March 25, 2008

The Difference Between John Hughes and Judd Apatow

I am still on my anti-Judd Apatow rant. I still can't quite believe how a schlub from Long Island became one of the most powerful men in Hollywood (I guess I shouldn't be surprised since its been done before...Jerry Seinfeld.) Today's LA Times has a story about the influence on John Hughes on today's comedies. Just in case you were wondering, Hughes has virtually disappeared from Hollywood since the early 1990s and has written a couple of movies (Maid in Manhattan) under a pseudonym.

Of course the LA Times writer, Patrick Goldstein, talks only to male filmmakers especially Judd Apatow about how Hughes brilliantly wrote about the outsider boys in our culture completely ignoring his influence regarding young female characters.

"You see Hughes' influence on all TV comedy, especially the stylized single-camera comedy," says Apatow. "His great film characters, starting with Anthony Michael Hall in 'Sixteen Candles,' were big inspirations. When we were growing up, we were all like Hall -- the goofy skinny kid who thinks he's cool, even if nobody else does. 'Superbad' has that same attitude, that mix of total cockiness and insecurity."
In case you have never seen Sixteen Candles, I just want to state for the record that Sixteen Candles was about Molly Ringwald's character Samantha and her struggle with being noticed and counted in our crazy world as she is on the brink of becoming a young woman.

In the mid 1980s, John Hughes did something that is lacking from today's comedies -- he made movies that spoke to both boys and girls. The list is mind boggling:
Sixteen Candles - 1984
The Breakfast Club - 1985
Pretty in Pink - 1986
Ferris Bueller's Day Off -1986
Some Kind of Wonderful- 1987

Hughes characters shaped the values Gen X's both boys and girls. He wrote young women characters with respect in a way not seen in mainstream Hollywood comedies today.

Molly Ringwald with all her angst and despair was my teenage hero. I even got a ghastly red dye job. Hughes influence can be seen in recent characters like those in in Mean Girls, and The Princess Diaries. Thank you John Hughes, I think the young men making movies today could use your advice.