Music in the movies: the finest songs in the comedies of Judd Apatow

News Glen Chapman 20 Jun 2011 - 11:19

As Bridesmaids arrives in UK this week, Glen looks at the finest songs in its producer Judd Apatow's other hit comedies...

Judd Apatow is a dominant force in the world of movie comedies, with his work as producer and director seeing great successes over the course of his career. With the upcoming UK release of Bridesmaids, which is produced by Apatow, I thought now would be an ideal time to look at some of my favourite musical moments from the films he's been involved with.

Step Brothers: Boats ‘N Hoes
Huff 'N Doback /Prestige Worldwide (written by Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly)

This isn’t the first time that either Step Brothers or Ferrell and Reilly will be appearing in this list. It’s a film that I have a lot of love for, and one of the few to leave me unable to breathe for laughing when I saw it in the cinema.

One of the first moments we get to see the musical talents of our two stars is when they unleash this rather ace hip hop number to an audience of family and friends in a restaurant.

Such an environment may not be the ideal location for a song that features lyrics such as: “Make sure to wax, use your mom's Nair/You'll be amazed when I c*m in your hair/Pull up the anchor, cause we are leavin' dry land/Get below deck, with a d**k in your hand!”

Knocked Up: Shimmy Shimmy Ya
ODB

This rather ace number, co-written by RZA (who would later appear in Funny People), plays out at the opening of the film, as we’re introduced to Seth Rogen’s Ben Stone and his group of friends as they engage in a series of infantile antics.

Aside from the song itself being rather good, the scene it accompanies manages to put across how irresponsible and juvenile the group is, and how Ben himself isn’t exactly boyfriend or father material. The rest of the film features some fine musical moments throughout, as is common with Apatow films, but this is the one that left the biggest impression on me.

The 40 Year Old Virgin: Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In
The 5th Dimension

Perhaps the most successful of the Judd Apatow directed films, in the sense that the humour and emotional aspects of the film are balanced perfectly, The 40 Year Old Virgin features great performances from one hell of a great cast.

The film's finale features a rather wonderful post-coital dream sequence, in which the ensemble cast shed any remaining inhibitions and perform an over the top rendition of The 5th Dimension’s Aquarius.

The song itself is a medley of two songs originally written for the musical Hair, and was released by the band and became a sizable hit in 1969.

Step Brothers: Por Ti Volare
Will Ferrell

The finale of Step Brothers is something quite special indeed. We’re given hints at the talent of Will Ferrell’s Brennan Huff throughout the film, and when it’s revealed at the Catalina Wine Mixer in its full glory, it makes for great viewing. The scene some elements of sweetness that pays off a lot of what’s seen throughout the film, with some great humorous moments as well.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall: Dracula’s Lament/Inside Of You
Jason Segel

With footage of the Segel-penned Muppet movie released recently, my anticipation levels are reaching fever pitch, so I re-watched his 2008 vehicle Forgetting Sarah Marshall again, and found it to be as funny and as charming as I did on first viewing.

Another soundtrack that’s littered with fantastic sourced material, it’s a testament to Segel and the quality of his song writing skills that his contributions provide the highlights. As the heartbroken Peter Bretter, Segel must mend his broken heart and find inspiration to compose and direct his puppet musical of Dracula. It’s a fine pay-off to a sometimes crass but ultimately quite sweet comedy.

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story: Let’s Duet
John C Reilly & Angela Correa

Wayans brothers take note: this is how you do a spoof. Rather than just showing you stuff from other movies in a tedious way, Walk Hard demonstrates an understanding and love for its subject that’s sadly lacking in the vast majority of spoof movies.

It touches on familiar points from a number of major musician's lives, and forms it into a great narrative. But its real strength is in the quality of the soundtrack, which features humorous songs that are performed to a high standard, and are incredibly well written. It’s Let's Duet, a homage to Johnny Cash and June Carter, that is my highlight, which add a slightly saucy spin on Johnny and June’s duets.

The Cable Guy: Somebody to Love
Jim Carrey (written by Jefferson Airplane)

“You might recognize this song as performed by Jefferson Airplane, in a little rockumentary called Gimme Shelter, about the Rolling Stones and their nightmare at Altamont. That night the Oakland chapter of the Hell's Angels had their way. Tonight, it's my turn.”

So says Jim Carrey’s Chip Douglas, before launching into one of the finest movie karaoke moments in movie history. The movie itself was far from a hit, which is a great shame, as for me, it’s one of the finest comedies of the 90s.

A contributing factor to the negativity was, no doubt, down to the nature of Carrey’s performance, which was much darker than mass audiences had seen from him previously. For me, his performance here is up there with the best of his career, and this karaoke performance is the icing on a damn tasty cake.

Anchorman: Afternoon Delight
Will Ferrell (written by Bill Danoff)

One of the most quotable and relentlessly entertaining comedies of recent years, Anchorman is one of the finest showcases of the talents of its key cast as well as its director.

Ron Burgundy’s silky smooth voice makes him the most popular news anchor in San Diego, so when faced with explaining his feelings for co-anchor Veronica Corningstone to his closest friends and colleagues, he does so in a way that perfectly showcases said voice, as he breaks into song. Such is Burgundy’s charisma that Brian, Brick and Champ are compelled to join in. A classic comedy moment.

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