By Steve Pond
LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - Three years after adding lots of new categories to align themselves more closely with the Oscars, the Critics' Choice Movie Awards have thrown all semblance of being Academy-like in the garbage and named Judd Apatow recipient of the CCMA's first Critics' Choice Louis XIII Genius Award.
The award, to be fair, goes to a man with a pretty high track record of making people laugh, with his new "This Is 40" the latest in a string of films that includes "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Knocked Up" and "Funny People."
And to be even fairer, the "Louis XIII" tag on the award is not meant to compare Apatow with the king of France between 1610 and 1643. Instead, it refers to the award's sponsor, Louis XIII cognac.
But the Apatow honor does continue a trend that the CCMA, and its parent organization, the Broadcast Film Critics Association, has been following even before the show moved from its longtime home on VH1 to the CW.
This year, the BFCA (of which I am a member) expanded the number of categories on the show to 28, with the addition of a number of areas clearly designed to honor films that the CW's viewers might actually have seen: Best Actor and Actress in an Action Movie, Best Actor and Actress in a Comedy, Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie ...
In the release announcing his award, Apatow is quoted thusly: "I am very honored and flattered that there's finally an award with a name which convinces my family I am not just a schmuck. I am a schmuck who is a genius. I am very honored that they made this mistake."
For his part, BFCA president Joey Berlin swears that the Genius part of the award's title is accurate, and he has the adjectives to prove it.
"In a stunningly brief span of time, Apatow has become a giant in Hollywood," Berlin said. "His comedy is both hysterically funny and deeply human. Judd's ability to deftly depict the humor and pathos in the well-drawn contemporary characters who populate his films produces not only hilarity but a profound empathy. It takes a true genius to pull this off - and Judd has done it over and over."
Chances are that Apatow was already planning to attend the show at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica: "This Is 40" was nominated for Best Comedy, and its stars Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann received nominations in the comedy acting categories.
Just for the record, Louis XIII was not particularly known for his keen intellect or ability to tell a joke. His Wikipedia page says he was "taciturn and suspicious," and leaned heavily on his prime minister, Cardinal Richelieu. Alexandre Dumas' "The Three Musketeers" portrays him as "a bored and sour man, dwarfed by Richelieu's intellect."
Not that Apatow is any of those things, of course.