Posts Tagged ‘Grace Notes’

Making connections—that’s what I do. Today I’m connecting the Judd Apatow/James L. Brooks grace note concept to two films that had basically the same grace note. (If they qualify as grace notes.):

“You don’t need everyone to love you. Just a few good people.”
Charity Baily to her husband P.T. Barnum in The Greatest Showman (2017)
Written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon

“Maybe you don’t need the whole world to love you. Maybe you just need one person.”
Kermit the Frog to Miss Piggy in The Muppets (2011)
Written by Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller

To keep things in perspective remember that Robin Williams once said that basically winning an Oscar does changes your life—for about a week or so. Then everyone starts thinking about next year’s Oscar Awards.

P.S. If you know someone who used the term “grace notes” before James L. Brooks let me know.

Scott W. Smith



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“A lot of people think that my films are attempting to be moral in some way. And they usually say it as an insult. But I do think that’s probably true to some extent because I want people to be better. I want people to try to be better. And I like showing the struggle that people go through to try to make that happen. And I also like to let them get better because that’s hope. 

“If you could watch a movie about a person whose struggling and at the end they’re a better person than at the beginning it’s hope for yourself, it’s hope for the people you love, it’s hope for the human race and I do think that’s why people go to the movies.

“Sometimes it’s to see a superhero protect the earth. But other times it’s to see everyday problems reflected and to see how people deal with that. And to meet people you like and to root for them to figure something out and to evolve in some way.

“And that’s a big thing I always took from James Brooks, from his movies and his television work, is that there was always a grace note at the end of the stories. The stories would be hysterical, but a lot of the time there would be a moment that would just touch your heart.

“For instance, there’s a great episode of Taxi that I always think about. And in the episode, Louie De Palma is dating a blind woman. And the idea is that she doesn’t know that he’s not some handsome guy. And now he finds there’s going to be an operation where she’s going to get her sight back. And he’s terrified that she’s not going to love him when she sees him. And it’s very emotional and heartbreaking and a very funny episode. And then there’s the big moment where they take the bandages off and what will she do when she sees him? And she thinks he’s beautiful. And it’s very moving. And it makes you cry. It’s very touching. And then he leaves the room and one of his friends says ‘how’d it go?’ and he basically says it went great. And then he takes this ring that he got her and he says ‘I guess I got to get her a real ring.’ (Laughs) And to me that’s perfect. It’s just perfect storytelling. It got me emotionally, it touched my heart, and it has the funny, awful, edgy joke that stays true to the character. And that’s what I’m always trying to do, in some way find a James Brooks grace note.”
Writer/Director Judd Apatow
Masterclass/ Judd Apatow Teaches Comedy

If you want to track down to watch, it’s Louie and the Blind Girl from season 5, episode 19.

Here’s what I think qualifies as one of Brooks’ most well-known grace notes:

P.S. If you’re unfamiliar with the work of James L.Brooks track down his scripts for Broadcast News, As Good as It Gets, Taxi, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. That’s a good start. He’s also the creator of The Simpsons which has been on the air since 1998.

Scott W. Smith

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