Steve Carell stars in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Universal

Filmgoers looking for an alternative to Oscar-friendly releases like "The Hobbit" and "Les Misérables" are in luck. Judd Apatow's latest film, "This Is 40," is set to hit theaters. The "Knocked Up" spinoff centers on a married couple (Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann) who are struggling to keep their relationship exciting.

Since writing "Freaks and Geeks," which has acquired a cult following, Apatow has directed and produced some of the greatest comedies of the 21st century.

Here's a look back at his five best films.

5) "Superbad"

Apatow's Role: Producer

Plot: Two best friends (Jonah Hill and Michael Cera) are determined to make their last few months of high school count.

Why We Love It: The 2007 film has been credited with updating teen comedies. It also features Hill's breakout role and a memorable turn from a then-unknown Emma Stone.

Box Office Gross: $121 million.

Notable Cameo: Danny McBride

Memorable Quote: "He is the sweetest guy. Have you ever looked into his eyes? It was like the first time I heard the Beatles."-Seth (Hill).

4) "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy"

Apatow's Role: Producer

Plot: In the 1970's, a delusional TV anchor (Will Ferrell) is appalled when a woman (Christina Applegate) is hired to join his news team.

Why We Love It: The film, which is arguably Apatow's most quotable, includes a perfectly cast ensemble that includes Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and Fred Willard.

Notable Cameos: Tim Robbins, Seth Rogen, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson and Owen Wilson.

Memorable Quote: "Ladies and gentlemen, can I please have your attention. I've just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story. I need all of you, to stop what you're doing and listen…. Cannonball!" -Ron (Ferrell) while standing on a ping board.

Box Office Gross: $90 million.

3) "Knocked Up"

Apatow's Role: Director/Writer

Plot: A promising reporter (Katherine Heigl) has a one night stand an unemployed stoner (Seth Rogen) and later discovers she is pregnant with his child.

Why We Love It: Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann are hilarious as a bitter longtime couple in the 2007 hit while Jonah Hill, Jason Segel and Kristen Wiig make the most of their minor roles.

Notable Cameos: James Franco, B.J. Novak, Ryan Seacrest and Adam Scott.

Memorable Quote: "Marriage is like a tense, unfunny version of 'Everybody Loves Raymond,' only it doesn't last 22 minutes. It lasts forever."-Pete (Rudd).

Box Office Gross: $148 million.

2) "Bridesmaids"

Apatow's Role: Producer

Plot: Kristen Wiig stars as a down-on-her-luck single woman who is asked to be a bridesmaid at her best friend's (Maya Rudolph) over-the-top wedding.

Why We Love It: The 2010 comedy made stars out of Rebel Wilson and Melissa McCarthy (who earned an Oscar nomination for her performance) and proved that profanity-laced female-driven comedies could score at the box office. "Bridesmaids" is also the highest grossing film that Apatow (who served as the film's producer) has been involved in to date.

Box Office Gross: $169 million.

Notable Cameo: Wilson Phillips

Memorable Quote: "You read my diary?"-Annie (Wiig)

"At first I did not know it was your diary, I thought it was a very sad handwritten book."-Brynn (Wilson)

1) The 40-Year-Old Virgin

Apatow's Role: Director/Writer

Plot: With the help of his friends, a socially withdrawn loner (Steve Carell) attempts to lose his virginity at the age of 40.

Why We Love It: "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," which made Carell a household name, emerged as a pop culture phenomenon in 2005. A vulgar comedy with heart, the film features great performances from Rudd, Rogan and a gaggle of funny women, including Leslie Mann, Elizabeth Banks and Jane Lynch.

Box Office Gross: $109 million

Notable Cameos: Jonah Hill, Mindy Kaling

Memorable Quote: "Yeeeeoooooow, Kelly Clarkson!" -Andy (Carell) during a waxing session.

So will "This is 40" rank among Apatow's best? Find out when the film debuts on Dec. 21.