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Knocked Up (review)

Real Reality

Americans are children.

This is the only possible conclusion to be drawn from the rave reviews being showered upon Knocked Up. It is “mature,” “honest,” “romantic,” “warm and fuzzy,” “straight from the heart,” “humane,” even — Jesus H. Christ on the pill — “family-friendly.”

I want to scream.

I need a drink.
Look: I’m not saying that writer/director Judd Apatow (The 40 Year-Old Virgin) has not given us an accurate representation of the state of modern relationships as many, perhaps most Americans experience it. It’s that he’s celebrating as charming and inevitable and amusing and sweet what anyone who is that apparently rare specimen — an actual, genuine grownup — should be decrying as deplorable.

Men are not necessarily juvenile morons even if they like to play video games. (Some women like video games too.) Women are not necessarily hormonally driven control freaks even if we burst into tears for no reason one or two days a month. (Some men are expressively emotional too.) That this even needs to be said is indicative of the horrifically low self-esteem with which just about everyone holds themselves (or so we’re supposed to believe), and the contempt with which just about everyone holds the opposite sex (or so we’re supposed to believe).

Oh, but it’s so charming, so real.

I want to puke.

Is this really how American see marriage? There’s no romance before it, obviously, if it’s “honest” and “real” how TV reporter Alison (Katherine Heigl) and full-time slacker Ben (Seth Rogen: You, Me and Dupree, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy) end up in the sack fumbling drunkenly at each other, if he’s stupid enough to think she doesn’t want him to use a condom and she’s stupid enough not to realize he isn’t wearing one. (Hello? Latex!) There’s no romance after the wedding, if it’s “honest” and “real” how Alison’s sister, Debbie (Leslie Mann), and her husband, Pete (Paul Rudd: Night at the Museum, p.s.), can barely restrain from strangling each other on a daily basis. There is no genuine romance to be found at all if men are nothing but large children who are constitutionally incapable of growing up until some woman forces them to, perhaps by announcing she’s pregnant (and why are those women sleeping with those overgrown children in the first place?). There is no genuine romance at all if women are nags who then prevent those men from being themselves. There is no geniune romance if men are merely victims of Stockholm syndrome who come to adore the captors who treat them like shit.

“I wanna rip your fucking head off because you’re so fucking stupid,” Debbie tells Pete at one point. And it’s charming, it’s real.

Why does anyone tolerate this? Why would anyone want to stay married to someone she seriously believes is fucking stupid? Why would anyone stay married to someone who speaks to him that way?

And I suppose I’m the one who’s being unrealistic about marriage.

I need to get off this planet.

Look: Alison doesn’t even want to touch Ben when she finds him in her bed the morning after their alcohol-fueled romp. If he’s really that disgusting, that much of a loser — and I’m not saying he is, except that the film casts him that way — why would she even consider having his child? A smart gal calls the clinic, gets an abortion, feels bad about it or doesn’t, and learns a lesson about not taking drunken losers home, or not having sex with anyone two hours after you meet him without a condom, a diaphragm, and the pill. If she wasn’t already smart enough to know these things before, and how the fuck could she not have been?

Of course, the word “abortion” is not uttered once here, though a couple of “bad” characters suggest “taking care of it.” A suggestion that is instantly dismissed, though it’s never really clear why. How much more icky could it be than being unable to touch the person who knocked you up in the first place?

Oh ho, but girls are silly, until they get their pregnant hooks in a guy, at which point they turn into shrieking harpies. And guys are horny dorks who are so sexually desperate they’ll debase themselves — and allow themselves to be debased by women — in exchange for regular sex. Which they won’t get anyway, the suckers, because their wives will perpetually deem them unworthy. “I buy these nice towels and he wanks into them,” Debbie says about Pete, the implication being, of course, not that masturbation is a totally appropriate bit of fun even if you’re getting plenty of action with your partner, but that he’s not getting any with his partner and what a loser he is for being frustrated by not having sex with his wife.


Paul Rudd: adorable

The twisted, demented reasoning at work in that one moment of Knocked Up makes me want to scream some more, and lunge at another drink. Who wouldn’t want to have sex with Paul Rudd? He’s adorable. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with his Pete. Debbie is simply a horror. And yet she’s supposedly representative of American women.

I’d like to let citizens of other nations know that there are at least a few American women who aren’t like that.

The problem is not that Knocked Up is “liberal” because it’s about casual sex and having a baby out of wedlock. The problem is that it is horribly conservative about embracing and enjoying an adult version of sexuality that has moved beyond dorm-room-esque groping. One night with some guy you don’t even know does not mean you must tie yourself to him for the rest of your life… unless you think that women must be punished for sex. Oh, but it’s not punishment: you get an adorable baby out of the deal! And you get to “train” a man! When Ben says something crude during their “second date,” after Alison’s decided against all reason and logic that she’s going to have the baby, she grimaces and says, “For the sake of getting to know one another, can you not talk like that?” But that’s who he is. Hearing him say this crude and juvenile thing is getting to know him. But Alison doesn’t really mean what she says. What she means is, Would he please pretend to be something he isn’t? Would he please conform to her unrealistic expectations about what he is supposed to be, instead of what he really is? (I hate this: Knocked Up is so fucked up that it’s got me defending an overgrown frat boy who should have grown the hell up years earlier.) And he will conform, because however obnoxious and insulting he can be at dinner, she’ll still be in bed with him later that evening, because she’s trying to force romance into a situation in which it doesn’t exist.

What. The. Fuck. This may be “honest” and “real,” but so is cancer and the IRS and the moldy stuff that grows in the vegetable bin of the fridge when you don’t clean it for two years. That doesn’t make it “charming” or “sweet.”

I hate that everyone is going to love this depressing stamp of approval on an absurd, juvenile status quo. I hope Alison and Ben and Debbie and Pete — and everyone who sees themselves in this movie — are all saving for their kids’ therapy, cuz they’re gonna be so seriously fucked up they’ll marry the first loser who comes along and has drunken sex with them.


MPAA: rated R for sexual content, drug use and language

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

official site | IMDb
  • http://bzero.livejournal.com BZero

    “There is no geniune romance if men are merely victims of Stockholm syndrome who come to adore the captors who treat them like shit.”

    Oh, my. I’m going to be mentally using Stockholm syndrome to explain bad-relationship “happy endings” in movies from now on. Finally, a logical explanation! *grin*

    I’m sure you’re going to get shit for this review from the trollish elements, but for what it’s worth I have to agree with all of your major points in general (tho I haven’t seen this movie specificially).

  • JoshDM

    Written like a hormonally driven control freak.

    :-)

  • Cthulhu

    Sooooo…I take it that you didn’t like the movie then???

    Maybe you’d find it more enjoyable after a second or third viewing following a full frontal lobotomy???

    ;-)

    Nope, didn’t think so…

  • http://focusedartphoto.com Scout

    I’m sure I’m going to end up loving this review way more than the movie. I found myself nodding in agreement the whole way through the review. I’ll probably find myself nodding off a third of the way into the movie… IF I even bother.

  • MaryAnn

    Oh, about nodding off during the movie: I should have mentioned that this monster is 2 hours and 9 minutes long, which is ridiculous.

  • http://www.clayj.com Clayj

    Ouch. I was thinking of going to see this movie, but now I think I’m going to pass.

  • http://www.clayj.com Clayj

    Hate to double-post, but I am wondering what you think about the (mostly positive) reviews of this movie on IMDb? Here’s the relevant text (not the reviews themselves):

    Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up is receiving far better reviews than any of the big sequels that were released in May. In fact, A.O. Scott in the New York Times calls it “an instant classic.” He writes: “The wonder of Knocked Up is that it never scolds or sneers. It is sharp but not mean, sweet but not soft, and for all its rowdy obscenity it rarely feels coarse or crude. What it does feel is honest: about love, about sex, and above all about the built-in discrepancies between what men and women expect from each other and what they are likely to get.” Joe Morgenstern’s review in the Wall Street Journal is filled with equal acclaim: “Judd Apatow’s high-density, high-intensity comedy of bad (and good) manners is a cause for celebration — the laugh lines are smart, and they come faster than you can process them. For anyone concerned about the state of mainstream films, this is also an occasion for some wonderment — at Mr. Apatow’s gift for mating the crowd-pleasing raunchiness with a generous spirit, genuine sweetness, uncommon delicacy, zestful social criticism and a moral dimension that provides substance and meaning without ever getting in the way,” Morgenstern comments. Claudia Puig in USA Today calls Apatow “the new king of comedy” and calls the movie “a perfectly tuned romantic comedy that is consistently funny, whether reveling in bawdiness or laying bare its soul.” Kyle Smith in the New York Post describes it as “a brilliant comedy disguised as a dumb one.” And Michael Booth predicts in the Denver Post: “I doubt you’ll see a funnier movie this summer than Knocked Up.”

    Do you often find your reviews to be as out-of-sync with other critics as your review of this film is? It’s not a plus or a minus, just an inquiry into what makes a professional movie critic tick.

  • MaryAnn

    I am stunned by the glowing reviews this movie is receiving. I feel like I must be an alien from another planet or something. Or maybe I saw a completely different movie. I really, really don’t get it.

    Rotten Tomatoes says I agree with the Tomatometer 78 percent of the time, so I’m not so far afield of the critical consensus in general. (Purely for comparison’s sake — and purely by picking big names off the top of my head — A.O. Scott agrees 77 percent of the time and Claudia Puig agrees 79 percent of the time, so I’m on a par with them.)

    I’m gonna go drink some more…

  • Janeane The Acerbic Goblin

    Many critics can easily overrate a film to high hell as they can trash one. A pack mentality is formed, and everyone wants to get on the bandwagon, so to speak. Luckily, Mary Ann isn’t one of them. Apatow’s previous film, The 40 Year Old Virgin, was overrated as well, and many of the reviews on amazon.com from their customers disliked the film intensely. I have a feeling that they’ll dislike this one too. It is rather bizarre the way critics are gushing all over this film.

  • http://whedonesque.org Haunt

    Good lord! I’m… well, frankly I’m stunned at the vitriol you’ve managed to regurgitate over this movie. And after I’d just fallen in love with you for loving ‘Pirates 3′ too. What a shame.

    For the love of all that’s holy, lighten up.

    (And for the record, I’m a happily married 37-year old “man-child” with a wife who is much more successful [and intelligent] than I am, and we both felt that the characters and dialogue in this were spot-on perfect. We’ve both unleashed with unnecessary profanity and over-the-top anger in the midst of really heated arguments before, and yet neither one of us feels threatened or degraded. So yup, sorry to confirm your worst fears, but this movie is actually realistic.)

  • Ervin

    I don’t know, maybe this is a completely crazy idea, but could it be that all the other critics are raving about KNOCKED UP because they GENUINELY ENJOYED THE FILM AND THOUGH IT WAS FUNNY? Just a thought.

  • Tyler

    MaryAnn, I think you did see a completely different movie. For someone who complains about the 129-minute runtime, your review reads like you walked out halfway through. (Or you mentally checked-out; too concerned with things you found “fucked up” to actually maintain even a modicum of focus on the film.) You come across as narrowly projecting your own feelings onto the filmmakers, and not even giving them a chance to tell their story – because you wanted to hear the story you wanted to hear, no exceptions. And personally, I’d take Apatow’s version over your’s any day of the week.

    I’d like to personally encourage anyone who read this review to see the movie and decide for themselves. If MaryAnn’s review has swayed you in any way, all I can offer is that I sincerely believe that she’s missed the mark and (for whatever reason) ignored a large, significant portion of what this film has to offer.

  • Moe

    But is it funny, MJ?
    You never mentioned that. You didn’t laugh or even chuckle once? Did the audience enjoy it like they did with Borat or were they bored ala Santa claus 3?

    Or did you just hate the premise too much to laugh?

  • Runster

    Is it me, or have we just not come very far since the 50′s? Conservatism, and both blunt and subliminal citicism of anything not conforming to the stereotypical “White knight saves the damsel-in-distress” scenario, is rampant, even in seemingly “liberal” movies or tv-shows, such as Sex And The City and every goddamn David E. Kelly production.

    The women may all be wellpaid, intelligent and sexy. But late at night we all know what they REALLY want. An emotionally unavailable, vapid ass****, like Mr. Big or Jon Bon freaking Jovi, to rescue them from the confusing and unrewarding life they have gotten themselves into…

    The premice seems to be, that if only some MAN could take care of them, or if they could find some “man-child” that they could force to grow up (and then take care of them),they would be so much happier, not burdening their little brains with the hardships of living in a mans world, ho ho.

    Why are (most) movies and tv-shows pretending to deal with “real life” so much stupider than the real thing?

    If you’re going to have sexism in your movies, then at least make it so excessive and obvious, that it becomes border-line parody (hello “Last Boyscout”), that way we can at least recognize it for what it is. Don’t sneak it in through the backdoor, disguised as “empowerment” or “liberalism”…

    So thank you MaryAnn, for speaking your mind about stupidity and sexism, ESPECIALLY when it is as sadly funny and entertaining as “Knocked Up”.

    (And just for the record, I’m a 28-year old single male, so please, can the “you must be having your period, little lady”-remarks).

  • MaryAnn

    The very few things I laughed at had absolutely nothing to do with the story on the whole. Like Paul Rudd marveling over the variety of chairs in the Vegas hotel room. But that was a complete throwaway. But I can’t think of a single thing that was actually connected to the story and the themes that was supposed to make me laugh that actually mad me laugh. Sorry.

    You come across as narrowly projecting your own feelings onto the filmmakers,

    Did I? Good. That’s the entire and obvious point of what I’ve written here. I think I made it perfectly plain here that it was *my* sensibilities that were offended by the film.

    Oh, and I understand that the reason that many other critics are praising the film is because they “GENUINELY ENJOYED THE FILM AND THOUGH IT WAS FUNNY.” What I don’t understand is how any adult as I understand the term to mean could enjoy the film and find it funny. I realize that this makes me weird and odd and bizarre and somehow, apparently, not part of the human race. But what was I supposed to do? Lie in my review and pretend like I got it and found it funny? What would the point of that be?

    If I’m not going to be honest here, even when I know it will make me unpopular and garner me lots of hate mail, then what the hell is the point?

  • MaryAnn

    Is it me, or have we just not come very far since the 50′s?

    It’s not just you, Runster.

  • MaryAnn

    Many critics can easily overrate a film to high hell as they can trash one. A pack mentality is formed, and everyone wants to get on the bandwagon, so to speak.

    I do think that’s true to a certain degree, but I don’t know how much that happened in this case, at least with the initial reviews. This screened fairly late, which means most critics wrote their reviews in a vacuum, having no idea what other critics would be writing. So I don’t know how much of this is an example of critical groupthink. Perhaps it’s more cultural groupthink.

  • Grundels

    heheh, idiot.

  • Runster

    Wow Grundels.
    The eloquence and grace of your responce leaves me speechless. I stand corrected, unable to retort to the pure intelligence and ambition of your arguments. You’re parents much be so proud to have raised a child so thoughtful, empathic and just plain smart…

  • Drave

    My goodness. I was trying to decide if I should see this today. I’ve seen that damned trailer dozens of times by now, and the only part of it that I still find amusing is Paul Rudd’s delivery of “Well, now!” after his wife’s “I’m just really constipated. Do you really want to?”

    I think I still might see it, out of morbid curiosity, and to see if I will object to the same things that bother you about it. But now I know to see it first, so that the rest of the movies I see today will have a good chance of being better!

  • nerdycellist

    Thank you so much for this review, Maryann. I saw this movie several months ago and was furious at its sexism and stupidity – and now even more furious that everyone is like “Oh, what a sweet movie!” (um, did they keep that silicone…anatomical prop in that scene? Did everyone see the same cut I did?)

    You articulated everything I have been too angry to articulate. This film makes every Fat-Jackass-With- Smoking-Hot-Shrew-Wife seem unbearably progressive in comparison. I felt like each character was given a point on the scale of “good” to “evil” and never moved from the beginning of the movie. Furthermore, I too don’t see what’s so wrong about playing video games or fantasy baseball, or being upset while female and pregnant. And I don’t see why not getting into a club, or having a well-meaning doofus play “fetch” with your kids is the end of the world. It might have been bearable if we ever saw the moment the two leads fell in love, but if there was ever affection, we never saw it.

    For those wondering, there were a few laughs. I thought any scene (about three, I think, out of a 2 hour movie) with Alan Tudyk as the net exec, and his snotty assistant were funny. Also, the word “gyn-ichiatrist”, the fetching (without the commentary) and the aforementioned Vegas chairs stuff. But that was pretty much it. This was a movie that I got out of work to see, and in the end, I would have preferred working.

  • Tyler

    “Did I? Good. That’s the entire and obvious point of what I’ve written here. I think I made it perfectly plain here that it was *my* sensibilities that were offended by the film.”

    I could have worded my point better … I meant to highlight the word “narrowly”. Your viewpoint is your viewpoint, but instead of broadening it for the sake of conveying a point to an audience that likely shares little in common with you personally – like most decent reviewers do for their readers – you just ranted and cursed. The only thing your “review” convinced me of is that you are a complex and conflicted person; it didn’t tell me anything about Knocked Up. Maybe if I found myself relating to the personality you clearly have on display here I’d have responded differently, and that seems manipulative to me.

    And while you are right to ask “what would the point” be of writing a glowing review for a movie you hated, it’s just as hard to see the point of you writing this diatribe and calling it a “movie review”. Which is more dishonest: writing a film review praising a film you loathe, or writing an angry, personal diary entry and passing it off as a film review, tricking those not wiley enough to know the difference, and lowering the film’s rating on Rotten Tomatoes (hardly a tragic consequence, but still) in the process?

  • Babbs

    I’m not sure what planet this reviewer is from.
    A movie with juvenile-acting men is not saying that all men are juvenile-acting adults; just that the characters in this movie are. Some men are indeed.
    Not every woman, smart and logical or not, with an unplanned pregnancy gets an abortion; many don’t. It really annoys me, a strong pro-choice activist, that you think any “smart” woman would do so. What about the word “choice” do you not understand?
    Pregnancy does indeed mess up your emotional status and leads to women sometimes saying dumb things.
    She was drunk so she didn’t notice the absence of a condom. Being drunk affects your ability to notice things like that.
    The exchanges between the married couples sound like what I hear married couples say. How nice for you if you live in a world where people make only sweet, civil comments.
    It’s clear to me that the Rogen character wanted to grow up and this gives him an opportunity to do so. It’s not so much about changing because she wanted him to, but because he was ready to. He decides without any nagging to get a job and an apartment of his own.
    This was one of the best movies I’ve seen in years — the bubble line alone was worth the ticket price — and I truly hope no one avoids the movie because of ill-informed reviews like this one.

  • Tyler

    “She was drunk so she didn’t notice the absence of a condom. Being drunk affects your ability to notice things like that.”

    Babbs – not just drunk. You forgot horny. As I remember it, really horny. Which is FUNNY, because it’s Seth Rogen!

  • http://missizzy.livejournal.com Isobel

    Babbs, okay, she didn’t get an abortion. But can’t she opt for single motherhood instead? From the way MaryAnn here describes it, that would have been preferable to putting up with the guy.
    The premise alone of this movie screams “backlash.” Someone got mad that should we women make a mistake we fortunatly now have some means to recover from it, one way or another, and wrote this script glorifying the all too traditional way of dealing with said mistake. This kind of thing has gotten worse in the past few years. I fear it will get worse still before it gets better.

  • http://www.dpsinfo.com/blog Laurie D. T. Mann

    I’m still kind of on the fence about this movie…

    I didn’t go see 40 Year-old Virgin in the theater because it did look pretty dumb. But when I caught it on TV months later, I was pretty entertained, even though the film had a few too many “eeeyyyyuuu!” moments.

    Sexism in movies bugs me to a huge degree. I wrote a love/hate review of Parenthood years ago on this very point.

    I probably agree with MaryAnn something like 80% of the time, but I sure disagree with her about the last Pirates movie (probably because I hated the second one so much).

    Still…I’m still on the fence about Knocked up.

