie aliens Spring TV Grammys comiccon Syfy discovery MSNBC Logo El Rey Teen DC Comics Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt transformers 2016 Election Sundance American Society of Cinematographers Best and Worst 21st Century Fox TV Opinion FX dc Summer PBS Musical Musicals social media Drama BBC Ghostbusters FOX Animation Podcast serial killer zombie Spike TCA boxoffice Lionsgate Horror Thanksgiving CNN Nominations SDCC cooking GLAAD crime drama Toys Comedy The Arrangement Amazon Country psycho Marvel historical drama Character Guide Marathons Mindy Kaling ABC adventure TIFF Interview DC Universe Music police drama war Hulu Set visit Ellie Kemper BBC America cats sports justice league