What tone will Judd Apatow’s 'Knocked Up' spinoff take?
Few comedies are as shrouded in secrecy as the films of Judd Apatow, who tends not to reveal plot lines or even titles until a movie is deep into production.
Apatow’s latest film –- his fourth as a director –- is no exception. He's shooting the film now in Los Angeles, with Universal planning a release next June.
What is known: The picture picks up on the characters and story line of Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann’s married couple from “Knocked Up” without really being a sequel (it's more of a spinoff; Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl aren’t starring). School and the kids are involved -- Melissa McCarthy has joined the cast as a mom at the school attended by Rudd/Mann's daughters and “Super 8” star Ryan Lee plays McCarthy's son. And the film involves three generations: Albert Brooks plays Rudd’s father.
But there’s no title (it was originally called “This Is Forty” but that’s not likely to stick) and the main drama in their marriage (in "Knocked Up" it was larger identity/autonomy issues) remains elusive.
Yet those wondering if the tone will follow in the path of a “Knocked Up” -- that is, a comedy with occasional serious moments -- or more along the lines of a dramatic comedy like “Funny People” may have some resolution: Brooks tells 24 Frames that he sees the drama and comedy getting equal weight.
"That’s where Judd’s going as he gets older, melding [drama and comedy],” Brooks said, agreeing when a reporter asks him if it was in the vein of "Funny People." “He’s developing that [balance] more as more things happen to him; he’s kicking that into his work.” (Mann is, of course, Apatow's real-life wife.)
Brooks, who starred in one of the quintessential dramatic comedies in 1987's "Broadcast News," said the balance in the new Apatow movie is often struck within a matter of seconds. “There are quite a few scenes where something very funny comes, and immediately there’s a dramatic moment that’s more ‘Isn’t that what life is?’”
Brooks is poised for a career reinvention with a turn as a ruthless gangster –- think forks in eyeballs -- opposite Ryan Gosling in the upcoming “Drive” (more on that one shortly). But the 64-year-old said this movie may pose an even greater acting challenge for him.
“Here I am playing a father of Paul Rudd, someone who's 40 years old," he quipped. "That's just really weird to me. For me that feels a lot more different than killing someone."
Photo: Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd in "Knocked Up." Credit: Universal Pictures