  • Babbs

    Isobel, Alison clearly considers single parenthood — she doesn’t pressure Seth to be an involved parent and even turns down his proposal. Over time she falls for the guy, in a way that is credible. The guy does have a loveable core.
    And Tyler, yes, horny was a big part of it as well.

  • JT

    Great movie.. very sweet and smart and natural all the way through. Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann were all pitch perfect. The writing was excellent as it always is from Apatow. And I loved the James Franco cameo and everyone else from Freaks and Geeks in their supporting roles. The trip to Vegas was brilliant (loved the shout-out to Swingers).

    9/10

  • JT

    Oh, and it was great to see not one, not two, but three cast members of The Office in the movie. Awesome stuff.

  • Some Guy

    This review says way more about the reviewer than the movie being reviewed…”Debbie is simply a horror. And yet she’s supposedly representative of American women.”
    Since when do characters have to be representative of anything except the specific character being portrayed, especially in a film like this, which isn’t a political screed. Sure she was a bitch at times, but come on, women are never bitches? Right. And guys are never assholes. If movies only portrayed honest, upstanding responsible people who never made bad choices they would be very boring.

  • Giles

    I’m curious MaryAnn: You have had “Knocked Up” in the “I’m Dreading” section of your Bias-Meter for at least a week prior to your review. So why did you see it? There are movies that are currently in theaters that you have not reviewed so why did you choose to see and review this movie when you were so sure that you weren’t going to like it?

  • MBI

    You make a lot of leaps that just plain don’t make sense:

    1) Yeah, what that guy said up there about characters possibly only supposed to represent themselves;

    2) And who said the way Paul Rudd and his wife was the way it was supposed to be, or that it was at all supposed to be romantic? I think that movie was pretty upfront about being that particular marriage being horrible.

    3) Your comments on abortion are horrifying.

    4)` Who said that the chick decided she had to tie herself to Rogen just because he was the father? She decided to give it a shot, and decided she liked the guy, and she clearly does consider single motherhood a viable option. She’s with Rogen not out of obligation but because she likes him.

    At least she does allegedly. I agree with you that they completely botched the execution on this. I certainly don’t share your venom, though; I’m wondering if the depressing nature of this movie isn’t a strength. But it sure is fucking depressing, and the romance is not convincing. I liked “The Break-Up” as a “Closer”/”Little Children”-esque drama about stupid, small-minded people, much less so as the comedy it completely failed to be. Maybe “Knocked Up” can be similarly justified, as a very sad movie in disguise. There’s something very honest about Rudd’s horrible failing marriage, much less so about Rogen and Heigl’s romance.

  • Rick

    MaryAnn – 95% of the time, I love your independent urban snarky chick take on things (I’m going to be marrying just such a chick, and we both proclaimed our love of your reviews about 5 1/2 years ago via e-mail, just after we met), but this time, I think you carried some baggage into the screening, and it shows. The bit you wrote about the poster before seeing the movie more-than-hinted that your mind wasn’t exactly open going in.

    I won’t say that the movie is perfect – I agree that the language between Debbie and Peter and, to a lesser extent, Allison and Ben, was too harsh under the circumstances, and I think that Apatow still puts too much effort into creating a “big conflict” about 3/4 in (he did the same thing in FYOV). That said, I do agree with many reviewers that “Knocked Up” is, by and large, a winning combination of sweet and vulgar – it feels real, like we’re dealing with real people who, for the most part, don’t act like puppets to a script. Mistakes are made, things are said you wish could be taken back, but Judd has such clear affection for his characters that none of them come off as one-dimensional.

    Personally, as a pro-choice guy, I thought the abortion question was handled deftly – advice is sought, good and bad advice is given, and a decision is made. It doesn’t appear to have been an easy decision, but there it is. While I agree that the situation in the movie seems like the stereotypical “why would she sleep with him and, having made that mistake, decide to keep the baby and get him involved” thing, as actually depicted in the movie, you can see it happening, even if it isn’t the most plausible scenario – Ben is not portrayed as irredeemable, but as kind and generous, and Allison decides to see if she can re-find that guy.

    And that’s really the root of the issue, I think – each of the characters could, in the hands of a lesser writer/director with less affection for them, be a simple stereotype, but none of them are. Debbie seems too harsh at times, but you’re allowed to see some of the underlying fears as well. Pete seems like a good guy – relaxed, funny, decent – but we also see his fears and his awareness of his underlying issues. Ben and Allison are depicted in similar fashion, as are Ben’s roommates. Even the doorman at the club is given a more complex role than you’d expect.

    Also, to anybody who thinks this is some sort of “backlash” movie, I don’t think you could be more wrong. This movie couldn’t be more apolitical, so if you’re looking for politics in the characters’ decisions, you’re starting off on the wrong foot. There was a great in-depth piece on Judd Apatow in last weekends New York Times Magazine – reading it would give you a lot of insight into what he’s trying to do with his movies, and where the material comes from.

  • Casey Fahy

    I couldn’t agree more.

    The whole premise is like “The Handmaiden’s Tale” meets “There’s Something About Mary.”

    And I’m a guy.

  • Doa766

    I actually thought that the 40 year old virgin was almost retarded and couldn’t undertand how people found that movie good and funny, so I’n not surprised about the same thing happening with this one

    what bothers me about it is that no one considers abortion as an option, if you think is wrong, evil, a sin or disgusting that’s just fine, everyone is entitle to their opinion, but to make a movie about this matter without at least contemplating that option is just stupid

    it’s like making a movie about the war in irak without mentioning oil

  • JT

    Doa766 – Katherine Heigl’s character does consider abortion. She decides against it. You know, the whole pro-choice movement being about choice. But way to show your ignorance.

  • Patrick

    MaryAnn,

    The one thing I’ve loved about your reviews about your reviews since I began reading them 8 years ago, is your laser-sharp social commentary that you pepper into your work. While I have not seen this movie (nor plan to), I cannot vouch or condemn it, but I think you’re dead on about how fucked up things are between men and women in American culture and how romantic films reflect that. In fact, I stay away from romantic films almost all together, (unless they’re by Kevin Smith) because they always ignore what is and focus on romantic illustions than actual GENUINE love.

    If I were to make a romantic movie, it would be about my parents. After my mother had me, she developed manic-depression and had to be taken to the hospital for her own safety. She feared that my dad would leave her, but he didn’t. He stuck with her through all of it, and the two have stayed married despite challenges like that for over 30 years!

    Do you think Hollywood would make a story like that? No chance in hell. “Love costs” as Morgan Freeman said in “Se7en”. And that’s the thing Hollywood doesn’t want to show. They only want to show what’s easy for fear of alienating their audience looking for the usual escapism (not that there’s anything wrong with that in moderation). It’s a reflection of the overall sickness and superficiality that permeates our culture.

    Plus, I’d love to see a romantic comedy with Phillip Seymour Hoffman than Johnny Depp any day of the week. (Not that I’m putting down J.D. He’s cool.)

  • tinman

    Hi Mary Ann,

    Aright I haven’t seen the movie, and so the following comments are more your about review –and let me sweeten this by saying I love your reviews even when I don’t agree with them!

    Now like others on this thread, I too, having seen your bias meter pre-judging this movie and thereby anticipating some (perhaps strident) feminist personal bias (heh, you’re the one that calls it a bias meter –not that there’s anything wrong with that, or feminism either) But, I wonder if perhaps some of that cultural and wonderfully snarky pre-judgement has ruined your ability to accurately judge this movie – Perhaps, much like my everlasting hatred for Michael Bay has me dreading the upcoming Transformers movie, despite my undying love for giant robots, (well at least Spielberg is producing, so maybe theres some hope at least for that…anyway I digress)

    I think there are two points to be considered: one the underlying desirability for grown men to remain mental 13 year olds –this cultural phenoman is quite understandable given that much of society and societies vanity mirror (the movies & tv) views youthful idiocy and hip snarkiness as being the goal equivalent of personal nirvana –And Intellectual Geekdom, the subset of those young people who watch the Office and read Sci Fi & Fantasy, or good blogs like this one, and perhaps hold down meaningful jobs, too is a youthful medium – but remains Generation and list-centered instead of people centered

    Also this Geekdom has been traditionally an undeniably a male world (although that is changing steadily) –thus with the internet (porn), birth control and lax attitudes to casual sex it allows for the eternal extension of the male slacker mystique (via youtube, porn, adult swim, tv shows, Quentin Tarantino etc) we define ourselves and our friends by our best of lists and our faddish cultural obsessions.

    Yet even those of us who love the best of intellectual slackerness (if is that a word) i.e. as pontificated on by the Richard linklaters and Janine Gerrafolos of this world are also just as prone to wanting acceptance in society even as they are in creating interest based segregation – e.g. I wont listen to your opinion on dating or religion because you like Serenity more than Battlestar Galacta –

    The second point is reality – Reality is not the movies – in reality men and women do not behave the way they do because of their respective genders (*gasp) – In truth some young men even hate jackass!! Some women can’t stand to read about Tom and Kate or shop for Monolo Blanik shoes. The labels that so accurately characterize our tv and movie role models are but a small subset of the complex, adult and deep personalites we all truly have. I for one, don’t expect Italian Americans to be orgish goombas because of the Sopranos, but that does not prevent me from enjoying the writing and commentary on that show. I even suspect that P. Hilton might be a caring, and deep philosophical person at some unforeseen and physically unreachable level.

    So whats my point then? – well the intersection of these two worlds (reality and cultural) is where good art lies and worthy of well made and entertaining social commentary –It is that point that i think Judd Apatow is trying to define; the message with this movie is the same one which I think he made successfully with TFYOV and in his TV show: that our own penchant for endless labeling of people as geeks and slackers, virgins and losers, etc prevents us from appreciating the warmth and humanity that lies in all of us. His previous movie had a warmness and sweetness as well as a certain amount of reality that allowed it surpass the stupid vulgarity and crassness which he smartly used as honey to attract the core jackass-loving audience. All while slyly teaching them something about people in general– Once again the wonderfully simple but egalitarian idea that those whom we only see pigeonholed as losers, virgins and sluts are all in reality people; human beings who deserve to be given a chance and not be treated as superficial caricatures.

    Anyway, maybe I’m wrong or overreaching, but given the number of good reviews this movie is getting – I think I will give it chance and see it…

  • Danielle

    Upon first seeing the trailer for this movie, I had a feeling it would be exactly as MaryAnn reviewed it. Are other critics really saying this is an honest look at marriage and relationships? My marriage sure as hell isn’t like Debbie and Pete’s; if it was it would have been over a long time ago.

    And totally agreed on Paul Rudd’s adorableness. I wish he was in more movies that I like.

  • SC

    I love you. You’ve managed to put into words everything about this movie that has disturbed me since I first heard of it. Thank you.

  • http://theotherjoey.livejournal.com Joey

    I actually got that the movie was somewhat condemning nearly everything you seemed to think it celebrated. I don’t know if it’s my underlying cynicism or what, but I did find that the movie was pretty “honest” –relative the the typical Hollywood rom-coms (which isn’t saying much at all, of course), or at least as honest as its sitcommy format would allow.

    You’re absoluely right, Mary Ann, that Americans are children. But yeah, you are being unrealistic, if you think this movies doesn’t or shouldn’t accurately reflect (with, admittedly, a great deal of exaggeration) the way that, in relationships, people actually behave. Because most people, even people who are capable and competent in their work lives, are idiots when it comes to other people. Either blinded by the very gender dynamics your review condemns and acting out socially defined roles, or constantly struggling for something more with no way of knowing how: that’s how most people’s social lives actually are. And yes, that’s pathetic and immature but I’m not really sure what can be done about it. And your very different reaction to the movie from mine seems to me be rooted less in the movie itself than in your dismay over this cultural immaturity.

    As I saw it, Knocked Up is about trying to make life work out in spite of that. It’s extremely far from ideal, but it could be a lot worse. But maybe you’re right in that taking this cultural background as a given, the movie reinforces rather than critiques it (which is what I felt it was trying to to). I do agree with Rick in that I found nearly all the characters to be both more likable and more complex than you did (despite the fact that in real life I would probably loathe nearly all of them).

    But I agree completely that under its light sitcom veneer, Knocked Up is actually a pretty dark movie, one as cynical about relationships as anything by Paul Thomas Anderson (if nowhere near as good). But that’s postmodernity for you.

  • Mimigee

    Finally a critic who agrees with me!

  • Mimigee

    And it is wildly implausible. Of course lots of things about life are wildly implausible, but even so…

  • MaryAnn

    A few comments on a few comments:

    Giles wrote:

    I’m curious MaryAnn: You have had “Knocked Up” in the “I’m Dreading” section of your Bias-Meter for at least a week prior to your review. So why did you see it? There are movies that are currently in theaters that you have not reviewed so why did you choose to see and review this movie when you were so sure that you weren’t going to like it?

    For lots of reasons. Because I suspected that it was going to be a huge hit, and that it would illuminate some aspects of our culture, as all uge hits do. (When a movie strikes a nerve, it is because there is a nerve to be struck.) There are many other movies I suspect are going to be awful but that will not have any great impact; I ignored those, mostly, and never see them. But I don’t put movies that I don’t plan to see as an “I’m Dreading” on the Bias Meter. I don’t dread movies I don’t plan to see — I dread the movies I feel like I’m gonna have to see because they’ll make an impact but that I also suspect I will hate.

    In fact, I make a point of really trying to see the movies that I officially Dread, because I feel that I need to either justify that dreading, or explain that it was better than I thought it would be.

    MBI wrote:

    3) Your comments on abortion are horrifying.

    In what way?

    Rick wrote:

    this time, I think you carried some baggage into the screening, and it shows.

    I carry all my baggage into every movie I see. So do you. So does everyone who goes to the movies. Except maybe the Guy Pearce character from *Memento.*

    And Rick wrote further:

    I thought the abortion question was handled deftly – advice is sought, good and bad advice is given, and a decision is made.

    No, Alison has made up her mind before her mother offers her “advice.” We do not see Alison’s process of making up her mind, of thinking about this choice. The movie positions the “choice” to not have an abortion as no choice at all, as the “obvious” decision that any decent woman should make, even if her mother — whose only appearance in this film is to be the singular voice who tells her, dismissively, to “take care of it” — tells her otherwise. That is the caricature the the anti-abortion minority tries to promulgate of women who seek abortions: that it’s a simple decision to make. It is not. But you’d never know that from this film.

    Patrick says:

    I stay away from romantic films almost all together, (unless they’re by Kevin Smith) because they always ignore what is and focus on romantic illustions than actual GENUINE love.

    Yes, me too. For movies that deal with the genuine realities of romance — both easy and comfortable as well as hard and unpleasant — see *Away From Her* and *Waitress,* the name two currently in theaters.

    tinman wrote:

    I wonder if perhaps some of that cultural and wonderfully snarky pre-judgement has ruined your ability to accurately judge this movie

    I don’t think so. Because I know that there are movies I was absolutely sure I would hate — like *Talladega Nights* — that surprised me but making me love them. So I know that a movie can overcome my preconceived notions. This one didn’t.

    Joey wrote:

    yeah, you are being unrealistic, if you think this movies doesn’t or shouldn’t accurately reflect (with, admittedly, a great deal of exaggeration) the way that, in relationships, people actually behave.

    But I have NEVER said that movies shouldn’t accurate reflect reality. It’s reality I have a problem with, in this case. Is that not clear from my review?

  • Kag

    Seems to me the critic has decided the individual characters in the film should represent their genders as a whole rather than, uuummm… individual characters. Overanalysis, in my humble opinion.

  • Phil Urich

    Because I know that there are movies I was absolutely sure I would hate — like *Talladega Nights* — that surprised me but making me love them. So I know that a movie can overcome my preconceived notions.

    Or that by chance you can see a movie in a different light for a moment and the effect snowballs?

    “I carry all my baggage into every movie I see. So do you. So does everyone who goes to the movies. Except maybe the Guy Pearce character from *Memento.*

    Which calls to mind a recent comic! But a more serious point is, should one really glorify that? I mean, of course people bring baggage with them to any experience, but I’m far from convinced that we should just accept that.

    I also have to say that the comments on how apparently dark it is have me actually curious to see the movie firsthand now, whereas before it was on my “it’s so damn popular I don’t need to try and there’s no need to fight it, I’ll end up seeing it eventually one way or another” list.

  • Tyler

    I just went to see it again, with about seven friends. Just as funny the second time around as it was the first. I remember least 20 big laughs, shared by the whole theatre, probably more – it really is funny the whole way through. And I still think this review completely missed the mark. Which – SHOCKER – happens all the time whenever someone is quick to judge.

  • Signal30

    Thank you for not drinking the Kool Aid… I now have a new go-to source for movie reviews (it helped that you liked 28 WEEKS LATER and didn’t join the SPIDER-MAN 3 lynch mob).

    My big issue with the flick is that if the polarities were reversed — some hot young dude gets his break at ESPN, goes out to celebrate and gets drunk, gets a tubby little stoner chick pregnant, then has to figure out what his real priorities are — it would never have been given a greenlight. And even if it did, no one would go see it.

    Well, that and the suspicion that it’ll follow the typical romcom (as it is today) template: the dude and his boorish bros behaving badly for the first hour, followed by a montage of the couple actually getting to like each other, then comes the big misunderstanding… followed by him getting his act together for her.

    And that’s pretty much all we’re gonna get as far as multiplex comedies for the next few years after this hits big.

    PS: BUG plays better if approached as black comedy. Take it where you can find it, anymore.

  • Julie

    I loved this review. I actually can’t provide any insight on the film, I haven’t seen it–I just like what you had to say in general. I know they are advertising this with the precursor, “From the director of the 40 year old virgin.” But, I hated that movie. Everyone thought it was “endearing” and “charming” and all I could think was, ‘wait, haven’t we seen all of these scenarios and heard these same penis and vagina jokes hundreds of times before?’ Did no one else catch that? I think I’ll be skipping this one anyway, but your review was a great read in itself.

  • diane

    THANK YOU for pointing out the misogynist and sexist attitutes about women (and men) that exist is this movie! I’m not surprised a lot of the posters had a problem with you having a point of view that’s different from other critics. Especially when it comes to pointing out the anti-women sentiments that are sadly accepted and even expected in movies such as this.

    I’ve seen far too many movies lately where people rave about “how true, how real, etc.” and all I see are the same tired sexist roles assigned to the women and men in these movies. It’s pathetic, not progressive. And softening it with good or clever writing doesn’t take away that it’s still there.

    It’s amazing that in this movie, this young, thin, beautful woman, with a good job, has no real female friends. It’s like she lived in isolation–no friends, no other men in her life, etc.. until this man cums along. I mean, there’s apparently some awful women who she hasn’t seen in months, and that’s supposed to fill the girlfriend void for us as viewers. There are no friend’s who really care about her that she can talk seriously about this awful situation she’s in. Well..I guess because in “real” life, she would’ve had an abortion and learned not to have drunken unprotected sex with strangers.

    I love how abortion is framed in these moves. They claim it’s the woman’s choice and she just chose not to have one. Gee, as opposed to all those other movies where the woman chooses too have one? Can I have the titles of those movies please? Cos outside of the sitcom Maude in the 70s, I don’t see anyone who “chooses” to have an abortion in the movies. Yeah..some choice, it’s shown as an “option” when really it’s not an option at all.

    I read a good review of this movie on some blog from a guy who thought that the filmaker hated women. That the filmmaker’s point of view in this film is that “women are to be pretty, are only good for having sex with and to make babies. The girl’s mother is set up to be the countercount to the abortion decision by suggesting she have one. And by-gum, that’s all the girl needs to hear in rebellion to her mom! Score one for hating the mother in law to be! And then there is that scene at the birth where the guy yells at the girl’s sister to leave the birth, saying she didn’t belong there! Score two for hating sister bonding! And, pretty much, the girl has no friends, except for the bitches that guys imagine a girls’ friends are! Score three for hating friends who might possibly find you lacking! Gee, there aren’t any women allowed to get close to the girl. The deck is stacked!”

    So to me, this is just another in a long line of “current” “modern” “real” films which have all the modernity and reality, as was already pointed out, of the 1950s!

