Let me tell you about my fantasy: I’m sitting at home, lounging on my queen-sized Tempur-pedic in a burnt umber cashmere sweatsuit eating loads and loads of Now and Laters, JuJuBes and other impossible-to-chew candy. I’ve just finished a huge dinner of Chicken Tikka Masala and Naan with Mango Chutney, and I’m ready to spend some quality alone time.
Suddenly, the door bursts open, and in busts a slightly out-of-shape, nerdy-looking dude who is almost unbearably earnest when he asks if he can join me on my bed filled with piles of oversized plush Pound Puppies. He sits down and says he has brought something I’m sure to enjoy. As I gaze into his eyes and recall the lyrics of Bright Eyes and Death Cab for Cutie, he hands me a box wrapped in Rainbow Bright wrapping paper.
“I didn’t even know they made this sort of festive paper!” I exclaim. “It’s vintage,” he responds nervously. I unwrap the paper, careful not to tear it, because I’m going to save it later to collage onto my wall. Inside lies the first season of Adult Swim’s “Robot Chicken” on DVD. We watch four episodes in a row, stay up talking about the latest YouTube viral video, fall asleep lightly touching hands and become best friends.
No, it’s not the most titillating fantasy in the world. Yet every show and movie I’ve really enjoyed in the last few years has told me that this is the guy for me. A guy who is not in the least bit threatening and who most likely bruises like a peach.
First there was Seth Cohen on “The O.C.” I’m referring, of course, only to the first two seasons, when he was actually witty and not dating the hottest chick at school (Anna was such a better match, duh). Then came Jim from the American version of “The Office.” How I swoon when he smirks at the camera and looks longingly at Pam! Last but not least, there’s Judd Apatow’s all-male neo-Brat Pack of sorts, all of whom happen to be pop-culture referencing, Comic-Con attending, funny dudes who like to hang out and improvise jokes. (Oh be still my beating heart when I think about Paul Rudd as every Paul Rudd character, because he’s a comedic goldmine!)
“The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” celebrate the awkward, the lumbering, the earnest, and the misguided with the nerd-tastic triumvirate of Steve Carrell, Seth Rogan, and Michael Cera. Respectively, they are the childish-man, the man-child, and the child-child. And I love them all.
But I don’t want you to walk away from reading this just thinking that I’ve maybe shared a little too much information about my crushes with the entire Yale campus. I want you to realize that Apatow stands among the best of the best when it comes to comedies made for our generation, because he lets the dudes be dudes, and in doing so, captures what it’s actually like to be young and weird.
For the most part, I’ve really disliked the selection of high-school/young people comedies I’ve seen that were made for my generation. “Never Been Kissed,” “She’s All That,” “Varsity Blues” and generally any other movie starring the Freddie Prinz Juniors and Paul Walkers of the world are not the least bit insightful into what it’s like to be in high school.
“Cruel Intentions” was fun when we were pre-teens, were still really into The Counting Crows and had never seen two girls kiss before. “Empire Records” holds a special place because it taught us to “damn the man, save the empire.” In my book, the only certifiably hilarious and smart comedies that take place in a world actually like high school (sorry, Will Ferrell vehicles) are “Clueless,” “Dazed and Confused” and “Mean Girls.”
What Amy Heckerling did for the 80s and 90s, and what Richard Linklater did for the 70s, Judd Apatow does for the 90s. He gets us, ya’ll! “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” are movies with a boner AND a heart!
Yes, the females in these movies are relegated to playing the role of either boring straight woman (Catherine Keener, Katherine Heigl, that other chick I can only assume is some iteration of the name Catherine) or crazy and/or slutty (Elizabeth Banks’ bath tub scene, Leslie Mann’s drunk driver, that girl in Superbad who does a pitch-perfect pre-pubescent strip routine). Yet even so, I can forgive him, because the appearance of Charlyne Yi and the always-stellar Mann gives me hope for the heroines of his future projects.
And when it comes down to it, these characters could exist! At Yale! Right now! Do you want to come over and play N64 and talk about “Flight of the Conchords”?
Celeste Ballard doesn’t want to admit she wants you. Bad. So if you want to court this senior, start at her improv troupe’s recruitment show and act like you want to audition. Show up to the workshop and be really not funny. Then ask her for extra one-on-one help. Finally alone, just be ultra-awkward and you’ll score!