A Manifesto to Save Movie Comedies

Apatow and Rogen
Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen pose with the Hollywood Comedy Award in 2012. Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images
Matthew Belloni
August 14, 2022

The past few weeks, just for fun, I’ve been texting film executives and producers a pretty simple question: Can you name an active comedy franchise? Go ahead, you try it… I’ll wait.

Until about the mid-2010s, of course, comedies were a thing, and many spawned sequels. Austin Powers, The Hangover, American Pie, Neighbors, Rush Hour, Ted, Big Momma’s House, Meet the Parents, 21 Jump Street, Horrible Bosses, Ride Along, Legally Blonde… the list of sequels to these films is long, albeit often not distinguished. Even Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo begat Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, a film notable mostly because its director, Mike Bigelow—who either a) had an incredibly coincidental name, or b) was hired only because Rob Schneider thought it was funny, or c) was an alias submitted to the D.G.A. because nobody wanted their name on this turd—never worked again. It was also notable for Sony Pictures staging a promotional “Man-Whore of the Year” contest in Las Vegas. Alas, it was a different time, way back in… 2005.