  • MaryAnn

    Seems to me the critic has decided the individual characters in the film should represent their genders as a whole rather than, uuummm… individual characters.

    Seems to me the *film* does that…

    of course people bring baggage with them to any experience, but I’m far from convinced that we should just accept that.

    I don’t know where this idea came from that film criticism — or any kind of arts criticism — is supposed to be “objective.” Objectivity is possible only when dealing with fact. Criticism is about opinion. An objective film “review” can deal only with facts such as which actors appear in the film, what the running time is, where the film was shot, stuff like that. The moment commentary on a film deviates from that is the moment objectivity becomes impossible. I really don’t understand why so many people fail to grasp this.

    It’s funny, though, how the only reviews that are deemed to be not “objective” enough are the ones that the reader disagrees with. I have NEVER gotten an email or a comment on a review from a reader who agreed with my take on a film but complained that I nevertheless was not being “objective” enough in my approach.

    I just went to see it again, with about seven friends. Just as funny the second time around as it was the first. I remember least 20 big laughs, shared by the whole theatre, probably more – it really is funny the whole way through. And I still think this review completely missed the mark. Which – SHOCKER – happens all the time whenever someone is quick to judge.

    But you’ve “judged” the film, too. How come your judgment isn’t too “quick”?

  • Tyler

    On abortion: Why is it that if Alison Scott (Heigl’s character) personally does not believe that abortion is an option, then that MUST mean that this is Judd Apatow’s vision for the world? Why does the character of Alison have to have some political significance, as if she’s meant to represent a viewpoint or to represent society in some fashion? She’s just a character, one that is actually quite likable despite her flaws. She’s not there to represent anything, although I’m sure some of her traits are borrowed from women close to Apatow, such as his wife, Leslie Mann (who plays Debbie in the film).

    If this movie is political to you, it’s because you are forcing it to be. And worst of all, you’re blowing abortion up into this huge thing like it should have been the film’s chief concern, when the big issue is actually SO MUCH greater: responsibility, to yourself and to your family. (And the movie is infinitely better for recognizing this seemingly simple truth.)

    And by the way, I thought the scene where Alison calls Ben to tell him she’s keeping the baby was very effective. MaryAnn says that “a couple of ‘bad’ characters” suggest having the situation “taken care of”, but she is totally wrong. Of those two characters, Jonah (one of Ben’s friends and roommates) is in no way depicted as a “bad” guy. All of the secondary cast felt like real people to me (and everyone I saw it with), and Jonah is no exception. The way he feels about abortion is just that: the way he feels. (If you MUST politicize this scene, I suppose that maybe the point of the scene is that men really have no place in the decision – something which Ben must realize, since he lets Alison decide and neglects to comment when Jonah brings it up, even deciding to leave the room.) As for Alison’s mother, I feel the same way as I do about Jonah: she’s a real person, and she has strong feelings on the subject; as she should, since it directly affects the whole family! And anyone who has ever talked to their parents concerning a difficult problem or issue knows that even well-meaning, loving parents can give really shitty, even heartless advice. What Alison’s mother says doesn’t make her “bad”; if you think it does, that’s a lousy judgment call on your part.

    SPOILER: If you stick around, at the end, there’s a quick moment where we see Alison’s mom with grandchild, and she couldn’t be happier. You might be tempted to spin that, too, as though Apatow put it in there to say, “See? Even people who want you to get an abortion don’t REALLY want you to.” But I’ll say it again: the movie is not an argument about abortion. Just like life isn’t all about arguing these issues … unless you make it that way. Your loss. END SPOILER.

    Finally, I’ll add this: A.O. Scott’s review states that Knocked Up doesn’t preach. MaryAnn would have you think it does…by preaching to you about it.

  • MaryAnn

    What Alison’s mother says doesn’t make her “bad”; if you think it does, that’s a lousy judgment call on your part.

    This one snide comment about Alison “taking care of” her “problem” is the total extent of her mother’s appearance in the film. She is not a character: she is this one comment.

    Finally, I’ll add this: A.O. Scott’s review states that Knocked Up doesn’t preach. MaryAnn would have you think it does…by preaching to you about it.

    Well, heaven forbid I should disappoint A.O. Scott, or disagree with him.

  • LARRY KEVIN ROBERTS

    I SINCERELY APPRECIATE YOUR THOUGHTFUL ANALYSIS OF THIS REDICULOUSLY OVERRATED MOVIE. EVEN ONE VIEWING OF THE TRAILER HAD ME SQUIRMING AND REACHING FOR A BARF BAG. IF PEOPLE FLOCK TO CRAP LIKE THIS, IT TRULY HIGHLIGHTS THE SUCCESS OF OUR CULTURE IN THE ”DUMBING-DOWN” OF AMERICA. YOUR REVIEW WAS SPOT-ON. L K R IN PALM SPRINGS.

  • dave

    It’s telling that the majority of comments that overwhelmingly agree with MaryAnn come from people who haven’t seen the movie, but just happen to agree with the cultural criticism with which she peppered her review.

    Please don’t judge this excellent film based on sentiments about American culture that you might happen to share with MaryAnn. Although some of these insights might be true on a broad scale, her application of them to Knocked Up is pretty off-base.

    As others have said, the film doesn’t revel in the “immature nerd”/”domineering bitch” stereotypes; it challenges them.

    When we meet Ben, he’s fun, but a social disaster – a nightmarish suitor; we see this change gradually and in a fairly realistic way. You know all of those Adam Sandler movies that don’t bother to explain the attraction that gorgeous women seem to have for Sandler’s man-child of the moment? This is the antidote to that. This attempts to explain what happens when the woman is linked to the man-child by something stronger than plot contrivance and makes a case for the man-child actually bothering to grow up for her.

    When we meet Debbie (who fits the nasty stereotype more than Allison), she’s almost entirely unsympathetic. As we continue to see her interactions with Pete, we see why she’s the way she is and get a glimpse of the lonely, aging woman who really just wants to feel a real connection with her husband.

    These aren’t cut-outs, and I don’t believe they’re meant to be representative any more than any of the characters on Freaks and Geeks were outright archetypes – just as these characters do, Apatow’s earlier creations were complex and layered.

    As for the efficiency with which the idea of abortion is dismissed, consider that abortion is a private decision, not something determined by committee. The fact that we don’t see Allison discussing this at length suggests that the decision is her own, quite a strong pro-choice sentiment, I’d say. And what would the filmic alternative be, anyway? A bunch of shots of Allison looking distraught and pensive?

  • Neil G

    Most of the plot points that you complain about arrive because the movie is a comedy. If Allison opts for an abortion, that’s pretty much the end of the movie. I’m pro-abortion (I hate the pro-life/pro-choice euphemisms) but if she spends much time agonizing over it, pros/cons blah blah then we get an abortions-rights discussion piece, not a comedy. If she elects to outright dump the schlub, then again, no movie. If the one-night stand is some sort of ideal man, where’s the conflict that makes for comedy? Where’s the character arc that underlies it?

    I get that the stupidity or morality of characters’ actions can get you so pissed that you can’t enjoy the movie, and that’s clearly what happened for you. But who would fork over $10 to be bored by a bunch of people politely making correct life choices?

  • Alan Cerny

    This is a terrible review. I imagine the writer, hands moving furiously, knocking over lamps and vases in her need, her absolute need, to get this out. In the ensuing hand tremors, she manages to kill the cat and almost pokes out her eye.

    I thought KNOCKED UP was a wonderful, funny, heartfelt film, and my personal favorite of the year. The distance between this review and actual reality could not be traveled if you had a Monolith, Dave Bowman, and a Discovery pod.

  • Brandon

    I don’t agree with you but I see your point. Quickly though, did you laugh at all? I mean seriously, the beard bet? How do you write a review and not mention that once?

  • Jennifer

    “But a more serious point is, should one really glorify that? I mean, of course people bring baggage with them to any experience, but I’m far from convinced that we should just accept that.”

    What, you think we shouldn’t glorify the fact that we’re all individuals, with our own thought processes, and inisights, and weirdnesses? There’s no such thing as an objective opinion, and I think that’s something to celebrate, not deny.

  • cuser

    I will start by saying this: I have seen the movie, and yes, I loved it. But I was interested in reading a dissenting opinion, so I read your review. After I finished it something bothered me about it as a whole, but I couldn’t figure out what. Then I began to read the comments and posts below and something stuck out. There are a large number of posters agreeing with your review…without ever having seen the movie! How is that possible? Well, when it isn’t the movie, as much as it is culture, that you end up reviewing, it is possible.
    Your review reads like a blog post or a newspaper editorial, not a movie review. And if this were a blog post or newspaper editorial you would be completely justified in using a movie as a springboard for voicing distaste at current cultural attitudes or events. However, this was billed as a movie review and very little of what you wrote fits the billing.
    My understanding is that you found many of the concepts and events sexist and ridiculous. That is fine, but there is more to almost any movie than its general attitude. What did you think of the acting, editing, timing (in terms of comedy)? What you present us with is criticism of a society you see portrayed in a movie rather than criticism of that actual movie. Admittedly, I think your opinion of the society portrayed in the movie is important, but so are many other things, which you ignore completely. It seems you were unable to get past the premise of the movie in the first place and, while that may be fine for you, you do a disservice to those readers who turn to movie reviews for movie advice and not social commentary.

  • cuser

    PS Much is being made of the abortion issue on this board and I think it was misread in the movies by some. Between FYOV and Knocked Up it seems Apatow takes sex very seriously. His movies may be very liberal in their language and subject matter, but it seems the power of sex has not escaped him. Was the short look at abortion “discussion” a political statement? Maybe. Or maybe Apatow knew it needed to be mentioned, but felt it wasn’t important for the story any more than that. What is apparent is his appreciation for the power and consequences sex can have. In FYOV I thought Apatow wanted us to understand that our society places too much emphasis on sex while non-sexual interaction and communication are relegated to back-burner status. And in Knocked Up Apatow addresses a very real and life changing consequence sex can have. I am a bit disturbed that quite a few people continue to wonder why Alison does not just have an abortion (not only on this board, but other places as well). I am a guy, so I can only guess at the decision, but my understanding is that having an abortion can be just as intense and life-altering as a pregnancy. If that is the case, it should not be considered with such ease. (Neither should a pregnancy, of course.)
    Apatow, it seems, is endorsing, if not a conservative view, a concerned view of sex in our society. I see someone saying that sex is not taken seriously enough and that it is not the be-all and end-all of romantic relationships. (For Pete and Debbie in Knocked Up, a lack of sex is not what is hurting their marriage.) I see someone saying that a young woman with a good job who gets pregnant unexpectedly can have the baby and probably should consider it. I see someone portraying different attitudes toward sex than most of contemporary/Hollywood culture. And as a pro-choice, anti-abstinance only education, pro-same sex marriage Democrat, I find the attitudes (and the way they are handled) refreshing.

  • Arco

    Funny. I haven’t seen it, but your review pretty much sums up the feelings me and my wife had at just watching those damn trailers!

    Another aspect that no one among the 92% positive reviews seems to mention is that damn annoying American standard of having the guy be an unattractive schlub loser, but having the girl, need I say it, be a beautimus babe!

    Not even the people cheering how ‘real’ the movie is, (because Ben is an ‘real’ unattractive schlub) stop to think for even a moment that not only is it apparently still unthinkable that the woman in a movie like this would be a female shlub, but that losers like Ben actually getting a babe like Alison, even for one night, is about as ‘real’ as Peter and Lois Griffin’s marriage!

    Also, it’s hardly original. From the Honeymooners to the Flinstones, all the way to the King of Queens and Everybody loves Raymond, it seems to be so standard no one even notices anymore! (And of course the Simpsons and pre-mentioned Family Guy)

    Sorry, but the only examples in real life I’ve seen of this kind of couple was in cases when the schlub was actually some type of rich and/or famous. (Which doesn’t plead for anyone either)

    Mary Ann, I think that sadly, the conclusion is that the average American relationship really IS this awful. And a large percentage of the people cheering this movie on are in such relationships. And they feel better when movies like this tell them that yes, it’s normal to see each other this way and treat each other like dirt. Yay, what a relief. Here they were all thinking they were simply in crap relationships. But it’s how it supposed to be!

    Hell, it’s even ‘sweet’ and ‘charming’ apparently.

  • Katie

    HAHAHA…I haven’t even seen the movie yet and I love this review. I have a feeling I’m going to be agreeing with everything you’ve said when I’m dragged to this thing by friends. *sigh* I’d much rather go see Pirates again.

  • Bob

    A very interesting review. I have had mixed reactions to both of Appatow’s films, partially because I see so much of myself in the protagonists, but am slightly offended in a reverse way. I certainly would qualify as an immature male suffering from arrested developement whose life seems not made up of events but which movies I have seen recently, although I do have a good job. And I am always put off by the fact that in these movies anyone who is not conforming to idea of domestic tranquilty (wife, kids, boring job, and clean suburban home that few of us can afford anymore) somehow just needs to meet right woman (person) to set them straight and turn them into a model citizen. Certainly people have to sacrifice in relationships, but I am not giving up my fantasy baseball teams and video games to just “grow up” and engage in the conspicious consumtion that seems to dictate married life nowadays (and I’m sure their are some marriages that aren’t about this but when will we see them on the screen). And I wouldn’t ask my wife to give up her passions either (an ideal would be a sharing of passions). If you look at the film both characters develope independantly of each other, and we don’t really see how they relate to each other, only how they intend to tackle the problem at hand. It is all about what they are giving up and not about what they share. Maybe the mysteries between two people are too difficult to catalog in two hours, but it seems nowadays few try. Instead it focuses on how the characters have to sublimate their personalities in order to do the right (and I mean that in a political sense as well) thing. That is not romance it’s sadism.

  • Chairman Kaga

    Quite seriously folks, how can you “agree wholeheartedly with this review” if you have not seen the movie? You all seem to think the opinions of those who praise the film are worthless, which is only mildly ironic…
    I think you’re all wound up interpreting this film as some sort of grand political statement when it’s actually not much more than a sex comedy along the same lines as Porky’s or Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
    Grow up and relax.

  • MaryAnn

    Dave wrote:

    You know all of those Adam Sandler movies that don’t bother to explain the attraction that gorgeous women seem to have for Sandler’s man-child of the moment? This is the antidote to that.

    In what way? Are you suggesting that an accidental pregnancy is an adequate explanation for Alison’s “attraction” to Ben?

    As for the efficiency with which the idea of abortion is dismissed, consider that abortion is a private decision, not something determined by committee. The fact that we don’t see Allison discussing this at length suggests that the decision is her own, quite a strong pro-choice sentiment, I’d say. And what would the filmic alternative be, anyway? A bunch of shots of Allison looking distraught and pensive?

    How about Alison talking it over with her female friends? Oh, wait: she doesn’t have any. And yes, perhaps she could have wrangled with the issue just a tad. You know: perhaps one of the many scenes of Ben and his friends talking about bare breasts in movies could have been cut in favor of one of Alison figuring out what to do with her pregnancy. And another thing: Has the woman never been a gynecologist before? Why is the first doctor she sees one she has never seen before?

    Neil G. wrote:

    If Allison opts for an abortion, that’s pretty much the end of the movie. If she elects to outright dump the schlub, then again, no movie. If the one-night stand is some sort of ideal man, where’s the conflict that makes for comedy? Where’s the character arc that underlies it?

    Excellent question. Where is Alison as a character? We know abosolutely nothing about her decision to have the baby. Of course she must have the baby if the plot is to continue to move forward. But that doesn’t mean it has to happen so effortlessly as it does here. More consideration and plot attention is given to the business idea of Ben and his friends for their movie Web site business, which is at best a sideline to the larger story.

    Brandon wrote:

    I don’t agree with you but I see your point. Quickly though, did you laugh at all? I mean seriously, the beard bet? How do you write a review and not mention that once?

    Please read the already posted comments before posting your own. I’ve already said that yes, I did laugh at some moments in the film. But not at any of them directly connected to the main story. And no, I didn’t find the beard bet funny. It may be “real” that some manchildren would find it hilarious that they planned to continually humilate their supposed friend for an entire year, but I did not laugh at that.

    Cuser wrote:

    Your review reads like a blog post or a newspaper editorial, not a movie review. And if this were a blog post or newspaper editorial you would be completely justified in using a movie as a springboard for voicing distaste at current cultural attitudes or events.

    I’ve been doing the same thing for 10 years here. If you don’t like it, move along. There are hundreds of film critics online to choose from. Some of them can even write.

    I am a bit disturbed that quite a few people continue to wonder why Alison does not just have an abortion (not only on this board, but other places as well). I am a guy, so I can only guess at the decision, but my understanding is that having an abortion can be just as intense and life-altering as a pregnancy. If that is the case, it should not be considered with such ease. (Neither should a pregnancy, of course.)

    Agreed. So it would have been nice to see Alison making the choice between these two intense and life-altering experiences.

    Arco wrote:

    Mary Ann, I think that sadly, the conclusion is that the average American relationship really IS this awful. And a large percentage of the people cheering this movie on are in such relationships. And they feel better when movies like this tell them that yes, it’s normal to see each other this way and treat each other like dirt. Yay, what a relief. Here they were all thinking they were simply in crap relationships. But it’s how it supposed to be!

    Bingo.

    Bob wrote:

    Certainly people have to sacrifice in relationships, but I am not giving up my fantasy baseball teams and video games to just “grow up” and engage in the conspicious consumtion that seems to dictate married life nowadays. Instead it focuses on how the characters have to sublimate their personalities in order to do the right (and I mean that in a political sense as well) thing. That is not romance it’s sadism.

    Bingo.

    Chairman Kaga wrote:

    I think you’re all wound up interpreting this film as some sort of grand political statement when it’s actually not much more than a sex comedy along the same lines as Porky’s or Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
Grow up and relax.

    If you think sex comedies don’t offer an intimate view into cultural politics, you’re deluded, Kaga. *Knocked Up* IS a grand political statement, even if the filmmakers never explicitly intended it as such.

  • Scott P.

    I am a 30-something man-child who loves movies– raunchy comedies, chick flicks, French films, & so on. My DVD collection includes The 40-Year-Year Old Virgin, Anchorman, & Talledega Nights– so you know that I was all fired up to LOVE this movie. A Judd Apatow movie with Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, the fat kid from Accepted, Marshall from my favorite TV show “How I Met Your Mother”. There’s just now way I won’t LOVE this film…

    Well, I just saw it & I didn’t even LIKE it.

    Why? Maybe because I could not actually like any of the main characters. 40-Year-Old Virgin was full of crude humor & foul language but all of the characters were very likable from beginning to end. In Knocked Up, each of the main 4 characters is likable at times & total a-holes at other times. What kind of man tells the Mother of his child to “f— off”??? What kind of woman throws her husband out when she finds out that he lied in order to sneak away to his Fantasy Baseball draft???

    Maybe all will be forgiven when “Superbad” hits the theatres. Now that looks hi-lar-ious.

  • Anand

    Hi MaryAnn, thanks a lot for posting the “REAL” review. Dont ever think of getting of this planet…the world needs women and men like you who are able to THINK HOLISTICALLY…
    I would like to list few more “REAL” and “FUNNY” scenes that you missed. I felt all of them to be gross…they should not be even covered under “R” rating…
    1. When the doctor checks the private parts of Alison for pregnancy test, he tells, you look lot like your sis

    2. Showing the private parts of Alison when she is about to deliver baby and the “F” words she uses during that

    3. When Debbie’s kid asks Ben what do people mean by calling him prick…he says, it means Penis and the kid laughs after thinking abt (god knows)penis..

    Is the private part of Alison or for the fact of any women so funny? what fun is there…can you all not give some kind of f***ing respect for the goddamn wonder of god out of which a new life comes out…

  • JT

    I hate it to break it to you Anand, but a new life comes out of a vagina, not an imaginary guy in the sky.

  • http://theotherjoey.livejournal.com Joey

    Yes, I did get from your review that that reality upsets you, but my point was that you seem to be holding that against the movie, which strikes me as slightly unfair.

    And Bob wrote:

    “That’s not romance, it’s sadism.”

    What’s the difference?

  • MaryAnn

    “That’s not romance, it’s sadism.”

