Judd Apatow Reveals His Favourite Movie Ending Ever

He prefers a bittersweet ending over a straightforwardly happy one

Photo: Mark Seliger

BY Alex HudsonPublished May 14, 2024

Judd Apatow knows a thing or two about making great movies, having had a hand in a few of the most beloved films of the past 20 years as a director, writer and/or producer (as well as at least one of the worst — sorry, The Bubble!). Now Apatow has revealed the film that just might have his favourite ending of all time: James L. Brooks's 1983 tearjerker Terms of Endearment.

Spoiler alert: this story contains discussion of the endings of Terms of Endearment and Funny People.

Speaking with Mike Birbiglia on the comedian's Working It Out podcast, Apatow discussed his 2009 film Funny People. Birbiglia admitted that, while he enjoyed the film, he was initially frustrated by how it ended, but eventually realized that it was the right ending.

"When you see Terms of Endearment, Debra Winger dies at the end," Apatow pointed out. "There's something about the movie where it's so sad but then it lifts you at the end. There's this brilliant moment with Jack Nicholson where, at the end of the funeral, he takes her son and walks him to his backyard, because he's the neighbour. And he says, 'You wanna see my pool?' And for some reason, you're emotional then, but you're happy. You love people."

He said, "It's the best ending, for me, of almost any movie," pointing out that it would have been easy for the filmmakers to offer a simpler, happier ending. "But that's what's challenging," he said. "Because you're always going, 'I can always end it a certain way. I know the ending that is what makes people be so happy, skipping to their car.'"

A similar thought process went into Funny People, Apatow's movie about a fraught relationship between comedians, one of whom has cancer. While working on the movie, Apatow discussed the ending — which involves a pornographic joke pitch — with his friend Gary Shandling.

Apatow recalled, "I said to Shandling at the time, I go, 'Can you end a movie on that joke pitch?' And Gary goes, 'You have to!' Because that's what they would be laughing about. That's what they would be doing. That's their moment of connection, is writing stupid, dirty jokes."

Check out Apatow's appearance on Working It Out below.

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