America is a country of overgrown boys, stunted and warped, who, left to their own devices, are fit to do little more than play video games, stare at pornography, and crack jokes about genitals, flatulence, and defecation. The country’s womenfolk match men’s obnoxious behavior with a reflexive shrewishness. They are ever vexed by anxiety about their diminishing horizons and fading looks. The men need to be tamed, and the women gain purpose from the taming, marching the men through a program of self-improvement consisting of grooming, gainful employment, relinquishing their toys, and disavowing their fraternal bonds. The women laugh and coo as the men emerge, docile clowns consoled by a friendly gaggle of children to whom they can pass on their dick jokes. This is Judd Apatow’s vision of America, as realized in three self-help fables—from the unmediated crudity of The 40 Year Old Virgin, through the mock cryptoconservatism of Knocked Up, to the pseudosolemnity of Funny People. Over the last half-decade it has really struck a chord.
-Christian Lorentzen, “Dicking Around” in n+1, August 23, 2010