    What’s the difference?

    *bangs head on desk*

  • hayley

    I totally agree with your review of the movie, after seeing it TWICE (unfortunatly) and feeling depressed after each time. The second time I went with a friend of mine and her friends and all they could say was “How cute!”, this disgusted me beyond belief! The only funny parts are the beard jokes, which were not enough to make up for this sad excuse for a comedy.

  • Mark Bayer

    Hey, MaryAnn!

    Count me in as another big fan of yours. I’ve been reading you for over 5 years and think you’re a terrific writer. You write with passion, enthusiasm and tremendous wit, and I check your site out at least 3 or 4 times a week. I happen to disagree with your views at least 70% of the time, but you articulate them well and are a lot of fun to read.

    But I’m with many of the above posters in respectfully thinking you really missed it on Knocked Up. You weren’t exactly a big fan of Judd Apatow’s previous effort, The 40 Year Old Virgin, either, but I think in both cases what he does exceptionally well is make films about overgrown adolescents who decide to grow up (Virgin’s Andy by selling his vast action figure collection, Knocked Up’s Ben by moving out, putting down the bong, and getting a real job)…not because they’re forced to, but because relationships with the women they do it for (Trish, Alison) are so much worth it that the effort isn’t a sacrifice at all but an essential step forward.

    I truly don’t get your hostility toward Debbie (wonderfully and multidimensionally played by Leslie Mann). She’s not a shrew at all, but a terribly insecure and vulnerable woman who pushes too hard because she’s not sure about her marriage, her abilities to run a home and be a mom, or whether she’s still attractive. (She is, as the doorman tells her in very direct terms, but SHE doesn’t see it.) I don’t pretend to understand women, but when she tells Pete that she feels more betrayed about his spending time away from her than if he’d had an affair, I saw how unappreciated she felt.

    And I truly don’t understand your anger that the movie lightly skips past abortion as an alternative. I’m very pro-choice, but not only do many pregnant women have the baby without endless agonizing, regardless of inconvenience, but in a recent film you rightly loved, Waitress, Jenna makes the same decision. It can even be argued that for Jenna the stakes are far higher; Alison in Knocked Up is risking a possibly inconvenient burden and a relationship with a guy she initially isn’t attracted to…but Jenna risks being stuck in a marriage to an abusive, genuinely dangerous creep that the baby could be tying her to.

    I would agree with many other posters that you were quite possibly so hostile to Knocked Up from the get-go that virtually nothing was going to get you to change your mind. And yes, I know you went into Talladega Nights with the same mindset and got pleasantly blindsided…but really, how often does THAT happen?

    Nevertheless, as mentioned before, you’re a joy to read, and I look forward to doing so (and inevitably disagreeing with you) again!

    Sincerely,
    Mark

  • http://toniokruger.blogspot.com Tonio Kruger

    I suppose I should reserve judgment on this movie until I go see it but I have yet to hear anyone come up with a convincing reason why I should pay good money to see this apart from “Well, I LIKED it. Why didn’t you?”

    Anyway, I don’t always agree with MaryAnn, but her assessment of this film sounds more realistic than the assessment of it by its defenders.

    And if that means I’m biased, well, that I’m biased.

    If the worst thing you got going on in your life right now is having to read this review with which most of you so strongly disagree, then you are indeed living a charmed life. Be grateful.

  • MaryAnn

    I don’t pretend to understand women, but when she tells Pete that she feels more betrayed about his spending time away from her than if he’d had an affair, I saw how unappreciated she felt.

    I will never in a million years understand this. I will never understand why people seem to feel that when you get married, you give up your own individuality, your own interests and friends and hobbies.

    I have less than no interest in fantasy baseball, which Pete indulges in to great melodrama in this film, but I cannot imagine being married to a man I truly loved and denying him the opportunity to pursue interests that I did not share. Of course a marriage requires *some* shared interests, but to demand that your spouse want to do *everything* together is absurd.

    That is the reality I am decrying with this film. I KNOW that MANY people give up everything when they marry, so that they CAN marry. I am saying that this is ridiculous, and that it isn’t right, and that it makes for miserable people. As this film clearly shows.

    I’m saying that if I were married to Pete, I’d be delighetd to let him go off with his little baseball friends and play fantasy sports. And that when he came home, I’d be delighted to have sex with him, and not foist him off like Debbie does. I find this movie terribly, terribly *sad* (as I did *The 40 Year-Old Virgin*), not terribly funny. But it isn’t meant to be sad, which makes it even sadder.

  • David C

    I so totally agree with you on that, MaryAnn! That’s the scariest, saddest thing I see in a lot of marriages – that somehow the creation of “a couple” must… nay, SHOULD, *desirably*, result in the annihilation of two individuals!

    But it seems like in so many cases, “letting” the other spouse pursue his/her own interests that aren’t shared can only be achieved after negotiations about as testy and tortuous as the Treaty of Potsdam talks.

  • dave

    Dave wrote:

    You know all of those Adam Sandler movies that don’t bother to explain the attraction that gorgeous women seem to have for Sandler’s man-child of the moment? This is the antidote to that.
    MaryAnn responded:
    In what way? Are you suggesting that an accidental pregnancy is an adequate explanation for Alison’s “attraction” to Ben?

    Of course not. I’m suggesting that the situation in which Ben and Allison find themselves leads to a relationship out of mutual obligation. The pregnancy may be Allison’s, but the baby is both of theirs. Ben may be a mess, but he’s not the type to skip out on this responsibility. So, no, pregnancy does not lead to attraction – it leads to a shaky relationship based on the fact that they both recognize the other’s role in bringing up the baby and at least want to give a romantic relationship a go. If you watched the movie with half an open mind, it might have occurred to you that most of the screen time was dedicated to this relationship sputtering and malfunctioning. It ultimately works because Ben overcomes his extended adolescence.

    Anyway, the difference between this and a Sandler movie is that a Sandler movie expects us to buy romantic entanglements between man-children and beautiful women with no explanation. This movie ties the man-child to the woman with a shared responsiblity, and the potential for romance emerges from there.

    As for the fellow up there who said that unattractive-looking men never end up with attractive-looking women, you need to get out more. It happens all the time. Not to mention the fact that Seth Rogen isn’t hideous by any means – he’s just average-looking. My wife thinks he’s kind of cute, in fact. And his character, after some refinement, ends up being a stand-up guy with a great sense of humor.

  • DHW

    It’s funny that most of the people that wrote in to agree with you haven’t seen the movie. …wtf

    If I were to make an assumption from your commentary, I would have to say that you must be an angry lesbian that hasn’t had a long-term relationship of any kind.

    This movie is hilarious, if you can handle the vulgarity and drug related humor. It is full of dichotomy, just like most peoples lives. There is something for everyone to relate to. Alison’s sister and brother in-law are hilarious, especially if you have ever been married. This movie is not for children, but any mature person, who has lived life a little, should find plenty of laughs throughout the entire 2 hours.

  • Keith

    I liked the review. I saw the movie last night. To couch everything else so you can make your judgments now – I like 40 Year Old Virgin and am a pro-choice, godless liberal.

    It’s impossible to reconcile the praise of the movie as “honest” with its premise. Impossible. If you’re willing to spend the next 130 minutes without that bothering you, I agree you can absolutely love this film. It is funny. There is a lot of pure improvisational joke-making to laugh at. In fact, the only reason people think the movie is “honest” is because the dialogue is mostly improv, so the characters are actually speaking in a more impromptu manner. It’s more of a presentational or psychological trick than anything, when actually reflecting on what the characters said.

    Regarding problems with the premise – wouldn’t “outrage” be a more honest take to the situation than “babies are precious?” Can’t we at least be a little critical of this, as the movie is playing itself off as more “real comedy” than “absurd-silly comedy”? Since when did being critical about a child’s origin disrespect life, as if the babe can hear you, as if you’re scarring it in real-time? How would your parents have “honestly” reacted to a situation like that when you were that age, regardless of political affiliation?

    The situation is also ripped from the Hollywood book of comical contrivances. A gorgeous 26 year old aspiring television personality in LA popping out an unemployed stoner’s kid after a one night stand, because polar opposites are HILARIOUS (the more of a loser the main character is, the more satisfying his redemption is)… that’s about as Hollywood contrived as it gets, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s not call it “honest.”

    Two categories of things made me laugh in this film. First we have pop culture jokes, which are unavoidable, and I’m not a “South Park” snob who won’t laugh at a pop culture joke that has nothing to do with plot, although I wouldn’t say Apatow is breaking new ground here by making the one-off joke about how Robin Williams is hairy.

    The other things were the token improv game idiosyncrasies used in the movie for laughs. Are Kristen Wigg’s lines funny on paper (I can’t imagine)? Were they fantastic and hilarious in the movie (yes)?

    Other than that the movie goes for joke after joke in two of the most overplayed joke threads in the last 25 years. First, haven’t we had enough pot/drug humor in movies? Isn’t that the oldest, most unoriginal trick in the book? Stoners do the darndest things – they get hungry, they act out. I think the Paul Rudd chair scene is the funniest in the movie, but it would’ve been just as funny had the two characters not been on mushrooms. Why is this movie not critically regarded as a film that’s a few redemption scenes away from a simple stoner comedy?

    Second, people that don’t have experience with kids are not good with kids, to a HILARIOUS extent (stoners have giant swords, kids shouldn’t have giant swords). There have been dozens of entire movies milking jokes from this singular idea.

    All that being said – I enjoyed the movie while I was there, but regard it less the more I think about it. That’s a decent film, but by no means a great one. There’s something to be said for Apatow’s directing to be able to pull the wool over the audience’s eyes for over two hours, if nothing else. The cast is comically gifted, almost to a fault and almost to the point where I think I could direct them to improv for two hours on a shell of an idea and come out with something shining.

  • Pharlain

    I want to thank you. Like you I’ve been feeling like a pod person. I seemed to be the only person who felt this way. I found this movie incredibly offensive. It was Idiocracy without the satire. It was a movie about the people that created the nation in Idiocracy (a movie I didn’t particularly like past the first half hour) and we’re celebrating it! As my good friend Paul puts it, it’s a movie about the cliche of marriage without the irony. I enjoy movies that accurately portray the actual state of things, but they generally offer insight, criticism, and some opportunity for change. This movie just made me want to scream. As someone who teaches teenagers Human sexuality it made me cry to think that this is what’s informing our youth on relationships and romance. There was no real responsibility or accountability in this movie. Only imagined societal rules. These people weren’t pursuing their joy in responsible ways, they were pursing slow and painful slides into mediocrity and a life of being miserable.

  • Arco

    “I would have to say that you must be an angry lesbian”

    Is that guy for real?

    No, seriously.

  • jesse

    Thanks so much for this review. This is without a doubt a funny movie but it’s message is so mired in a conservative fantasyland that I don’t think I could ever quote it (in the same way it’s protagonists joyously quote their favorite films) without feeling like a reactionary fuck. This film feels like the cinematic equivalent of a Jay Leno routine. Give us more Hicks I say!

  • adam

    It’s a comedy, there wouldn’t be a movie if she had an abortion (and if she did it would be a drama). Lighten up, Mary Ann.

    (besides, to my understanding you went into this movie expecting to hate it–you are the worst critic yet, you are bias–I kid!)

  • dave

    Jesse, I fail to see how this movie is mired in a “conservative fantasyland.” The main characters on display are a tragically uncommunicative married couple and an unmarried couple who decide to give a romantic relationship a shot (though NOT marriage, if you were paying attention) because they both recognize their respective responsibilies to the product of a one-night stand. It’s pro-responsibility, but it’s also cautionary in that we see how a marriage based solely on children can work out.

    Are you saying that the liberal version of this scenario would manifest in Allison automatically having an abortion? We’ve covered that. Abortion is not a given, even for a pro-choice individual. Or are you saying that it’s inconceivable that liberal people have drunken one-night stands that result in pregnancy?

    I guess I don’t get where you’re getting “conservative” or “reactionary” here.

    I swear some of you people don’t understand how art works – good art is not prescriptive. If the actions of the characters in this movie don’t adhere to your personal ethics and aren’t punished appropriately by your standards, that doesn’t make it “bad” (although it’s far more critical of the irresponsible characters than many of you seem capable of recognizing – Pete and Ben’s stoner buddies may be played for laughs, but they’re clearly not models to which we’re supposed to aspire). What Apatow did was take an unusual (though hardly as unbelievable as some of you seem to think it is) scenario and set loose some fairly fleshed-out, realistic, and flawed characters to deal with the consequences. Ben isn’t representative of ALL men (or all Jews or all Canadians or even all men less attractive than their mates), Allison isn’t representative of ALL women (or all blondes, all E! correspondents, or all women more attractive than their mates). What’s amazing is that Apatow is able to apply a lot of subtlety to a movie that could quite easily have been as unsubtle as a jackhammer. What’s not so amazing is that some viewers can’t get past their preconceptions to recognize that the film isn’t what is might appear to be on the surface. Your loss.

  • Sabrina

    Originally posted by Mary Ann:
    “I will never in a million years understand this. I will never understand why people seem to feel that when you get married, you give up your own individuality, your own interests and friends and hobbies.”

    YOU COMPLETELY MISSED THE POINT OF THE FILM. DEBBIE DOESN’T WANT PETE TO GIVE UP HIS HOBBIES, SHE JUST WANTS TO KNOW ABOUT THEM. IT’S CLEAR IN THE FILM THAT PETE DOENS’T COMUNNICATE TO HER ABOUT ANY OF HIS INTERESTS AND LIES TO HER IN ORDER TO DO THEM. SHOULDN’T PEOPLE ACTAULLY LIKE THEIR SPOUSE AND WANT TO DO THINGS WITH THEM? WHY BE MARRIED TO SOMEONE YOU WOUDLN’T WANT TO SHARE YOUR HOBBIES WITH?

    “I have less than no interest in fantasy baseball, which Pete indulges in to great melodrama in this film, but I cannot imagine being married to a man I truly loved and denying him the opportunity to pursue interests that I did not share. Of course a marriage requires *some* shared interests, but to demand that your spouse want to do *everything* together is absurd.”

    EVERYTHING? IT’S PRETTY CLEAR IN THE FILME THAT THEY DO NOTHING TOGETHER. DEBBIE GETTING UPSET ABOUT SPIDERMAN 3 IS BECAUSE PETE DIDN’T EVEN CONSIDER TAKING HER. WHAT KIND OF MARRAIGE IS IT WHEN YOU WOULD RATEHR GO TO A MOVIE BY YOURSELF, THAN TAKE YOUR WIFE? YOUR SOUL MATE AND BEST FRIEND? HECK, I GET ANGRY WHEN MY FRIENDS GO SEE A MOVIE WITHOUT ME. IT’S JUST SELFISH AND INCONDSIDERATE TO EXCLUDE PEOPLE IN YOUR LIFE WHO CARE ABOUT YOUAND ALL OF YOUR INTERESTS. AS PETE SAYS, “THE BIGGETS PROBLEM IN THE THE MARRIAGE IS THAT DEBBIE LOVES HIM AND WANTS TO SPEND TIME WITH HIM” AND HE RUNS AWAY FROM THAT.

    “That is the reality I am decrying with this film. I KNOW that MANY people give up everything when they marry, so that they CAN marry. I am saying that this is ridiculous, and that it isn’t right, and that it makes for miserable people. As this film clearly shows.”

    THIS FILM ISN’T SAYING THAT YOU SHOULD GIVE UP EVERYTHING FOR MARRIAGE. IT IS SAYING THAT MARRIAGE IS A COMPROMISE, AND THAT BEING HONEST AND COMMUNICATIVE IS KEY TO MAKING IT WORK. WHEN BEN TELLS DEBBIE TO GET OUT OF THE DELIVERY ROOM, HE WAS MORE HONEST IN THOSE FEW MINUTES THAN PETE HAD BEEN TO DEBBIE IN HIS WHOLE MARRIAGE.

    WHILE BEN AND ALLISON ARE COMPELTE OPPOSITES THEY TRY TO MAKE IT WORK BY ATTEMPTING TO ENJOY EACH OTHERS HOBBIES. ALLSION ATTEMPTS TO UNDERSTAND BEN’S WORLD BY HELPING HIM WITH HIS INTERNET VENTURE AND BEN ATTEMPTS TO UNDERSTAND ALLISON’S WORLD BY GETTING A DECENT JOB AND MOVING INTO AN APARTMENT — WHERE I MIGHT ADD HE DOESN’T GIVE UP ALL HIS HOBBIES, WE SEE MOVIE POSTERS AND TOYS STILL ALIGN HIS BEDROOM WALL.

    YOU COMPLETELY MISSED THE POINT OF THIS MOVIE AND YOUR COMMENTS REPLYING TO POSTS MADE TO YOUR REVIEW JUST HIGHLIGHT HOW OFF THE MARK YOU ARE.

  • dave

    I agree completely with Sabrina. But in lower-case.

  • JT

    To ‘jesse’, who thinks this movie is mired in a conservative fantasyland — from an interview with Judd Apatow:

    I am pro choice and I don’t think anyone should tell anyone else what to do with their bodies or their points of view

    How wrong can you people be?

  • Bees

    Sabrina, what the hell? Do you actually expect people to read that mess?

  • MaryAnn

    YOUR SOUL MATE AND BEST FRIEND?

    Oh man, this is sad. That anyone can see Pete and Debbie as “soul mates” and “best friends” is tragic.

    If I were to make an assumption from your commentary, I would have to say that you must be an angry lesbian that hasn’t had a long-term relationship of any kind.

    I can’t believe it took longer to get called a lesbian than it did a spinster. Hilarious.

  • dave

    Oh man, this is sad. That anyone can see Pete and Debbie as “soul mates” and “best friends” is tragic.
    ===

    Now, you’re definitely being obtuse here, but I’m not sure if it’s a conscious technique to defend your weird take on the movie or if it’s a subconscious refusal to acknowledge other points of view.

    Regardless, I thought that post was pretty obvious – she’s not saying Debbie and Pete are soulmates. In fact, it’s rather the opposite. In an ideal marriage, husband and wife are best friends/soulmates. They SHOULD want to spend time together, and what makes Debbie and Pete’s situation tragic is that Debbie sees this ideal, but can’t achieve it because Pete’s simply doesn’t have the same goal – in fact, it would appear he doesn’t know what he wants at all. They’re not soulmates and on a level, they realize this, but they can’t free themselves from the situation.

  • dave

    As for the lesbian and spinster comments, there are always a couple idiotic jackasses on every board. But you can at least be comforted by the fact that they’re outnumbered by sycophants who are willing to take your word (and praise it) on a movie they haven’t seen.

  • MaryAnn

    But you can at least be comforted by the fact that they’re outnumbered by sycophants who are willing to take your word (and praise it) on a movie they haven’t seen.

    Just FYI, I don’t find that “comforting,” though I think many of these people in this particular instance are agreeing with my cultural commentary, which does not require having seen this film to appreciate.

    And while I appreciate my readers, whether they agree with me or not, I don’t write anything hoping for their approval. I write what I feel and think. If that strikes a nerve with some readers, cool. But I don’t write what I think people want to hear.

  • Anna

    Wow. Normally your reviews are spot-on, but I am shocked at this one. I LOVED this movie, and not because it was honest or real or because I could identify with any of the characters—I couldn’t identify with ANY of them, in fact. I agree with you that it’s not particularly realistic and that none of the main characters really represent a whole lot of American reality. Like the rest of Apatow’s work, his characters are caricatures, practically cartoon-ish and unrealistic, self-deprecating and sweet, flawed and lovable. It’s not that they’re realistic, it’s that they’re believable—there’s a big difference in my mind.

    I loved this movie because it made me laugh harder than I’ve laughed in a long time, yet wasn’t devoid of plot and character development like a lot of the slapstick comedies I sneered at in the previews. The movie’s moral outlook isn’t particularly important, there are no big lessons to be learned, and I don’t think that’s the point. Why should it be? It kept me entertained while remaining smart and innovative. That isn’t good enough anymore?

  • MaryAnn

    I loved this movie because it made me laugh harder than I’ve laughed in a long time It kept me entertained while remaining smart and innovative. That isn’t good enough anymore?

