If you walked out of the theater after watching Judd Apatow's R-Rated pregnancy comedy, Knocked Up, and were eagerly anticipating a semi-sequel that might not feature stars Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl... surprisingly enough, your wish may well be coming true.
Judd Apatow is writing and will direct, not merely produce, a new comedy for release in Summer 2012 that features both Paul Rudd and Mrs. Apatow (aka. Leslie Mann) as they reprise their respective roles from the filmmaker's 2007 hit.
Rudd and Mann played married couple Pete and Debbie in Knocked Up and Variety says the comedic thespians are set to repeat the trick in Apatow's next project. There's been no word yet as to whether that means Apatow is planning a sequel of sorts or if his new directorial effort will be more of a spinoff in the vein of Get Him to the Greek - in which Russel Brand reprised his role as the randy musician Aldous Snow from the Apatow-produced, but otherwise standalone feature, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
Apatow hasn't been behind the camera on a film since 2009's Funny People, which featured many a familiar face from the Apatow universe (Mann, Rogen, Jonah Hill). While that dramedy was fairly well-received by critics, its box office returns were around a third of that for Knocked Up - even with the added presence of Adam Sandler in the lead role. Whether that will influence Apatow to make his next release more of a broader jokefest that's overall lighter in tone and plot has yet to be seen.
[caption id="attachment_95160" align="aligncenter" width="570" caption="Mann, Sandler, Rogen, and Eric Bana in 'Funny People'."][/caption]
What could be dubbed the Apatow approach to comedy (i.e. lots of foul-mouthed dialogue mixed with bits of more physical, raunchy humor and sentimentality) has been the modus operandi in literally every movie released with his name attached to it. For the most part that formula has served him and his troupe of go-to actors, writers, and directors well - with a few exceptions, like the musical biopic parody Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and the Jack Black/Michael Cera collaboration, Year One.
The best pics associated with Apatow (whether he's producing or directing) have struck a nice balance between scenes that involve crude material and those that allow audience members to actually empathize with the put-upon characters. A lot of moviegoers were able to relate to Rudd and Mann's married duo in Knocked Up, as the two struggled to both care responsibly for their children and yet find time for themselves. Plus, what wife didn't understand Mann's horrified reaction at learning that her husband was not cheating on her, but had instead taken up playing fantasy sports? ;-)
Universal has set a June 1st, 2012 release date for Apatow's next, presumably adults-only comedy to hit theaters in the U.S. Stay tuned for more information, including news about whether Rogen and/or Heigl will be involved in the film in any shape or form.