I imagine director David O. Russell is slightly miffed that his 2004, three-years-in-the-making movie about a pair of existential detectives with a pension for voyeurism, “I Heart Huckabees,” will be best remembered not for its reviews, but for his on-set flip-out on actor Lilly Tomlin.
In his tantrum, Russell let office props and expletives fly while the camera kept rolling. When the clip was posted to YouTube back in March, it almost immediately spawned a new, niche brand of fake-outtake comedy. College Humor’s The Michael Showalter Showalter was the first to post a parody, but Judd Apatow, producer of “Knocked Up” and “Superbad,” has taken the genre and filmed with it.
On the sets of his two summer box office hits, Apatow had the movies’ leads and a handful of guest stars shoot a series of faux-blow-ups, and then he posted the results to the video sharing site geared towards Hollywood’s top comedic talent, Funny or Die. ###
In terms of viewership, the clips haven’t seen Landlord numbers, but they’ve certainly drawn a crowd. It’s this moderate success, his access to top talent, and the fact that he’s currently shooting the movie “Step Brothers” with Funny or Die co-founders Will Ferrell and Adam McKay that has Apatow invested in and becoming a regular contributor to the website.
In reports last week that questioned whether Funny or Die could survive as a destination without Ferrell producing continuous hits, the business partner of the operation, Mark Kvamme, said to expect some new celebrity partners. Danny DeVito, Jenna Elfman, John C. Reilly and Bill Murray have all starred in vids for the site, but none as a sustained effort. Apatow is the ideal permanent addition.
Each new movie gives the producer incredible opportunities to create short-form content with the industry’s best actors, crew, and other resources literally at his fingertips. As I said before, some of the greatest internet entertainment was born simply out of access to the right people and tools at the right time. Apatow’s got all that and more. It’s a a perfect mixture for an invigorating elixir that’s bound to be funny.