    Good enough for whom?

    I did not laugh harder than I’ve laughed in a long time. I was not entertained, and did not find the movie smart and innovative. Is that the same kind of “evidence” to support my opinion as your “evidence” is to support yours?

  • Nicole

    I went to see this movie today with my best friend. I thought it was outragous to spend $14 for a piece of crap movie. Not only was the movie expensive for 2 people, but it also was only being seen by 10 people. There were parts that made me laugh, but for the most part I thought this movie was crap. I even fell asleep half way through.

  • sabrina

    Sorry for the all caps, but I don’t know html code and was trying to differentiate my words from Mary Ann’s.

    And dave clearly has reading comprehension.

  • Josh Gilchrist

    I am sorry but I have to vent about people complaining about how”unreal” and “depressing” this film is. The same arguments were dished out last year about The Break Up. I am sorry but both films bother people because they are true to life and relationships. If you can’t handle it, or don’t believe that relationships are like this, you are living out delusions of grandeur. If you want Prince Charming and the Fairy Tale, stick to Shrek or Princess Bride. This is why I liked The Break Up so much. They talked and emoted the same way most relationships do, and should. The key to that film is the two characters realizing their own faults. And what is so insane about a girl like Heigl hooking up with a guy like Rogen? It happens all the time! In fact, I am uglier than Seth Rogen and I get good looking women hitting on me. Bought time for people to grow up and realize that real life is not ‘Pretty Woman’ or ‘Runaway Bride.’

    MaryAnn, as a frequent reader of your reviews, I expected more from you. This reeks of a review of an individual who has not experienced real life and has no idea what relationships entail. I know that this is not true about you, but the review just came across as a dimwitted tirade written a superficial individual. That’s not you MaryAnn. Maybe you were just having a bad day when you watched the film. Maybe you really didn’t appreciate the film. Regardless, the review here does not really do you or your intellect justice.

  • MaryAnn

    time for people to grow up and realize that real life is not ‘Pretty Woman’ or ‘Runaway Bride.’

    It’s sad that people believe the only other option besides what is depicted in *Knocked Up* is vapid fairy tales.

  • Arco

    “I think many of these people in this particular instance are agreeing with my cultural commentary, which does not require having seen this film to appreciate.”

    Pretty much, yeah. I for one I made clear I was commenting on this article, the trailers I’ve seen, and the false logic in the cultural comments of other reviews.

    It’s interesting, but this actually reminds me of ‘There’s Something About Mary’. Another movie 90% of the population decided was the greatest thing ever, and woe be unto you if you dare have a contrary opinion.

    Some movies people can agree to have different view on, but in cases like this it’s suddenly: ‘You didn’t like this movie and I did…therefore you are wronggggg!!! And GAY!’

    Does seem to coincide with my comment on how many people take these themes rather… personal.

  • MaryAnn

    this actually reminds me of ‘There’s Something About Mary’

    Oh god, I hated that movie too. And I took a lot of shit for that, too. :->

  • Chris

    Mary Ann,

    This is going to be difficult to say, but as a reviewer, your reviews have been going downhill. I fell in love with the cutting reviews you did for Crossroads, and Tomb Raider. I agreed with plenty of your reviews since then. Increasingly, though, your fetishistic tendencies for specific actors, general geekiness, and dislike for reality invade your reviews.

    Its hard to take this as a review of the movie because its less a review of the movie than a critique of culture which the movie is merely reflecting. Having not seen the movie, I can’t judge how accurately it depicted reality, but having read your review I cannot say whether I will enjoy it or not.

    The odd thing is that, in this case, I think it was mainly because the film was told from a more male perspective. In reading your review of the dreadful horror movie, Waitress, you say the exact opposite of things you bitched about here. Not once in your review of Waitress did you ask why the girl was not going to get an abortion when she so loathed her husband, yet here it is a primary complaint. Waitress was filled with chick-flick cliches revolving around dispicable characters presented in the guise that these actions are cute and acceptable. Its cute that an abused wife is having an affair with her Ob-Gyn. Its cute that her friend is having an affair with the chef, and that her other friend is getting married to somebody whom everybody finds annoying.

    Based on this review, one suspects that if Waitress were told from a male point of view and presented as a more blockbuster comedy, one imagines that you would have hated that one too and knocked it for being sexist, and filled with all of society’s abhorable features. I’m looking forward to when you return to reviewing a film based on its merits than your cultural criticisms “observations” as a review.

  • Josh Gilchrist

    I never said no one had a right not to like the film. I also found the film to be less humorous than the cavalcade of positive reviews states it is. I did admire the film though because it is a look at real relationships. The problem with todays society is that, even though relationships are difficult, men and women still expect them to be rose colored. Marriage, and romance in general, is not a black and white issue. The problem is that men and women refuse to accept the difference between one another.

    The very interesting thing about Knocked Up is that it’s a love story about two individuals with very screwed up lives. If you thought that Alison was a well put-together woman, you missed the whole character entirely. She’s also a lost soul. Christ, she’s a woman who at the beginning of the film appears to be so afraid to be on her own that she shacks up with her sister and her family. This likely added to her attraction to Ben. It started as something that she got into because she did not want to be alone and then grew into something special.

    MaryAnn, another complaint about your review is that you complain about the films message yet you are freely forcing your own opinion of abortion into the story. My feelings on the subject aside, I still think it’s a woman’s right to choose. You saying, “A smart gal calls the clinic, gets an abortion, feels bad about it or doesn’t, and learns a lesson about not taking drunken losers home,” is just as asinine. A smart gal will way her options and then make the proper decision based on her own beliefs and abilities. I will agree that the subject of abortion could have been better in the film, but to claim that any smart woman will choose the route of abortion is ignorant.

  • David C

    Nothing in the world is sadder than a biast lesbian spinster.

  • Anna

    “My feelings on the subject aside, I still think it’s a woman’s right to choose. You saying, “A smart gal calls the clinic, gets an abortion, feels bad about it or doesn’t, and learns a lesson about not taking drunken losers home,” is just as asinine. A smart gal will way her options and then make the proper decision based on her own beliefs and abilities. I will agree that the subject of abortion could have been better in the film, but to claim that any smart woman will choose the route of abortion is ignorant.”

    Yeah, I gotta say I agree with Josh on the point that “smart” in this situation doesn’t = abortion, or = single parenthood, or = any other choice. Being smart in the situation means that the woman does in fact weigh her options and makes a choice that is HER choice, regardless of the outcome. Thank god we still live in a country where we have choices.

  • MaryAnn

    if Waitress were told from a male point of view and presented as a more blockbuster comedy

    As I’ve said before in many other instances (and as I said about *Waitress* right in that review!), it’s all about tone.

    If *Knocked Up* presents the male point of view, then it’s a pretty sorry statement on American men. One of the things I complain loudly about the film is that it’s about women forcing men to be something they’re not. And yet I’m accused of believing that romance should be “rose colored” and that my “problem is that men and women refuse to accept the difference between one another”!

    MaryAnn, another complaint about your review is that you complain about the films message yet you are freely forcing your own opinion of abortion into the story.

    Riiight. Because my soapbox is exactly equal to the soapbox of a multimillion-dollar Hollywood blockbuster. And still, I am not “forcing” any opinion on anyone. I am saying that the film gives more consideration to what crib the baby will sleep in than whether an abortion might — MIGHT — be the right decision. As Anna says above, “Being smart in the situation means that the woman does in fact weigh her options and makes a choice that is HER choice, regardless of the outcome.” It would have been nice to see just a little bit of what went into Alison’s decision. But the film treats her decision as if there were no choice to be made at all.

  • Rebecca

    Oh. MY. This review is brilliant!
    I fucking hated this movie for the smarmy, subversively conservative, small-minded, sexist, piece of self-obsessed Hollywood crap it is. I could not agree more whole heartedly with the notion that the fact it’s been receiving raves says less about the film than it does about the pathetic state of American emotional and intellectual life.
    Jokes about movies and celebrities, and about celebrities in movies, scenes of watching movies, celebrities making cameo appearances, impressions of celebrities… BARF.
    “Irrational” harpy pregant woman and bitchy, harpy neurotic wife? Yeah, those are very “real,” developed characters that I can relate to.
    Dopey, loser men feeling sorry for themselves because (after they’ve been handed capable, intelligent, responsible women who, despite all reason, love them), they can’t bear to be occasionally deprived of quality time with bongs and/or the fantasy baseball club? That’s just plain NOT INTERESTING.
    I feel incredibly sorry for Judd Apatow’s wife. How could you marry a man with such limited capacity for understanding the beautiful depth of relationships, people, and the world outside of the Valley? It’s laughable that some think this film somehow sweetly mitigates the anomie of sleepwalking, digital California culture. What it does is tell a dishonest, improbable, and simply irrelevant conservative moral tale, all while disguising it as a modest ‘tell it like it is’ family film.

  • Eric

    I hope you do leave this planet, you are miserable.

  • MaryAnn

    I hope you do leave this planet, you are miserable.

    You know, the funny thing is: I’m not miserable. Sorry to disappoint you. I’m really a pretty happy person. Perhaps because I don’t let movies like this one tell me what life is supposed to be about.

  • dave

    This movie is trying to tell you “what life is about.” Holy cow, do you not understand how art works.

    And to the post one above – why is this movie “conservative,” again? People keep throwing that term around, but have yet to demonstrate what morality this movie is supposedly espousing that’s, in any way, in line with the morality of either the religious right or libertarian-style fiscal conservativism. I don’t think GWB would find much to like about Knocked Up, frankly.

  • dave

    Sorry – the post TWO above (Rebecca’s).

  • Ken

    If Seth Rogen were Owen Wilson, this review would have been a RAVE.

  • Rebecca

    Dave,
    First of all, the word “conservative” doesn’t solely refer to ‘libertarian fiscal style’ nor the ‘religious right’, although your assumption that I meant to invoke either one or both of these connotations in using the word goes a long way to expose exactly what kind of “raving liberal” you’ve got me pegged as.
    I called the movie conservative because it promotes ‘family values’, traditional romantic relationships, sexist views of women, and as MaryAnn suggests, because it choses not to deal with abortion as a choice and a reality for women.
    Sure I can laugh at movies. Of course I recognize that sometimes movies are just supposed to be stupid, and escapist, and funny, and that’s fine. My problem is this: if you’re going to make a comedy that purports to have a greater meaning – about romance, about modern relationships, about the plight of slacker American men in their twenties – then you have a social responsibility to create whole, developed characters dealing with real problems and making conceivable (no pun intended) choices.
    When reviewers call “Knocked Up” ‘honest’ and contemporary and ‘real’ it feels like a punch in the gut to this woman… because it validates the movie’s two-dimensional portrayal of women as controlling, shrill, dependent, and incapable of making autonomous choices.

  • MBI

    Okay, so here’s my take on the whole abortion thing.

    Apatow clearly chose not to delve into this thing too deeply; I’m assuming that he knew he had to deal with it but didn’t want to make things too heavy in his light comedy. Given the brief treatment of the matter, I think the clue into what goes on in Allison’s mind is the talk with the mother. Her mother says, get the abortion and then someday you can have a “real baby”. Since that’s the last we hear on the subject, I can only assume that her mother’s bluntness has convinced her that her pregnancy also involves a “real baby,” and once she began thinking of it as such, she couldn’t decide to have an abortion. The scene, I think, marks the character, and probably Apatow as well, as pro-life on a personal level. (Which is totally not the same as pro-life on a political level.)

    I’m very on-the-fence on this movie. Pete and Debbie are by far the best part of this movie; I’ve rarely seen anything that real about the soul-sucking compromises that a relationship entails. I don’t think that the movie is endorsing that relationship either; how could it, when Heigl says straight out that she doesn’t want to end up like them?

    I think MaryAnn is wrong in saying that this movie believes that Allison and Ben need to tie themselves together because of the pregnancy. The idea that this film is selling us that this couple is together because they want to be. I don’t buy it. Allison at one point gives some perfectly sound logic for the two of them not staying together. It sounded right to me. Gave it a shot to see if it could work, it didn’t, we tried our best, see ya when I see ya. When they reconcile, it’s not that it’s unearned, but it’s given much too easily, and that’s probably why MaryAnn thinks it endorses everything it does. My interpretation is that it just pansied out and fell back on stock formula because you know, romances end with people getting together. But unlike most times when I disagree with her, I’m going to give her interpretation the benefit of a doubt because this movie is seriously muddled. One thing she’s definitely right about: Critics who call this one “romantic” or “warm” are out of their minds.

  • Chris

    If *Knocked Up* presents the male point of view, then it’s a pretty sorry statement on American men.

    You and I both know that men and women have different ways of telling stories and directing movies. Its inherent in the way men and women think differently. Knocked Up seems like it is told from a decidedly male perspective. Waitress is a decidedly female perspective. It would take a very special male to be able to make such a dispicable and cliched movie as Waitress so cutesy and adorably feminine. And, it would take a special female to be able to make a blunt comedy from the same topics as Knocked Up.

    Based on your review, Knocked Up seems a movie pointing at the behaviors of others for humor, and saying, “C’est La Vie.” But, whether or not it works at being humorous in barely mentioned amidst your diatribe against the moralities of the perceived world. You don’t say whether the people around you were laughing as you were stewing. You don’t mention that this movie is funny yet horrific in its morality.

    And, as you did indeed say in the review about Waitress, tone has much to do with it. It may come down to whether or not one wants a more realistic comedy about two people joined by an accidental baby with a life view of “What can you do? *shrug*” or a lighthearted feminine fairy tale about finding strength through infidelity to have a fairy tale ending?

  • dave

    Rebecca –

    Thanks for the answer. I don’t have you pegged as a “raving liberal” (a word of advice – you might not want to use quotes unless you’re actually quoting someone); I have you pegged as someone who’s haphazardly using the term “conservative” to charactize things you don’t like. Being just vaguely to the right of Howard Zinn, myself, I relate. But I think this particular criticism is out of place here.

    To get it out of the way, I also don’t have MaryAnn pegged as a “spinster,” “miserable,” or “needing to get laid” (as was put forth in another thread on this topic); let’s not confuse one dissenting opinion for ALL dissenting opinions.

    Anyway, let’s take a look at your application of the term “conservative”:

    1. “it promotes ‘family values’”

    How so? It’s a scathing indictment of Pete and Debbie’s marriage, which appears to have been the result of a situation like Ben and Alison’s. Ben and Alison, by the end of the film, are an unmarried couple TRYING to make a relationship work for the sake of the baby. The success of this attempt is left ambiguous.

    Besides, as a liberal, you should know the term “family values” is utter bullshit, anyway. It doesn’t mean anything when the conservatives use it, so I’m not sure why it should in response to a perceived conservativism you see in this film.

    2. “traditional romantic relationships”
    What does this even mean? About half of the posts up there are complaining that it’s unbelievable that Alison could fall for Ben; if it were “traditional,” this would be entirely believable, no?

    Also, it’s a movie about romantic relationships with unexpected pregnancy as a major motivating force. This would probably NOT be a factor in a movie about “non-traditional” (if that’s what we’re calling gay and lesbian) relationships. I guess what I’m asking is what kind of non-traditional relationships could this movie possibly feature without being another movie entirely? Do you oppose heterosexual romantic comedies on principle?

    3. “sexist views of women”

    Alison is the most mature, consistently likeable character in the film, but Apatow also doesn’t idealize her into something unreal – when she snaps at Ben, it’s entirely realistic and entirely understandable, as well. Debbie, at first, comes across as a flat character – a mean-spirited, superficial horror of a wife. But here’s the brilliant thing – Apatow doesn’t let her stay in this zone. We (well, some of us – including my wife, who’s probably more up on her feminist theory than most on this board) learn to sympathize with her, and we get why she’s so short with Pete. Sexism requires stereotyping, and these characters continually thwart stereotypes – they’re not flat characters.

    4. “because it choses not to deal with abortion as a choice and a reality for women”

    I posted this in that other thread on this movie I mentioned above, but check this review out: http://pandagon.net/2007/06/03/movie-review-knocked-up/

    Pandagon has a fairly liberal slant, and this writer has a quite obvious feminist one. I don’t agree with the entirety of the review, but I agree with much of it, particular the thoughts on the abortion issue (although you might also note the comment on the Mo/Bechdel test in reference to your third criticism). She feels it would be condescending for Apatow to try to articulate the complex, perhaps inexpressible reasons that Alison might choose not to have an abortion – I agree.

    I guess I have nothing to say to the rest of your post, as I don’t believe that Apatow was trying to make a grand statement about modern relationships (think of it this way – was the 40-Year-Old Virgin supposed to be a grand statement on 40-year-old virgins?), I don’t think artists have a social responsibility other than to create powerful and effective art, and I don’t think the characters are two-dimensional at all. I’m not sure what it says that I’m a man and I can sympathize entirely with Debbie and Alison (as well as Ben and Pete), and you’re a woman and can’t.

    Anyway, if you made it this far, thanks for reading.

  • MaryAnn

    If Seth Rogen were Owen Wilson, this review would have been a RAVE.

    Do you honestly believe that?

    When reviewers call “Knocked Up” ‘honest’ and contemporary and ‘real’ it feels like a punch in the gut to this woman… because it validates the movie’s two-dimensional portrayal of women as controlling, shrill, dependent, and incapable of making autonomous choices.

    Thank you, Rebecca. This is exactly how I feel.

    it’s unbelievable that Alison could fall for Ben

    What makes this movie “conservative” is that Alison does NOT “fall for” Ben. I see absolutely no evidence of any kind that she has ANY genuine romantic or sexual feelings for Ben. But she convinces herself that she needs to be with him anyway because of the baby. THAT’S conversative. And no matter what she SAYS about not wanting to be like her sister, she is on precisely that path. Let’s revisit Alison and Ben in ten years and see how truly happy they are.

  • Rebecca

    Dave,

    1) Of course I think the term ‘family values’ is bullshit. That’s why I set it off in quotes. I was invoking its propagandist character. I think the ‘family values’ promoted here are obvious and perhaps damaging; although Pete and Debbie are unhappy – they’re married! And guess who else is headed towards marriage at the end of the film? Yep, the entirely unbelievable lead characters. What’s the lesson? Ya get pregnant, ya get married, and you make it work, damnit. What is this, 1950?

    2) Yeah, I guess I do oppose some normative, heterosexual romantic comedies on principal. But that’s not the reason I would slight “Knocked Up” as a movie about “traditional romantic relationships.” Read the excerpt below, from the review you linked above:

    >>Apatow carves out the situations and the characters so believably, it makes it doubly disappointing when he caves at the end and uses some cheap devices to push Ben and Alison into a romantic relationship together, when the momentum of the script until then was pointing towards a resolution where they decide to co-parent as friends, and set aside the awkward and miserable attempts to become a couple.

    Don’t you find it at all problematic that this movie sacrificed any allegience to the characters you (and this reveiwer) find SO believable, in order to push them together in a predictable, cliched romantic partnership?

    3) Ummm, just because Alison is a likeable character doesn’t mean she’s not a type. (The Virgin Mary was I’m sure, very pleasant.) But I’ll give you that I do think Alison is more developed than Debbie. And she gets to keep her job even when she’s preggers. So that’s nice. Not so nice are the controlling mother nor Debbie, who – sorry – doesn’t seem to me to get a whole lot of sympathetic light. I’m glad that you’re socially developed enough to see (or imagine) that she does, but I find it hard to believe that the majority of people watching this film will take a pause from laughing at derogatory vagina jokes and female hormonal freak-out scenes to appreciate Debbie. The trajectory of her character seemed to me to follow this logic: sex-witholding, neurotic, yelling wife trails husband around the suburbs in fit of jealousy, tarts up for a nightclub in a fit of pathetic desperation at her age, and then gets her comeuppance when her husband figures out how to tame/placate her, and again when Ben screams at her to get off of his turf and out of the delivery room.

    4) Let’s leave the abortion talk alone.

