With so much of the SUPERBAD hype focusing on Judd Apatow, Seth Rogan, and Michael Cera, let’s not forget the big screen return of director Greg Mottola, whose Daytrippers remains one of the under appreciated films of the mid-90s.
In the Manohla Dargis review in the NY Times, she unfairly disses Mottola’s direction:
“Given Mr. Apatow’s tendencies, it’s no surprise that the director of “Superbad,” Greg Mottola, doesn’t leave much of an imprint. Mr. Mottola, whose first and last big-screen effort was the fine 1996 comedy “The Daytrippers,” has spent much of the last decade working in network television (sometimes with Mr. Apatow) and it shows. In “Superbad,” his setups and camera work serve the characters unobtrusively, as do the homey production design and costumes.”
Dismissing his direction for having worked in television smacks of the worst kind of snobbery. As though television is bush league–and real directors bring style and flair to their big screen vision.
Nevermind that comedy requires a light touch–and too much style can muddy up with works.
That Mottola’s television credits include praiseworthy work on such groundbreaking programs as Apatow’s “Undeclared,” on unconventional programs like “Arrested Development” and Lisa Kudrow’s “The Comback.”
I find it refreshing that a filmmaker like Mottola took time to hone his craft in television where the stakes are decidedly lower than feature film. .
Whereas some indie filmmakers detour into (ego-centric?) stylistic studio quagmires (Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain any one?), many more indie fillmmakers like Mottola, Miguel Arteta, Nicole Holofcener, Michael Cuesta, Agnieszka Holland, Jim McKay have taken on television work as a means of continuing to work (often with larger budgets than their features), to work within a professional studio environment, to work with skilled actors and finally (and most importantly) refine their story telling skills.
A protégé of Steven Soderbergh (who produced Daytrippers), Mottola appears to be in it for the long haul. With a number one opening to his credit, his future looks bright.
And he avoided the bumpy (high profile) road of Kafka, King of the Hill, The Underneath, Grey’s Anatomy, and Schizopolis (a personal fave, and another of the under appreciated…)