Sasha returns with the second installment of Love in the Time of COVID: brainstorming ideas for the inevitable COVID rom-com. This time we’re figuring out the best director to put at the helm.
Alright we’re back. Carrying on the brainstorm for the inevitable COVID rom-com. Two weeks ago I shared all my ideas for critical scenes and plot points. Today I want to dig into who should direct the damn thing.
I have five finalists:
Oh boy. That’s a lot of talent! Very 2017 Warriors. Very We Are the World. I’d love to see a COVID rom-com by all of them! And over time I think we’ll get some version of one from most. But who is the choice for this hypothetical, yet inevitable flick…? Choices, choices. Let’s see who we’re working with:
Judd Apatow – age 52, 5’10”
Best seasons movies: The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People, Trainwreck
You know, what can I say. It’s Judd. If you’re 25-40, he’s like the quirky Jewish uncle you see on holidays who can compare Mel Brooks to Picasso, but will also smoke a joint with you when the other adults start tapping out. 40-Year-Old-Virgin came out 15 years ago for goodness sake! Apatow’s been with us just as long as LeBron. I think he’d find great people for this. He’s probably Hollywood’s best GM, launching the careers of Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill, Lena Dunham, Amy Schumer, and most recently fixing his star-making gaze on Pete Davidson.
His characters always have a charming blend of perfectly human flaws mixed with hammed up traits. I know he always shoots a ton of non-scripted footage and I think this projects lends itself perfectly to that. I see a lot of room for improv with the social distanced dating scenes and miscommunications over Zoom—one character accidentally turns on their Zoom while changing, or fails to mute when their therapist calls.
Uncle Judd. He’s a pro. He’s like signing Giannis; you can lock in 50 wins and if things break right, we’re making the best comedy of the year.
Woody Allen – age 84, 5’5”
Best movies: Annie Hall, Match Point, Midnight in Paris, Blue Jasmine
The Godfather. The comedy OG. Felt like he deserved a spot here for legacy reasons. Honestly felt like he deserved a spot here for current performance reasons! Midnight in Paris remains just one of my favorite movies. That movie, the music, it is just as magical as the midnight carriage that whisks Owen Wilson into the 1920s night.
I mean this goes without saying, but Woody has it. The writing, the characters, the pacing, the use of weaving and interlocking story lines, its sublime. I see him balancing the pod betrayal (see the last post) or the mask mishap with the same poise and precision he exacted with Alex Baldwin’s affair in Blue Jasmine.
The Allen rom-com would be brisk, smooth, and filled with poignant satire on our government’s handling of this pandemic. I think he could humanize the pandemic while capturing two people’s charged longing to connect as a result of the challenges it poses.
Olivia Wilde – age 36, 5’7”
Best movies: Booksmart
Did everyone see Booksmart from last year? No? Okay, go change that. That movie was SUCH a refreshing take on the high school comedy. Adored it. And the star behind it, Olivia Wilde, was rewarded with a future female-centric Marvel movie! 😍 Oh sweet lord, can’t wait.
Much like Molly and Amy, I believe Wilde would craft two leads that feel of this moment. Two characters who we would believe in and relate to their handling of this unsolvable situation.
Adam McKay – age , 6’5” (??!!?!)
Best movies: Anchorman, Step Brothers, The Big Short
I didn’t realize this, but McKay hasn’t really done rom-coms… Unless you call Anchorman 2 a rom-com? But this guy is just the f**king king! I literally can’t believe the director of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby threw down The Big Short and then VICE. Damn, that’s range. The Big Short is truly a masterpiece. I still can’t believe he transformed the 2008 housing crisis into a cohesive and gripping movie. And hey, Vice is good! Go see Vice! (And on that note, two middle fingers right to Dick Cheney.)
Is he a rom-com maestro the likes of Allen and Apatow? No. But does he make funny as hell movies? Yes. And hey, I wasn’t totally picturing it, but we can find a place for Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Steve Carell, and the rest of the crew here. Let’s go.
Paul Feig – age 58, 6’0”
Best movies: Bridesmaids
Oh man, I thought Feig had more on the resume when I made my list. Did we decide we’re in on Ghostbusters? I actually did see A Simple Favor, it was… good. (Is the tone I’m saying that with coming through?) But holy the-fight-scenes-in-Marriage-Story was Bridesmaids fantastic. I mean, good lord! The maid-of-honor speech scene with Byrne and Wiig…the airplane scene…the dress trying scene for crying out loud. 🤦 Paul you got more in the tank. If he made that, there has to be more in the tank, right?
Decision time: To keep it 100, I think the director who can capture and satirize the incomprehensible time we’re living through the best is Woody Allen. I think he’s such a deeply gifted storyteller and this tale has a long tail. But after the sexual harassment accusations, can’t back him. So Woody Allen.
Then it seems like the sensible move is to pass the MJ to LeBron torch from Allen to Apatow. Hell Bron’s been in an Apatow movie (and was great)! But guys, in 2009 Apatow directed the undeniable Funny People and since then he’s put out Trainwreck and The King Of Staten Island. Now I like those movies! Don’t get me wrong. But do they live up to his iconic work from the first decade of the century? You know… Are his best days behind him? I don’t think so, I hope not! But maybe we can find someone who’s star is definitively still rising? Judd Apatow.
Paul Feig – Bridesmaids is honestly probably my favorite movie from all these director’s catalogs. But on balance, he followed it up with The Heat and Spy…
Adam McKay – I’d love to get McKay. McKay’s the man. But after The Big Short and then Vice, I feel like he’s probably booked adapting War and Peace.
Guys, I’m going with Olivia Wilde. I want her behind the imaginary-hypothetical-inevitable-definitive COVID rom-com. In the words of Jaime Ospina during my interview with him, “a new dawning is coming.” Whatever is going to happen, however the future may unfold, I want the artists who help us process it to be molded from it. I think the only way to meet this dawning is with new voices. Olivia Wilde is one of those people. She’s fresh, she’s current. Casting my ballot for change.