    I laughed at this movie. I didn’t walk out. But I didn’t think it brilliantly captured contemporary social anxieties about age, relationships, parenthood either. And my problem is that this is exactly what some reviewers have claimed it did. Maybe some like Apatow because he’s the perfect humble underdog director to make blockbuster frat-boy comedy that can masquerade as social critique. My basic issue with “Knocked Up” is that I think it’s been overestimated. And when it is, the discrepancies, stereotypes, etc. get vaunted as honest characterizations of American life.

    Dave, you wrote:

    “I don’t think artists have a social responsibility other than to create powerful and effective art.”

    I guess my rejoinder (which I think is certainly a little heavy-handed for this shallow summer flick) would be:

    “With great power comes great responsibility.”

  • dave

    1) Of course I think the term ‘family values’ is bullshit. That’s why I set it off in quotes. I was invoking its propagandist character. I think the ‘family values’ promoted here are obvious and perhaps damaging; although Pete and Debbie are unhappy – they’re married!
    ===
    How is a marriage that’s portrayed as unhappy an argument for any sort of traditional “family values?” This is like saying 1984 is an argument for totalitarianism!

    And guess who else is headed towards marriage at the end of the film? Yep, the entirely unbelievable lead characters. What’s the lesson? Ya get pregnant, ya get married, and you make it work, damnit. What is this, 1950?
    ===
    We don’t know that they’re headed for marriage. In fact, Alison turns down Ben’s proposal, and they talk about not ending up like Pete and Debbie. But is it really so unbelievable that two people in an emotionally charged situation such as the one they find themselves in might end up attracted to each other? People get married for far dumber and even less romantic reasons than the fact that they have a child in common.

    I don’t think the movie is, in any way, suggesting that Ben and Alison MUST get married because they’ve had a child together. I don’t think Apatow’s argument is that men and women who are having a child together will fall in love in order to raise that child; it’s that THIS PARTICULAR COUPLE fell in love (and even that’s questionable by the end) after they started hanging out together due to this new shared responsiblity. Perhaps you’d argue that Alison shouldn’t have contacted Ben and raised the baby as a single parent, but not only would that be deceptive (and out-of-character), but it would ignore the fact that single-parentdom kind of sucks (I say that as a product of that environment). Alison wants Ben to be a part of the baby’s life, he does, as well. From there, we get our story.

    2) Yeah, I guess I do oppose some normative, heterosexual romantic comedies on principal.
    ===
    This isn’t even all that normative, though. The ending is only ostensibly positive, but essentially ambiguous. Not everyone lives happily ever after, and even Ben and Pete have what seems to be a slight falling out. For the record, do you oppose normative homosexual romantic comedies on principle?

    Don’t you find it at all problematic that this movie sacrificed any allegience to the characters you (and this reveiwer) find SO believable, in order to push them together in a predictable, cliched romantic partnership?
    ===
    Not really. The relationship came off as organic to me, so the cliche’ed happy (and this is questionable) ending doesn’t bother me any more than the happy ending in most comedies (are happy endings always cliche’ed?). Sometimes, things work out. (It should be noted that this is the only major point on which I disagree with that review, though I get why she finds it problematic – I find it more interesting that the review considers the subtext in feminist terms – as you and MaryAnn seem to want to do – and finds it exceptionally well-executed, minus the conclusion, which the reviewer even seems to forgive to some degree.)

    What exactly is not believable about these characters, by the way? Let’s take this out of the “social responsibility” arena for a moment and think about this. Is it that men are never slacker burnouts and those that are can never change? Is it that career-driven women will always have abortions? Is it that married men and women always get along or get divorced? Where’s the lack of realism here?

    3) Ummm, just because Alison is a likeable character doesn’t mean she’s not a type.
    ==
    Okay, I’m going to try to not be condescending here, but I’m assuming you’re reading my entire sentences. My argument isn’t that she’s likeable – it’s that she’s not JUST likeable; she’s not some perfect woman placed on a pedestal, but flawed and interesting. None of these characters are all bad or all good. I, frankly, don’t care that some audience members don’t get that Debbie is sympathetic – that just means they’re inattentive moviegoers. I regularly post on a message board consisting mostly of men. After a couple posts that basically agreed with you (and it’s an interesting study in double standards – when men criticize Debbie, they come off as sexist, but when you do, Apatow does), a storm of posts defending her came up. In short, the majority there DID pick up on her complexities. I don’t think I’m imagining the fact that Apatow is painting Debbie as sympathetic, but that you’re missng it.

    Plus, would you argue that Ben was somehow wrong to ask her to leave the delivery room? At that point, Debbie IS being unreasonable.

    Apatow’s work has never been about social critique. They’re all character studies! Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, even the 40-Year-Old Virgin – they’re all about specific individuals. They’re not prescriptive, nor should they be. But I do think they’re honest. If you don’t see that, I guess you just haven’t met the same people that I have.

  • Alan

    I call it Poland/Wells Disorder: when an online reviewer fails to admit that they might be wrong, and diaparages others who disagree as idiots. It’s pretty endemic to many Internet reviewers. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to spot/avoid.

  • MBI

    “What makes this movie ‘conservative’ is that Alison does NOT ‘fall for’ Ben. I see absolutely no evidence of any kind that she has ANY genuine romantic or sexual feelings for Ben. But she convinces herself that she needs to be with him anyway because of the baby.”

    Okay, now, here’s where I think you’re wrong. She didn’t convince herself she needed to be with Ben because of the baby. You’ve got no evidence to support that. What this movie is trying to sell us, is that Ben and Allison end up together because they like each other. We both agree that it doesn’t succeed in selling us that, but that doesn’t mean it’s trying to sell the alternative.

  • MaryAnn

    when men criticize Debbie, they come off as sexist

    Obviously, I can speak only for myself, not for all women, but I would not call “sexist” a man who criticizes Debbie.

    I call it Poland/Wells Disorder: when an online reviewer fails to admit that they might be wrong, and diaparages others who disagree as idiots. It’s pretty endemic to many Internet reviewers. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to spot/avoid.

    Is this a swipe at me, Alan? If so, can you tell me what I should be admitting that I’m “wrong” about?

  • Alan

    Pretty much everything from “Americans are children” and onward.

  • MaryAnn

    What this movie is trying to sell us, is that Ben and Allison end up together because they like each other.

    And I would argue, MBI, that you’ve got no evidence to support THAT. Clearly, the film pushes Alison into situations in which she attempts to actually like Ben. But I don’t see where she actually crosses the line into actually liking him. And I don’t mean that the film tries to get her to cross that line but fails. I mean that the film never even finds that line.

  • dave

    “But I don’t see where she actually crosses the line into actually liking him. And I don’t mean that the film tries to get her to cross that line but fails. I mean that the film never even finds that line.”

    I hear that the DVD will have the deleted scene in which Alison is struck in the ass by a Cupid*-delivered arrow, after which, she loudly proclaims, “I LOVE YOU, BEN, YOU BIG LUG OF A MAN, YOU!!!”

    Seriously, how do you think love works? Do we really need to see some sudden realization in Alison to buy that she’s slowly growing attached, then attracted to Ben?

    * Cupid will be played by Samm Levine.

  • MaryAnn

    Do we really need to see some sudden realization in Alison to buy that she’s slowly growing attached, then attracted to Ben?

    We need to see *some* evidence, yes. I don’t see it. I see desperation — not sexual desperation, but the woman has no other friends, for Christ’s sake. She’s isolated and lonely. She has NO ONE but Ben. That’s not love.

    Look, women have friends. Women can have intense friendships. I know that if I suddenly found myself unexpectedly pregnant, there are a few very good and close friends I could count on to stand by me and help me with the baby, if I decided to have it. Alison has no one she can count on, except Ben. And he demonstrates that he cannot really be counted on. But she clings to him as her best bet. That’s terribly sad.

  • MBI

    I think she’s got a point actually, Dave. As far as I can tell, she takes Ben back because he’s so helpful during the whole birthing process. That’s not enough, in my opinion, to justify a reconciliation.

  • MBI

    I mean, I can’t say MaryAnn is WRONG to say that she takes him back out of adherence to conservative dogma. But really, there are any number of reasons she could have taken him back. There’s no evidence for, really, anything.

  • dave

    We don’t know that it’s a full reconciliation, though. Plus, we’re given all sorts of evidence that Ben’s changed his life independently of Alison. Prior to the argument that split them up, Alison was pretty clearly growing attracted to Ben; his inability to grow up was the sticking point. He made some legitimate moves toward growing up (and these seemed to come from an honest desire to change, not some superficial attempt to impress Alison). Post-birth, is it so inconceivable that she’d be impressed by this and give him another chance? But, okay, I’ll accept that we’re not ENTIRELY sure why Alison takes him back. It seems to me that there are some very good, textually-supported reasons, but it’s never clearly stated. I’m okay with that; others might need to have this spelled out.

    To accept the “women have intense friendships” line is to simply accept another stereotype. Not all women have a huge network of supportive friends who would gladly pitch in to help with a baby. If I recall, we don’t get Alison’s full background. Maybe none of her friends are local, maybe she’s always just been closer to her family than her friends, maybe they ended up in the deleted scenes in favor of her on-the-job scenes, whatever. It doesn’t really matter.

    But let’s try this on for size: Ben’s the FATHER of her baby. He’s 50 percent responsible for the upbringing of this person. Debbie isn’t. Alison’s mom isn’t. Alison’s hypothetical absent friends aren’t. I think some of you are losing sight of this in your exuberance for independent woman-dom, but Alison’s decisions about the baby do affect Ben. It’s not like he’s some last-resort parent figure for her child – he IS the other parent! His responsibility is built in, and he wants to accept it (and Alison wants him to), but he’s not ready for it initially.

    I know it’s tempting (and maybe even valid in some situations) to shrug this sort of connection off when we’re talking about reproductive rights and such, but once a decision is made to keep a baby, I think you have to take the biological father (assuming he’s well-meaning and willing to help raise the child) into consideration.

  • amanohyo

    I registered on Rotten Tomatoes just to thank you for the honest, hilarious review. I don’t have the time to read through all the posts above, so I apologize if this has already been discussed, but it can’t be a coincidence that almost every rotten review is from a female reviewer.

    I think the movie expresses the secret fears/hopes of all adolescent men, but I agree that it’s a very harmful message for teenagers of both sexes to imply that beautiful successful women can find fufillment by cleaning up the lives of emotionally and intellectually stunted man-children.

    If the film was a straight up ridiculous comedy that took place in some odd parallel universe (Austin Powers, Dodgeball) then the tone would be slightly more forgiveable, but professional critics are talking about this movie like it atually has something positive (and funny) to say about life. I was convinced something was wrong with me when it all seemed so trite and depressingly misanthropic.

    I just wanted to thank you and the handful of other mature reviewers for confirming that I haven’t completely lost touch with society. Sadly, the funniest part of the movie was the ubiquitous, “stoned guys think everything is funny” scene you mentioned. I will say that if I was thirteen, I would proabbly think a lot more of the movie was hilarious, oblivious to its over-the-top gender sterotyping. I’m sure that in a decade or two, once the feminist backlash has died down, people will look back at movies like this as curious relics of an ignorant past.

  • Josh Gilchrist

    I am sorry but this discussion is turning more and more upsetting. You can say the film portrays what is wrong with society, which is does well, but so does this discussion. Stop calling the film too liberal or too conservative. It’s a friggin movie for crying out loud. It has no outside agenda. Grow up people. And of course the film shows Alison developing feelings for Ben. It’s a struggle for her but what attracts her to him is that she sees herself in him. The problem that many of the women, MaryAnn in general, have here is that the lead actor is not attractive to them from the outside. As someone stated on here earlier, if Ben was played by Owen Wilson MaryAnn would be praising the film up and down, sideways and backwards. She praises the Paul Rudd character as adorable, and there is really not much difference between the Rudd and Rogen character outside of their looks. Both are irresponsible grown children, as are the two female leads in the film. But since MaryAnn is attracted to Rudd, she praises him, and claims that any woman that gets pregnant by Seth Rogen should take the nearest bus to the abortion clinic

  • MaryAnn

    Stop calling the film too liberal or too conservative. It’s a friggin movie for crying out loud. It has no outside agenda.

    Movies do not exist in a vacuum. Movies — and in particular very popular movies — say things about us as a culture that are worth exploring.

    The problem that many of the women, MaryAnn in general, have here is that the lead actor is not attractive to them from the outside.

    No! That is not at all the problem! I do think Seth Rogen is attractive (perhaps not Ben so much, but Seth, yes), and I will point out again that I come to the defense of men like Ben (and Pete) in my review.

    MaryAnn… claims that any woman that gets pregnant by Seth Rogen should take the nearest bus to the abortion clinic

    Again: No! The problem with the film is that it unfairly sets up Alison so that she is in a situation in which she has No Other Choice but to end up with Ben… and the movie thinks it’s funny that she must end up with Ben! A good, even great movie could be made from this situation, but it would have to be fair to Alison: we would have to see that she has many other options — abortion, a circle of close friends, maybe even another man (not the one who impregnated her) as a rival for Ben — and she STILL choses Ben! Then it would be her choice, and a mature, intelligent choice. But the movie gives her no choice. THAT’S what is unforgivable in this movie, and why it is so conservative. It fails to acknowledge how women’s horizons have expanded today.

  • Douglas Harrison

    Hi there. I just wanted to compliment you on your review. But whether or not you’re right about the social implications, I do think the Apatow’s *conscious* motivations might have been a little less malign than you give him credit for: he simply doesn’t know what he’s doing.

    Apatow is a TV writer. He very obviously writes to a dramatic outline and lets the actors fill in the gaps with improv… and it shows. As a few other posts have touched on, the movie “had” to skip over the abortion; it “had” to end with everyone happy together even if it didn’t make any sense; and it “had” to end immediately after the birth even if that meant nothing actually got resolved. To do otherwise would violate the outline, and risk challenging the audience’s sensibilities. But it’s not as if numerous scenes weren’t badly mishandled by themselves.

    Why did Pete accept Debbie saying “don’t come home” after the baseball spat? Women get to do that over something so trivial? Isn’t it his fucking house? How about that Ben and Alison make up after their own split SOLELY because he turns up to help while she’s enjoying the wonder of childbirth? The screenplay simply ignores the truth of everything they both said to get to the birth scene, then the movie ends! Yay!

    Watch while Ben gets his life together and decides to stop being a loser… but don’t blink, because it was done with a montage! That was the climax of his character arc, and they just jumped past it! How can he get a job good enough to pay rent on an apartment when he has apparently has no qualifcations? Who cares! Pete and Debbie have their massive falling out, but the next time they’re together in a scene it’s all smiles for their daughter’s birthday party, like nothing’s happened. We have literally no idea how their relationship was affected, whether the problems will reoccur in the future – none! Allison’s bosses wait until the third act, after she’s been showing for months, before informing her that they’re aware of her pregnancy! Allison’s reaction (shocked): “You knew??”

    I could go on, but instead I’ll cap this with my favorite barf-inducing moment: Alison in the bath, all teary-eyed with labor pains, saying: “You read the baby books!” Yes, Ben read three books. He can read. Is one unplanned pregnancy really enough for a father that qualified?

    A much more interesting, subversive film might have used the exact same skipping over of the abortion question near the start, but then satirised itself by having Allison CHANGE HER MIND to save her career at a late stage of the pregnancy. Ben’s newfound ‘maturity’ could have been tested by having him to decide to beg her to keep it, even though he knew it would mean raising the kid as a single father. Then in the last scene she could rethink her decision a few months after the birth, once we’ve had a few scenes of Ben changing nappies to convince the audience Ben has really grown up – and voila: a properly earned happy ending that addresses the option of abortion and subverts gender stereotypes.

    Mostly I got the impression that Apatow had no idea what he was trying to say. The movie wound up implying that having children fixes everything bad in a relationship… except that, er, it also doesn’t. I ended it yearning to rewatch a movie from a more social-realist, liberal age of Hollywood… THE APARTMENT, say. From 1960.

  • Douglas Harrison

    Forgot to mention: I also finished the movie feeling an inexpressible, unprecedented yearning to watch SPIDER-MAN 3. And I couldn’t say why. Very odd.

  • Josh Gilchrist

    I’m sorry for my comments earlier. I should not have ripped into you like that, although I am sure you get it a lot. I used to be a critic myself. I had everything from death threats to a mother asking me if I would marry their daughter. I just found your review contradicting is all. I understand where you are coming from, and the story could have been handled better. Thinking it over, your view does make sense since women are not displayed in the best fashion here. Though, neither are the men. I do feel the film is an over the top look at what many couples do experience.

  • Larry Post

    It’s funny that so many felt “Knocked Up” was like an Operation Rescue pamphlet. Although I, too, wondered on the way to the parking lot why the screenplay didn’t grapple with abortion–or make the women characters more appealing or funny–I wonder if the discussion is overlooking the obvious.

    With its depiction of the miseries of pregnancy, “Knocked Up” does a good public service by reminding young men why the law must not force women to bear the children of the Seth Rogens of the world. In that, perhaps, it serves the abortion rights cause well.

  • Larry Post

    p.s. Douglas, you make some good points. I remember that 1982′s seminal teen sex comedy Last American Virgin wrestled more believably with abortion than this picture.

  • http://cheapshot.mu.nu Shaun

    MaryAnn, I was just starting to really like your site when I came across this “review.” Instead of telling us the pros and cons of the movie in a concise manner, you wrote an editorial on what others are saying about the movie. That just reads unprofessional in my view.

    I’m going to say right now, admittedly, I have not read the whole thing, which I don’t feel is a failure on my part, but rather as commentary on how this needs a good half of it trimmed down. As it reads now, this is no better than someone’s rant in the talkbacks of Ain’t It Cool News – all opinion, no substance.

    Personally, I greatly appreciated Knocked Up, which will also bias my review of your own, and I own up to that. I watched it with my girlfriend and we found it touching, and I stole a glance or two at her during the movie’s emotional beats and found them striking a chord in her.

    I’ve skimmed through only five or six posts here and can see the vapid hate mail piling up, and I understand the feeling since I used to be a critic too (have you gotten hate mail from the actual filmmakers? That’s always fun.)

    I just wanted you to know that I’m not trying to present this as “trolling” or whatever the term is for people hating you just because you have a different opinion, but I wanted to let you know that the presentation of your opinion lacks the professional quality that asserts your viewpoint as a valid one, and that opens you up to the attacks you’ve received thus far.

  • MaryAnn

    Shaun says:

    Instead of telling us the pros and cons of the movie in a concise manner

    but also:

    I’m going to say right now, admittedly, I have not read the whole thing

    Patently.

  • Andrew

    Abortion should NEVER be an option for anything. She made the mistake of getting drunk and having sex with a stranger. She accepted the consequences of that action. If she didnt want the baby, she could have given it up for adoption. Abortion is MURDER. There are millions of parents that cant have kids, and adoption is a wonderful opportunity. On that note, I loved Knocked Up. Its the best film Ive seen all year.

  • dave

    Douglas –

    Yes, Knocked Up quite clearly fails as a subversive film. It also fails as a critical history of the Spanish Civil War.

    Larry (and everyone else hung up on the abortion question) –

    Knocked Up also fails as an in-depth examination of American attitudes toward abortion in post-Roe v. Wade America. It also fails to account for the very real ramifications of marijuana use and its potential legalization, an issue that DEMANDS examination in light of Ben and his friends’ behavior.

    Andrew –

    Please don’t love Knocked Up. I’d rather not have anything in common with people like you.

  • Douglas Harrison

    (Dave) “Yes, Knocked Up quite clearly fails as a subversive film. It also fails as a critical history of the Spanish Civil War. It also fails to account for the very real ramifications of marijuana use and its potential legalization”

    This was about a dumbass getting a hot girl pregnant. What happened to the baby was central to the story, marijuana use was just a character detail showing Ben’s irresponsibility. Apples and oranges.

    But you imply they weren’t trying to be subversive, or that they shouldn’t have to try. I respectfully disagree. All good comedy must have at least a little bit of edginess at it’s core, and they were clearly trying to be, what with the mushrooms, stock gross-outs and oh yeah, the crowning scene. Like the marijuana, it had no direct bearing on the main story.

    (Larry Post) “With its depiction of the miseries of pregnancy, “Knocked Up” does a good public service by reminding young men why the law must not force women to bear the children of the Seth Rogens of the world.”

