The other worrying trend today is self-centeredness: Get more and more personal. Put a microscope on that belly button! We really want to know about the quantity, color and consistency of the lint you discover there.
Ramis, Chase and Murray would never have dreamt of doing a thinly disguised autobiography like “This Is 40.” They would have asked a) Who cares about my boring, well-heeled existence? and b) If I weren’t me, wouldn’t I hate me? These questions never occurred to Apatow because comedy today is therapy. Why storm the barricades? It’s easier to flip the channels.
Ramis and his contemporaries invented the comedy version of the ’70s dramatic antihero — the Dustin Hoffman/Jack Nicholson/Steve McQueen type.
In the dramas, the hero was invariably crushed by the system, but in the comedies the underdogs rose up, kicked out the stuffed shirts (Sgt. Hulka in “Stripes,” Judge Smails in “Caddyshack,” Greg Marmalard and Dean Wormer in “Animal House,” Peck in “Ghostbusters”) and seized power while remaining cool at all times.