Posted on Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 by Germain Lussier
Judd Apatow‘s movies all have a common thread. A person who acts younger than they should is forced to leave their youthful ways and become a grown up. Exhibits A, B, C and D are Steve Carell in The 40 Year Old Virgin, Seth Rogen in Knocked Up, Adam Sandler in Funny People and both Pete and Debbie (to a slightly lesser extent) in the upcoming This is 40. Apatow is well aware this is his thematic bread and butter.
At a recent screening of This is 40 hosted by Film Independent, the writer/director/producer whose work has had such a profound effect on comedy traced that conceit back to the first thing he ever wrote: a spec script for The Simpsons. What was it about? Read his quote after the jump.
Who wants to grow up really? It’s kind of a drag. It’s funny because the first thing I ever wrote was about that. The first thing I ever wrote was a spec episode of The Simpsons. After only five Simpsons episodes aired, I sat down and tried to write one when I was in my early twenties. And what it was about was they went to see a hypnotism show and at the hypnotism show, they made Homer think he was the same age at Bart. And then the hypnotist had a heart attack. So now Homer and Bart became best friends and they spent the rest of the show running away because Homer didn’t want responsibility and didn’t want to be brought back to his real age. So I basically copied that for every movie I’ve made since.
Being as it was a spec script, that episode never got made. Apatow didn’t even say if anyone from the show read it.
Oddly enough, while so many of today’s talented comedy writers and directors came from The Simpsons, it’s one of the few landmark shows of that time Apatow never ended up working on. He wrote for The Larry Sanders Show, The Ben Stiller Show, The Critic and then went on to create Freaks and Geeks. The rest is history. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone asked Apatow to dig up that spec script and get it made now that he’s kind of a big deal. Who wouldn’t tune in for a Judd Apatow written episode of The Simpsons?
Do you think most writer/directors can trace their cores back to an earlier piece of work like this?