A short, incomplete list of things Judd Apatow loves: masturbation humor, dick jokes, and stable traditional families. In his latest film, Funny People, you'll find plenty of the first two, and a lot of yearning for the third.
It's a funny movie, yes, though not as funny as his previous directorial efforts, Knocked Up and The 40 Year-Old Virgin. That, however, is partly by design: Unlike so many of the films in the subgenre he's associated with, the movie's not a straight comedy. Instead, it's an adult drama about the complicated lives of difficult people that happens to have a lot of humor mixed into it. In other words, it's like a James L. Brooks film, but with a lot more jokes about testicles.
Apatow's view of relationships comes off as a sort of retort to the Woody Allen approach to romance ("the heart wants what it wants"), in which love is not something that just happens, mystically and mysteriously, but instead something one works at, something one is committed to regardless of the whims of lust, desire, and romance. And in particular, Apatow seems to take a strong stance on the necessity and sanctity of the traditional, two-parent family.
In other words, it's a broadly socially conservative worldview. That, of course, has been discussed to death, but the more interesting thing to me is how it exists in context with the over-the-top sexual and scatological humor. Family-focused social conservatives have typically been the most outspoken opponents of explicit sexual humor, but Apatow uses it to sell a vision of the world that's relatively compatible with theirs. For Apatow, gross-out humor isn't a sign of anything wicked, it's a signal of a boyish immaturity that he seems to imply is natural but unsustainable—and best cured by gently easing into the responsibilities of adulthood.
While I'm generally not a fan of the-media-is-polluting-our-youth's-minds style outrage in any form, I do think there's a lesson here for the PTCs and other concerned social conservatives of the world who busy themselves counting—and complaining about—four letter words and exposed nipples: When it comes to culture, the important thing isn't so much what specific words are said or which images are shown as what they actually mean.