    I think M-A’s whole problem with the film was that it kind of didn’t. Allison was very desirable – most slobby retarded young men could not hope to wind up balling such a woman for the rest of their lives, and would tolerate a certain amount of misery to do so. And the movie ended with them driving off into the sunset. Debbie and Pete wound up allegedly happy too, so it’s not like there was much ambiguity coming from the subplot. It really did wind up seeming more like a stealth argument for Ye Olde Conservative Values, although I think that was probably unintentional.

  • dave

    “All good comedy must have at least a little bit of edginess at it’s core.”

    All good comedy must have Funny at its core. That’s all. And I’m not sure “edginess” always translates into “subversive,” anyway. The Kids in the Hall were sort of “edgy,” but most of their best work was too absurdist to really be considered “subversive” in the way you seem to want Knocked Up to be subversive.

    Besides, it could be argued that there’s something vaguely edgy about someone like Alison falling for Ben, just as there’s something vaguely edgy about someone like Ben Cort falling for Ruth Gordon – romantic mismatches that flaunt convention are inherently edgy (and if you think that Alison falling for Ben is conventional, please refer to above posts that rant about how “unrealistic” this scenario is).

    The problem is that some of the people here, MaryAnn included, want the movie to have something to say about something that it doesn’t have anything to say about. They’ve projected an ill-fitting pro-life/pro-choice argument on to this movie. It seems fairly obvious to me that Apatow downplayed this aspect of the story because it’s simply not relevant to the focus of the movie. Just because abortion exists as an option doesn’t mean that it needs to be addressed in every movie about pregnancy – Alison obviously doesn’t want to have an abortion for whatever reason. Being pro-choice means you don’t have to justify this decision, whichever it may be. Basically, this movie is an examination of the FALLOUT of Alison deciding to have the baby, not an examination of her deciding whether or not to have it. It’s ridiculous to fault it for failing to be something that it doesn’t aspire to be.

  • dave

    Oops. Meant to say Bud Cort, not Ben Cort.

  • MaryAnn

    She made the mistake of getting drunk and having sex with a stranger. Abortion is MURDER. I loved Knocked Up. Its the best film Ive seen all year.

    I think it’s safe to say that Andrew beautifully proves my point about why some people love this movie.

  • bjm

    A complete waste of time and money….only for low-class uneducated people that find humor in disgusting language and values.

  • Josh Gilchrist

    The humor does not come from the disgusting language and values. It comes from the message it sets forth about those values. It turns them on their head. The intellectual and non-intellectual can both find it funny

  • Douglas Harrison

    Dave: very good post. This is just a difference of opinion in how effectively the movie did what it was trying to do. Saying that, though…

    “All good comedy must have Funny at its core. That’s all.”

    I’m saying I think edginess/subversiveness is what makes something funny. Absurdism, slapstick, drug-induced hallucinations in a comedy – these were all once considered subversive, as in ‘subverting people’s expectations’. But they’re not any more. Without being at least a bit subversive about it’s central topic, Knocked Up could only be funny on the margins.

    “Besides, it could be argued that there’s something vaguely edgy about someone like Alison falling for Ben”

    I actually didn’t have any problem with the premise at all. I think there’s a risk of seeming like a male fantasy inherant to the idea, and I don’t think the movie avoided that problem, but I don’t question the *plausibility* of it. It’s definitely not a new idea, though.

    “It seems fairly obvious to me that Apatow downplayed this aspect of the story because it’s simply not relevant to the focus of the movie. Basically, this movie is an examination of the FALLOUT of Alison deciding to have the baby, not an examination of her deciding whether or not to have it.”

    This is the crux: I don’t think it did properly examine the fallout. The whole problem is that the fallout of Allison deciding to have the baby does NOT end with the baby being born and the couple going home all smilely. It ends with the central problem of the movie (the mismatched couple) being resolved one way or the other, and that didn’t happen, because they wound up coming together at the end only because of the birth. If anything their relationship would come under MORE pressure once the baby was born.

    There were also entirely apolitical reasons to address the abortion option properly. IIRC, you can have an abortion until very late in term in the US – but in the movie Alison decided after only having met Ben twice, only 2 months after conception; and then the issue is COMPLETELY set aside and never mentioned again. In reality, the option would occur to her repeatedly throughout the pregnancy, every time Ben was a jerk, when it started to make her gain weight, when it started to endanger her job – and by refusing to dramatise that part of the struggle (again, central to the concept of the film) it implied she was simply refusing to face the reality of her situation.

    Of course, if you don’t regard abortion as an option, none of this matters. But that attitude doomed the movie to seem like a comforting relic, with it’s relevance to the modern world defined exclusively by references to Spider-man 3 and the internet.

  • dave

    “Of course, if you don’t regard abortion as an option, none of this matters.”

    I do, but perhaps Alison doesn’t. Or perhaps she regards it as an option for others, but not for herself – this is very often the case.

    “In reality, the option would occur to her repeatedly throughout the pregnancy, every time Ben was a jerk, when it started to make her gain weight, when it started to endanger her job – and by refusing to dramatise that part of the struggle (again, central to the concept of the film) it implied she was simply refusing to face the reality of her situation.”

    This isn’t necessarily true at all. If you’ve come to the conclusion that you don’t want an abortion on any sort of ethical basis, you’re not going to start change your mind on the subject because you had a bad day. It’s a huge choice to make in the first place – it’s not like comparatively trivial matters like Ben being a jerk are going to automatically send Alison to the clinic.

  • dave

    Incidentally, I’d think any feminist worth her salt would find insulting the notion that a woman faced with the inevitable weight gain of pregnancy is going to re-consider a decision not to abort. How frivolous and vain would you have to be to make a decision with a set of heavy ramifications for yourself, father, and hypothetical baby, and then doubt the conclusion over something like a (quite probably temporary) weight gain?

    Again, just because we don’t see Alison writing up a two-column list of good vs. bad consequences of her pregnancy doesn’t mean she hasn’t weighed her possibilities. Whatever informs her decision to have the baby, it would be antithetical to her character to later change her mind over frivolous stuff like Ben being a jerk or some weight gain. The job was already a factor when she became pregnant, so I would assume that was taken into consideration with her initial decision to not abort.

  • MaryAnn

    Incidentally, I’d think any feminist worth her salt would find insulting the notion that a woman faced with the inevitable weight gain of pregnancy is going to re-consider a decision not to abort.

    In this we are in agreement, dave. Women don’t decide to have an abortion because they might gain weight, and it’s frivolous and insulting to suggest that they do. Women chose abortions not because of the short-term inconvenience of a pregnancy but because of the long-term impact having a baby has on a woman, even if she were to give the baby up for adoption.

  • Douglas Harrison

    Had I suggested a woman might have an abortion because pregnancy made her gain weight, I would be almost comically sexist.

    Er, wait…

    I actually wrote: “the option would occur to her repeatedly throughout the pregnancy”. Meaning that even after she ‘makes the decision’ to keep the baby, she’s still AWARE of the option. She’s just ignoring it, and repressing any doubts she might have about her decision. Ben’s lameness and crappy aspects of the pregnancy experience are going to hinder her efforts to repress her doubts. This needed to be dramatised. No choice is final until its consequences become irrevocable.

    To re-state: for the majority of the running time of the movie, abortion was still a viable option – the screenplay just tried to pretend like none of the characters knew that. That’s why it felt like the issue wasn’t addressed.

  • dave

    I actually wrote: “the option would occur to her repeatedly throughout the pregnancy”. Meaning that even after she ‘makes the decision’ to keep the baby, she’s still AWARE of the option. She’s just ignoring it, and repressing any doubts she might have about her decision. Ben’s lameness and crappy aspects of the pregnancy experience are going to hinder her efforts to repress her doubts. This needed to be dramatised. No choice is final until its consequences become irrevocable.
    ==
    Perhaps adoption also occurred to her. Perhaps suicide also occurred to her. Perhaps quitting her high-profile job and finding something less stressful and more convenient for single-motherhood occurred to her. I’m not sure why her decision to abort or not, specifically, requires dramatization. And, for all we know, abortion DOESN’T occur to her. As has been said, maybe she doesn’t consider it an option for her, personally. I would think that when you make this sort of decision about the future of a human being, it requires a commitment. If reservations arise later, you’re, at the very least, probably not going to vocalize them.

    You’re bringing a political reading to this film, which is fine, in and of itself. The problem is that you’re getting mad that it doesn’t adhere to your personal politics by virtue of its omissions (in fact, it suggests next to nothing on the greater issue of abortion – a move that Apatow seems to have made deliberately). I think there’s an honest way to bring a political reading to this film, but it has a lot more to do with what’s on the screen than what it failed to cover in literal, in-your-face detail. Just because abortion doesn’t get all that much play (and it does get some) in a comedy about pregnancy doesn’t mean that it’s socially irresponsible or pro-life.

  • Douglas Harrison

    “You’re bringing a political reading to this film, which is fine, in and of itself.”

    Gaaargh. No. No I’m not. Abortion isn’t even a political issue where I’m from (UK), and I explicitly said I thought the film-makers didn’t intend to make a political statement; that they just wound up making what could be *interpreted* as one because they didn’t really understand what they were doing.

    “I’m not sure why her decision to abort or not, specifically, requires dramatization. ”

    For the same reason the first one-night stand required dramatisation – it’s crucial to the story. As you yourself said, the whole frickin’ movie could be viewed as the repurcussions of her decision to keep the baby. In that light, her decision is THE MOST important event in the whole movie.

    To the rest, all I have to say is: finding out about character’s motivations can be enjoyable, and is helpful for understanding their actions. Personally, I would have LOVED to find out more about the reason behind lovely Allison’s steely determination to keep her baby, because it would have made me sympathise with her on a human instead of a purely visceral level. But I didn’t, so I couldn’t.

  • Shaun

    Hopefully this posts since this site has been having trouble doing that for me as of late, but the following is a conversation I’ve been having with MaryAnn. I want to note that I let her know in advance this would be posted, so I’m not looking to exploit what she thought would be a private conversation, and also I want to note that she was nice enough to even reply and defend her work, which merits some respect on my part.

    The following is my response to MaryAnn:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Shaun says:

    Instead of telling us the pros and cons of the movie in a concise manner

    but also:

    I’m going to say right now, admittedly, I have not read the whole thing

    Patently.

    Actually, yeah, that’s about right. I know it’s supposed to be construed out of context to make me look foolish for sharing my opinion, but even when the thoughts are re-organized here, it’s true: I could not read this whole “review” because it was not concise enough.

    Patently. (Which is blog for “burn” I guess)

    P.S. I’d still like to see you respond to my post as a whole if you have the time though. You seem like an intelligent person and rather than using the whole “haha, I totally can quote him doing this and this and when combined he looks like a goof” that everyone’s been doing on real message boards since ever, I’d like to have some real discourse with you.

    P.P.S. Please don’t do the whole thing where you’re like “I’ll respond to him line by line in his original post, dispelling each point one at a time” because we both know that’s not contextual either. I’m looking for a real response.

    Her response read:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Actually, yeah, that’s about right. I know it’s supposed to be construed out of context to make me look foolish for sharing my opinion,

    No, it was supposed to make you look foolish for thinking you could offer a valid opinion on my review when you admit you haven’t even read it.

    P.P.S. Please don’t do the whole thing where you’re like “I’ll respond to him line by line in his original post, dispelling each point one at a time” because we both know that’s not contextual either. I’m looking for a real response.

    Then offer a *real* response to my review.

    My response:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    No, it was supposed to make you look foolish for thinking you could offer a valid opinion on my review when you admit you haven’t even read it.

    You know that thing I said about responding line by line? You lose a lot of the conversation in it.

    Then offer a *real* response to my review.

    The faults I found with your review is that it is not concise and unprofessional. In response, you’ve asked me to read more, as though by adding words onto what I’ve already read will somehow make it more concise, or “Just you wait and see, it gets super professional in the middle.”

    Stop grasping at straws and address my concerns.

    She wrote:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    If you are suggesting that I edit my review down for your benefit, I can assure you that that isn’t going to happen.

    I wrote:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I did not suggest anything along those lines at all. What I requested is that you “address my concerns.” Perhaps something along the lines of “My review was not concise because…” or “I did not adopt a professional tone because…”

    She wrote:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Ha. You presuppose that I agree with your assessment of my review. “Concise” and “professional” are in the eye of the beholder, and I disagree that my review was neither concise nor professional.

    I wrote:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    My only presupposition was that I thought you’d have an easier time admitting that your review could be better.

    Her:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I’m quite pleased with my review, thanks.

    Me:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Are you telling me that, as a writer, there can be no improvements made to your review at all?

    Her:
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I’m saying I’m pleased with the review as it is.

    Me: That’s a shame. It could’ve been really good.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Again, sorry for posting this whole thing, but I wanted to share the exchange with all of you since this review clearly has many people talking and everyone exchanging good ideas. MaryAnn is a class act and never once came to simple name-calling and bullying, and I appreciate that the conversation was able to resolve itself without it coming to that on either of our ends, and also, she took the time to help me post on her site – something she didn’t have to do for someone who clearly disagrees with her.

    Also, I apologize to MaryAnn if I was harsh at all in any way and also for making this page even longer than it already is. I’m still up for talking if you are.

  • http://selfstyledsiren.blogspot.com/ Campaspe

    I have not seen Knocked Up, but your review reminds me quite powerfully of my own reaction to Nine Months, which had a similar theme of woman-as-domesticator-of-an-immature-boy. Instead of a feel-good comedy I ended it in a table-pounding rage.

    Well-written, carefully argued review. It would not surprise me if more people start echoing these thoughts, as often happens when a movie is praised beyond its merits. (Little Miss Sunshine, anyone?)

  • dave

    “It would not surprise me if more people start echoing these thoughts, as often happens when a movie is praised beyond its merits.”

    It would not surprise me if people stopped using their brains altogether and relied on a single negative review and their own preconceptions to evaluate films. It’s a time-saving and apparently popular (based on what I’ve read on this site) method of critical analysis. Bravo!

  • cuser

    Campaspe:

    You wrote:

    “Well-written, carefully argued review. It would not surprise me if more people start echoing these thoughts, as often happens when a movie is praised beyond its merits. (Little Miss Sunshine, anyone?)”

    When, exactly, did people start to turn on Little Miss Sunshine if I may ask? Was it before or after it was nominated for Oscars in best picture, supporting actor and supporting actress? Just wondering.

    Mainly, I wanted to echo dave’s comment about you somehow understanding how the movie will be recieved without seeing it. It is one thing to read this review and say “That sounds like a movie I would not be interested in after all, guess I’ll stay away.” That would be fine. That is one of many reasons reviews exist. But to somehow turn that reading into understanding the movie and being able to compare it to others makes no sense. With one person’s take on it you have very little frame of reference to grasp anything about the movie other than its theme and general style. To make statements implying anything further, you would do well to watch the movie.

    Btw, I would be interested to know if MaryAnn feels Little Miss Sunshine compares to Knocked Up in the way you imply it does (praised beyond its merit).

  • http://toniokruger.blogspot.com Tonio Kruger

    You thought “Little Miss Sunshine” was overpraised as well, Campaspe? Me too. And I’ll probably have something to say about “Borat” in a few weeks as well. I suspected that wasn’t going to be my cup of tea, and sure enough, it wasn’t. (And yes, I tried to have an open mind, but when you grow up about people who speak English as a second language, there are just some things that you don’t find funny.)

    As for Shaun:

    Yes, MaryAnn is a class act. As often as I disagree with her–and you may have noticed that I disagree with her a lot–I have never disputed that fact.

  • xOchyea

    get a life

  • Josh Gilchrist

    You did not like Knocked Up, Little Miss Sunshine or Borat? Well, I am sure you will be pleased with the next Rob Schneider film then. It sounds like its right on your alley, if you can turn yourself away from your Police Academy DVDs and reruns of Alf

  • MBI

    “when you grow up about people who speak English as a second language, there are just some things that you don’t find funny”

    As a second-generation American, let me just say: Bull-SHIT.

  • MaryAnn

    Btw, I would be interested to know if MaryAnn feels Little Miss Sunshine compares to Knocked Up in the way you imply it does (praised beyond its merit).

    I don’t, of course: it was my No. 15 movie for last year. :->

    But to somehow turn that reading into understanding the movie and being able to compare it to others makes no sense.

    While I appreciate, naturally, that people like my reviews, I do also find it mysterious that anyone would see my review as the absolute be-all and end-all of everything that could be said about a film. Or that reading a review by anyone constitutes “understanding” a film.

  • MaryAnn

    xOchyea wrote:

    get a life

    xOchyea, you’ll have to be much clearer. To whom are you directing this comment? Me? One of the other commenters here?

    And then we need to know what you mean by this. What kind of life should we be getting? If this something available in stores, or do we have to do mail order?

  • Keith

    Wow. Just wow. I’ve read each and every bad review I could find about this film and this one I just have to respond to. First, I understand and respect that you disliked this film. I did not. I will not belittle you for having an opinion that varies from my own, I am sure many posters before me have done so anyway.

    What I wanted to comment on is the fact that each of the bad reviews came from people who inexplicably attempted to take this movie as a commentary on American relationships. You seem to take this too seriously. It’s vulgar. It’s crude. It’s rude. It takes the drugs and raunch to new levels that even I didn’t enjoy. But that’s the point. To take any moment of this film seriously is to not understand what this movie is all about. It’s supposed to be raunchy and unrealistic. The 40 Year Old Virgin was the same way, only that movie did it much better. That doesn’t take away from the enjoyment I got out of this one.

    The over-the-top stereotyping we get in this film is just that. It is in no way supposed to imply that “everyone” is like this, just these specific characters. At least that’s what I get out of it.

    The only thing in your review that I find disturbing is the way you worded your argument about abortion. Saying that any “smart girl” would go get an abortion is just plain… wrong. Now, I’m sure that you weren’t implying that “Pro-Lifers” are anything less than smart, but I’d be willing to bet that that’s how they see your comment. I was taken aback by the thought that you might actually be supporting the idea of Abortion as Birth Control. But then I thought about it and told myself: Stop taking this so literally, it was a movie.

    Well anyway, Thanks for the review, but please don’t take this movie so seriously. It wasn’t meant to be seen that way.

  • Josh Gilchrist

    I agree somewhat with Keith. What I loved about Knocked Up is that, while it is satirically over the top stereotyping, it’s also more true to life than how other films display relationships. People get upset about how men and women are portrayed in films like this because it breaks from the romantic comedy genre and the ideals that they want to hold onto, but usually are not true.

    I do agree with what you said about MaryAnn’s comments on abortion. That is what immediately upset myself, and I am assuming many others, about this review. It’s one thing to be Pro-Choice. How she writes this is not Pro-Choice though. It’s Pro-Abortion, like there should be no other choice in this situation but to abort the pregnancy. She has a complaint about how the film touches the subject, which may even be valid, but she herself goes overboard with it and creates something even more twisted.

  • MaryAnn

    To take any moment of this film seriously is to not understand what this movie is all about. It’s supposed to be raunchy and unrealistic.

    First of all, “raunchy” does not equal “unrealistic.” Being alive is messy, and involves all sort of fluids and stuff. Being alive also involves creature comforts and desires connected to food and sex and hugs and all that. It is, theoretically, possible for a movie to be mature and also raunchy. The Austin Powers, movies, for one, manage to be raunchy but not crass.

    But then some people also say:

    it’s also more true to life than how other films display relationships.

    The fact that some people see this as unrealistic and other people see it as realistic says something about the film, but I’m not sure what yet.

    But I will say AGAIN that no matter how a film is intended, even if it is meant as pure fluff (which I’m not sure is the case with *KU*), when it makes this kind of impact on audiences, there’s something there worth exploring. If a movie touches a nerve, there’s a nerve there to be touched. And when I don’t share that nerve — or when a movie touches a DIFFERENT nerve in me that it either doesn’t seem to be touching in other people or that the media isn’t representing — then I make no apologies for making a big deal out of it.

