As I was perusing the new DVD offerings for this Tuesday, the dismal selection* forced me to look to the week ahead where I found the one glimmer of hope, the chink of sunlight through the blinds: KNOCKED UP. I'm sure by now you have seen KNOCKED UP and realize that it belongs in the canon of great Judd Apatow films along with ANCHORMAN: THE LEGEND OF RON BURGUNDY and THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN. I could talk for days about how much I love those movies, and I'm tempted to, but I won't. Instead, I choose to encourage you to put Apatow's fabulous TV show FREAKS AND GEEKS on your queue.
FREAKS AND GEEKS only survived part of one season (1999-2000), most definitely a premature death which follows in the grand tradition of TV shows that are actually good (like MY SO-CALLED LIFE and ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT) but taken from us too soon. Twelve episodes aired but 18 are available on DVD. The show's charm and likeability and realistic angst made the show a cult classic. A letter-writing campaign couldn't save it, but many of the show's biggest fans didn't even see it when it was actually on (including me. I watched it when I had a nasty winter cold the last week of Christmas vacation this year). Especially charming and loveable is a brunette Linda Cardellini (known now for her role as Sam on ER) as the main character who transcends geek and freak as she hovers between the two. Her little brother Sam (John Francis Daley) is definitely a geek, and Busy Philipps (now also on ER) is featured as troubled girl freak Kim, plagued with a nasty homelife and a bad temper. Seth Rogen (a regular player in Apatow's films) and Jason Segel (HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER) round out the cast of high school misfits. Even Rachida Jones appears in a few episodes as Karen (not to be confused with Karen Filippelli), a small but seriously scary scrapper.
For me, the attraction to FREAKS AND GEEKS is with the main character, Lindsay. Her quest to find her path is universally human, which is why one doesn't have to be in high school to appreciate FREAKS AND GEEKS. She worries her parents and causes friction in the family as she turns her back on her mathlete self and begins to wear an army jacket and hang out with slackers and weirdos. While I was never mathlete material, I can connect on an emotional level with Lindsay and now, as an adult, I can begin to understand the concern my own parents must have felt when they saw me not "living up to my potential" and hanging out with a more unsavory crowd. In 10th grade, weekends were sleepovers at my friends' houses where the worst things we came up with to do included watching SIXTEEN CANDLES repeatedly and making grasshoppers with just enough crème de menthe to make the ice cream slightly green. But suddenly in 11th grade, I was staying out past curfew, or sneaking out again after returning home at curfew and dating guys with beat-up pickup trucks and leather jackets. New laws were laid down and stricter rules enacted.
I don't think Lindsay or I made the wrong choices, necessarily, in leaving our comfort zones and safe crowds, because it's those experiences that show us what we're made of, show us what we want and who we are, and hopefully give us tools to be effective parents ourselves.
I'd like to watch these shows with my boyfriend's son, and perhaps my own child(ren) one day, if they can open up enough to get past the funny hairstyles and weird clothes. If high school doesn't suck, I don't know what does, and anything to help out and open up the dialogue seems a great idea.
After FREAKS AND GEEKS, Apatow has continued to draw on his true to life warmth in everyday dramas and relationships. KNOCKED UP is no exception as it tracks the progress between Ben (Seth Rogen) and Alison (Katherine Hiegl), and exposes the miscommunications in a more mature relationship, the marriage of Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann). FREAKS AND GEEKS is available now, and KNOCKED UP drops Sept. 25.
*my boyfriend tells me that the car chase movie DEATH PROOF, coming out this week and starring Rosario Dawson and Kurt Russell, is not dismal.
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Semi-wholesome Midwestern girl and certified Geek Magnet offers her suggestions - often new, sometimes classic - for DVDs that are definitely queue-worthy.
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