Every week, New York magazine runs an “approval matrix” on its back page, dividing the week in pop culture along two axes: highbrow and lowbrow, and brilliant and despicable. Way out in the lowbrow/despicable quadrant last issue was the new comedy Get Him to the Greek, which depicts a music-industry ingenue’s hapless attempt to escort a hard-living rock star from London to Los Angeles — and which New York’s matrixers described, disapprovingly, as a movie “about a character who’s always getting into wacky shenanigans because he’s addicted to heroin. Ha! Ha?”
This surprisingly judgmental dismissal of what seems, at first blush, a harmless send-up of rock-star culture encapsulates the dilemma facing the Apatovian school of filmmaking — the unusual blend of raunchy slapstick and heartfelt moralism pioneered by Judd Apatow, and imitated by a slew of disciples. Having mastered the art of the crowd-pleasing blockbuster, the Apatovians clearly aspire to elevate their style into something closer to real art. But thus far, their attempts have left their audience more baffled than inspired.