    The only thing in your review that I find disturbing is the way you worded your argument about abortion. Saying that any “smart girl” would go get an abortion is just plain… wrong. Now, I’m sure that you weren’t implying that “Pro-Lifers” are anything less than smart, but I’d be willing to bet that that’s how they see your comment. I was taken aback by the thought that you might actually be supporting the idea of Abortion as Birth Control.

    But abortion IS birth control, and has been since the moment tens of thousands of years ago when women realized they could have some control over their fertility. It doesn’t have to be today, when we understand the connection between sex and conception, and if Alison and Ben had been responsible about it, it wouldn’t have forced people like me (I’m not the only one to feel this way) to suggest that abortion is indeed an option, even if Alison doesn’t even consider it (that we see).

    Saying that any “smart girl” would go get an abortion is just plain… wrong.

    Why is it wrong? Particularly in this specific situation? Why is it wrong? Or are you really saying that abortion is a choice, but only a choice that no one should ever make?

  • Andrew

    Yes, abortion is a choice, just like everything we do in life. Is it the right choice? NO! Its wrong to think that a woman has the right to have sex with any guy she wants and get pregnant then murder life just because she doesnt want it. Like i said earlier, Alison made the choice of having sex. Getting pregnant was the consequence of that action. She did the right thing by keeping the baby. You think its wrong that she kept it just because shes a young career-minded woman? Thats liberal BULLSHIT!

  • Andrew

    One more thing I forgot to add…..If you cant ACCEPT the consequences of having sex, (getting pregnant, STDs, AIDS), then DONT HAVE SEX!

  • Josh Gilchrist

    This is interesting because we have opinions from both extremes, Andrew and MaryAnn.

    MaryAnn- We are saying that abortion is a choice that a woman has to make. You said that a smart woman would not consider keeping the child and would automatically abort the pregnancy, with no thought her options. That is what people are complaining about

  • http://toniokruger.blogspot.com Tonio Kruger

    Whatever, Josh.

    Movie tastes are usually a lousy way to judge a person’s I.Q., anyway.

  • amanohyo

    I think MaryAnn has made it very clear multiple times that one of her main issues is that the movie never gives Alison the opportunity to consider any of her other options (abortion being the most obvious one). It also unfairly gives her no friends or family to talk to which forces her to be totally dependent on our hero, Ben.

    MaryAnn is not saying, as many of you claim, that it is impossible that a smart woman would decide to keep the child. She’s just saying that it is extremely unlikely, and given how unlikely it is and the fact that the entire movie hinges on her decision, it’s unsettling that the movie completely glosses over the decision-making process.

    I understand that many of you believe that as soon as a woman “allows” that little sperm to reach its destination, that it is her duty as a mother to let the little zygote be all it can be. Although, I obviously don’t agree, I begrudgingly respect that some people honestly feel that this is the “responsible” thing to do.

    However, the movie presents Alison as a character who is excited about the success she has earned independently. Why does she throw it all away without a second thought? Why is it wrong for her to have an abortion? The movie never lets us know, and this lack of insight into her character undermines the next 2+ hours of mediocre comedy for anyone who has an ounce of sensitivity.

    Think about it, nice and slow for a moment. Let’s say a young woman has gone to law school, gotten a degree, and just landed a great position at a prestigious firm. She goes out partying to celebrate and you know the rest. Let’s say the young girl is the most conservative woman on the planet; even then, it would be hard to swallow what happens in this movie without some reason, some weighing of options, some statement of values, something.

    This movie presents a situation that is even more unlikely than the one I outlined above and gives the audience nothing that comes close to explaining it. Any movie, even a comedy, that asks for a suspension of disbelief as vast as the this one needs to earn it. Lazy, inconsiderate main characters are excusable, but not lazy, inconsiderate character development.

  • MaryAnn

    Thanks, amanohyo, for making my point for me. Again.

  • Andrew

    WHY would she consider abortion? Maybe she WANTED to keep the baby. Is that wrong? Any responsible adult would go through with the pregnancy even though they made a mistake of having sex.

  • Andrew

    And……How do you know she didnt go through options OFF SCREEN after her mother told her to get an abortion? Maybe she realized it was BEST to keep the baby even though she made the mistake of getting drunk and having sex. Abortion is an option, but its the wrong one, because its MURDER.

  • Josh Gilchrist

    You know, I just realized there is that great scene where Alison is crying on the phone while calling Ben. She states “I’ve thought it over and I have decided to keep the baby.” Now, either she was contemplating an abortion or she was thinking of giving the baby to Brad and Angelina.

  • MaryAnn

    How do you know she didnt go through options OFF SCREEN

    As I and many other have said in this comments thread, the problem is, indeed, that it was OFFSCREEN.

    And though I’m sure you know this, Andrew, not everyone considers abortion murder.

  • MaryAnn

    She states “I’ve thought it over and I have decided to keep the baby.”

    And yet the film still devotes more time to Ben’s ignorance about the Web.

  • dave

    “And yet the film still devotes more time to Ben’s ignorance about the Web.”

    Probably because that’s meant to be funny, and this is a comedy. To dwell on the abortion question is to either turn this into a drama or a far darker comedy than Apatow is quite obviously trying to make.

    amanoyho – It’s not “extremely unlikely” that Alison would keep the baby. Abortion is not the automatic default for every intelligent, even pro-choice, woman. Perhaps it’s that I’ve known at least one smart, single, very pro-choice (worked at Planned Parenthood at one point, even) woman who ultimately decided to keep a baby, despite the obvious impact it would have on her life and the father being sort of a well-meaning slacker (not quite on the Ben level, but not all that different, in some ways). I never heard her exact reasoning, but I think it basically amounted to “it wasn’t the right choice for me.” That certainly seems the case with Alison, as well – I don’t need more than that. Sometimes, gut decisions just aren’t easily articulated.

    Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve actually viewed a nearly parallel situation that allows me to swallow Alison’s decision, but I think this goes beyond that single anecdote – I don’t believe “intelligent,” single women choosing to not abort (for ANY reason) is nearly as rare as you and MaryAnn think it is.

  • daryn

    Good one, Mary Ann. I have to say that I always look for your reviews on movies that I fear may be misogynistic since you are the ONLY consistently feminist movie reviewer out there. At least in America. But don’t leave the planet. There’s a lot of people who are not threatened by intelligent women. They just don’t seem to get movies made about them!

  • The Puking Clown

    Fuck! This movie/comment thread is like a damn Rorschach blot.

    Rarely do you get to see such naked fucking hatred masquerading as intellectual condescension; milktoast aggression; and so-called cultural critique masking an intellectual dick-measuring contest.

    Play nice and be polite. If you just want your prejudices confirmed, find the goddamn websites you like and stick with them. You control your blood pressure far more effectively that way.

    ‘cos the Internet is b-u-l-l-s-h-i-t for reasoned arguments. Safe behind your keyboard, you’ll bravely spout shit that if said in public would get you kicked in the face ’til spinal fluid ran out your nose.

    And what’s all this horseshit about ‘Oh I agreed with your reviews before but you’re way off base’? What, you going to change the password for the Secret Treehouse Club so the critic lady can’t come to the midnight meetings any more? Start your own fucking website/blog/bullshit-a-thon and put your goddamn thoughts in the public domain, you fucking pussies. Turning up to someone’s party then eating all the dip while criticising the decor is just fucking bad manners.

    (As for this movie, in 100 years time who’ll give a crap? I reckon they just cut the initial scene where Ben dropped some Rohypnol into Alison’s drink.)

  • Have standards

    This is an EXCELLENT review. Both my friend & I found the movie mildy amusing at times (yes, the hotel chair scene!), but you are spot-on with every one of your points. Didn’t have time to read every single comment, so sorry if this has already been covered, but my friend & I both thought the Right To Life Coalition or some other freaky, regressive anti-family planning group was behind it. Even with moments of cuteness (the little kids), it was a reprehensible movie. Perhaps holding up a sad & distasteful mirror to American society at this time. Amazing that many people don’t get what you’re saying. And as for critics who “love” the film: Learn about how movie companies get good reviews out of reviewers: Press junkets, gifts, hanging out with attractive movie stars. Lots of critics play “nice” because they want to keep getting invited back, etc. Wake up, people.

  • MaryAnn

    Learn about how movie companies get good reviews out of reviewers: Press junkets, gifts, hanging out with attractive movie stars. Lots of critics play “nice” because they want to keep getting invited back, etc.

    There is unquestionably some of that kind of thing going on, but I doubt this is a significant factor when a film gets many positive reviews. I doubt if any of the really major critics attend press junkets, for instance — other journalists from the major publications cover those events and write feature articles about them. Glowing feature articles, sure, but and sometimes those articles get quoted on posters and TV ads and such, but only when the studios can’t get positive quotes from the actual critics. Which is clearly not a problem when it comes to this film.

  • Josh

    How was the Right To Life Coalition behind the film if it shows her contemplating having an abortion? I doubt the Right To Life Coalition would be behind a film where a woman contemplates an abortion. If they were behind a film like this, it would step around the issue all together. Sure, it’s not handled much in this film, but it is handled. It’s a comedy for crying out loud! They are not going to have an hour discussion about how Alison should have an abortion. It was handled in the film. She implicates through her conversations that she was considering it.

  • Have standards

    Is it my imagination, or are all/most of the folks swearing that the abortion issue was handled appropriately men?
    As for this sorry piece of celluloid’s good reviews, I offer this tidbit from Mick LaSalle of the SF Chronicle: “A lot goes into a blockbuster’s getting good reviews: … (T)here’s the press junket, in which film critics from all over the country are flown into a posh hotel in Beverly Hills, given a free room for the weekend and a hundred dollars a day spending money. There, under the pretense of gathering news, the critics undergo the equivalent of Stalinist indoctrination sessions, in which they meet and talk with the director, the various actors, attend promotional events and get little trinkets and souvenirs to bring home. (The Chronicle staff doesn’t participate in press junkets, and on those rare occasions we do, the paper picks up the tab, not the studio.) 3) Through its publicity, the studio creates a narrative, a kind of explanation as to why the movie is good, even if it isn’t. It’s easier for critics to adopt that narrative rather than come up with their own ideas. 4) There’s the human element to consider, as well. After you’ve met and achieved the illusion of making friends with Kirsten Dunst, it’s difficult to trash her movie. You don’t want to hurt your new friend Kirsten’s feelings. 5) Then there’s the internal newspaper situation to consider. In small to medium-size papers, the critic is usually the film writer, too. That means that in the days leading up to the blockbuster’s opening, the newspaper would have already published the critic’s big, splashy advance piece about the movie, usually an interview with one of the lead actors. To follow that up with a pan would be disconcerting. In some cases, it would even be disappointing to some editors — that is, bad editors — who prefer to print happy news. 6) If you’re a critic, and you love going to junkets — which means you’re insane, but let’s just say you’re insane — you do want to keep getting invited to junkets, don’t you? I mean, you don’t want to get a reputation for being difficult, do you?

    All of this doesn’t necessarily guarantee good reviews, but you can see how it could easily help.”

  • Have standards

    Comments from the friend I saw it with: “i just couldn’t get it out of my head how far right the message felt, like sneaking it on us progressives by using some stoner dude??? like we’re all a bunch of pot smoking losers. That message would hit home? I don’t get it. I was offended by that movie really. So incredibly not how life is, I guess unless you’re from the bible belt? I have to remember who told me they liked this movie… I mean I can believe that she would keep the baby, although far fetched, whatever. But calling the one night stand who grossed her out??? NEVER. Absolutely never would happen. Who does that?”

  • MaryAnn

    A lot goes into a blockbuster’s getting good reviews: … (T)here’s the press junket, in which film critics from all over the country are flown into a posh hotel in Beverly Hills

    I’ve done some press junkets, and I’ve NEVER seen Jeffrey Lyons or Glenn Kenny (of Premiere) or Owen Gleiberman (EW) or Pete Travers (Rolling Stone) or any of the the really big-name critics at one. Which isn’t to say that they’ve never attended a junket — I’ve never been invited to the really fancy ones, and I’ve never had a studio fly me anywhere for any reason (I think I’d be way too uncomfortable with this, if I were ever asked). The journalists/critics who attend junkets are not the big names that Universal is quoting on this movie.

    Not that junkets aren’t problematic. For a taste of my experience at the Disney junket for *The Hitchhilker’s Guide to the Galaxy* a couple years, back, see here.

  • Have standards

    I am not up on all the reviews you refer to, MaryAnn. I’ll take your word for it that the “big name” critics are giving this dreck good reviews, but it makes my teeth hurt to accept that.
    Back to what my moviegoing pal mentioned: It was stomach-turning when this happening, successful woman called up her repellent one-night-stand and tried to force a relationship with him. True-to-life? I don’t think so! Blegh and feh.

  • Josh

    I never said the abortion issue was not handled. In fact, if you go back I wrote that it was not handled well. MaryAnn originally said it was not handled in the film at all, except for by the bad people for comic relief. Heigl’s character does deal with this issue on her own in the film but it’s such a short film. The main objection, and the thing which MaryAnn never backtracked on until she was getting so much flack over it, was that MaryAnn’s original idea was that any woman with any smarts would terminate the pregnancy. It’s obvious that MaryAnn and others on here support abortion, and that’s fine. I am Pro-Choice though and feel it is irresponsible for someone to blatantly declare such statements, especially if one wants to be considered a professional

  • MaryAnn

    Heigl’s character does deal with this issue on her own in the film but it’s such a short film.

    This is NOT a short film — it’s more than two hours long — and Heigl’s character does NOT deal with this issue on her own except to dismiss it in a single line of dialogue.

    It’s obvious that MaryAnn and others on here support abortion, and that’s fine. I am Pro-Choice though and feel it is irresponsible for someone to blatantly declare such statements, especially if one wants to be considered a professional

    What?! It’s unprofessional to state one’s beliefs? What on Earth does that mean?

  • dave

    I don’t want to speak for Josh, but I think the problem word is “smart.” “Smart” has nothing to do with the abortion issue. This blanket statement strikes me as just ridiculously insulting to all single women who opt to not have abortions, pro-choice or not. Like I said above, a pro-choice friend of mine was in a similar situation to Alison and she decided to have the baby. Call this decision moral, immoral, whatever, but don’t imply that the person who made it is stupid.

    Now, you can call me on my gender as “Have standards” did above, but I’m not the one suggesting that single women in Alison’s situation who don’t have abortions are stupid in such a way that stretches credibility. I believe being pro-choice carries with it the support of women being able to choose, but, furthermore, it also implies an acknowledgment that each women who makes her choice is perfectly smart enough to do so on her own. The movie isn’t pro-abortion nor is it anti-abortion; however, I have a hard time seeing an argument for it as being anti-choice. Alison definitely acknowledges that there’s a choice to be made, and she makes it.

  • Have standards

    I’m sure you fellas mean well, but it seems like an impossible discussion, at this time in our society. This movie, from a woman’s point of view, is beyond ridiculous — insulting even. It is utterly clueless. And I’m sorry to be playing the gender card, but sometimes it’s appropriate. You can do the same when it’s a movie about testicular cancer or castration. Maybe women won’t really get what your point of view would be about.

    In all 129 minutes of this movie, where are her conversations with her friends about her choices? Where are her friends? Do you think that women talk to their close friends when such a thing happens? Hello? You don’t have to know these things, but then if you don’t you might find it prudent to refrain from announcing your opinions as if you do know what life is like. You, and the filmmakers, don’t get what life is like for 50 percent of the population.

    It seems like absolutely no concept of the female experience went into any aspect of this movie — which, you could argue, is fine: It is what it is. But don’t pretend it’s otherwise. Why does abortion have to be the big unmentionable? So what if it’s a “comedy”? (Actually, it’s more like the most insultingly dumb and unpleasant of sophomoric slapsticks, and its success says something sad about this country.) Most people are aware that comedy and tragedy work best together. Comedies successfully incorporate things like death, betrayal, loss, humiliation, tyranny, etc. A comedy is better for not hiding from serious issues. Please don’t claim that abortion was “handled” or “dealt with”. It was only in the way that it would be in a snickering conversation among 12-year-old boys.

    And: Was anyone else as weirded out as I was at the crotch shots? I mean, crotch shots during a painful childbirth? What the f***??? So much of this movie is just cringe-worthy, as opposed to funny. How about a seriously sadistic gynecologist during labor? Other than, say, 11-year-old boys, does this seem funny to anyone?

  • Josh

    I found nothing wrong with the crowning scene, although I can see how some people would. To me, it’s a beautiful part of childbirth. Yes, it’s done for comedic effect, but I still was not turned off by it. When you say that it portrays the female persuasion in a bad light, it does the same for the male side and that is what I think redeems the film. Although I believe this is more true to life and romance than a romantic comedy, it’s still a very outrageous comedy. I don’t have much trouble with MaryAnn’s overall dislike for the film, she makes some valid points. It’s her comments on abortion that were disturbing. I have seen other critics that loved the film that also point out the lack of good female characterization in the film. One female critic that I recently read loved the film but was turned off by how the female characters were portrayed. Myself, the females here are not portrayed in any more negative light than they are in a majority of romantic comedies. MaryAnn loved Love Actually, as did I. But, even in the film there is a problem with the women being viewed as objects that are to be conquered by men. I can remember walking out of You’ve Got Mail thinking that I liked it but it would have been far better if Ryan had played the strong career minded business person and Hanks had played the vulnerable character.

  • Have standards

    I’m not saying this movie portrays the female persuasion in a bad light, just that it portrays women in an idiotic way. Women aren’t like that. Therefore, when women see the movie, we roll our eyes, or wince, or whatever. When men see the movie, maybe they are brainwashed into thinking that’s what women are like? I hope not. MaryAnn’s (and my) comments about the lack of a realistic approach to abortion in this movie directly relate to the lack of a realistic approach to women in this movie. Her comments, coming from a female perspective here, are not, as you say, disturbing. Sorry about that, but many, many women see the big picture about abortion.

    You make a good point about Meg Ryan & Tom Hanks.

  • Josh

    Funny since apparently Knocked Up is said to be a bigger hit with women than men. And you say that women do not act this way. I wonder what sheltered world some of you live in. I know a good number of women that act the way they do in the film. It’s not pretty. Apatow could have portrayed them better, but that does not mean that his vision is not real. I totally saw women I know in the Leslie Mann character. You are saying that her comments are coming from a female perspective, and that’s true. They are also coming from a non-married perspective. A person gains a whole new perspective about love and relationships when they get married.

  • Have standards

    I live in the “sheltered” world of the San Francisco Bay Area. And, okay, a lot of us out here are a hell of a lot more progressive, open-minded and humanistic than folks out in the bible belt or wherever. This movie is said to be a bigger hit with women than men? And this is said by who?

    My comments about the unrealistic nature of the way women are portrayed refer to some, not all of the behavior in the movie. Back to the big examples of cluelessness: Where are her girlfriend confidantes? Why would a woman like that pursue a relationship with this doofus-y stranger? Her character didn’t seem like a total airhead in other aspects of her life! Would a woman like this choose single motherhood over abortion for the simple reason of going against what her mother recommends? Oy.

    I didn’t say anyone’s comments are coming from a “female perspective.” Are you referring to MaryAnn? Actually, to some degree, my comments are coming from a female perspective, just as yours are coming from a male’s. So what? We can still recognise the perspective of the other.

    Honestly, I don’t think one’s marital status has a thing to do with being able to see through the holes in this script. Maybe one’s maturity level, and one’s compassion — in terms of being able to recognise the reality of another person instead of seeing everything through the lens of you and those just like you.

  • Have standards

    Oh, I see where you get that “female perspective” thing. I meant that, as I was commenting on what MaryAnn said, mine was a female perspective. Not hers. Her comments about the missing abortion topic in this movie, do not strike me — as a woman — as “disturbing”, but realistic.

    Isn’t it amazing the controversy this seemingly innocuous little movie has inspired? Now I’m waiting for the flip-side movie to come out, about a man dealing with a castration or an enhancement surgery gone awry, with slapstick humor and silly high-jinks, in which the issue of whether he’ll ever be able to have sex again is glossed over with a silly joke by a bunch of stoner chicks. Of course this movie will be entirely written, directed, and produced by women. And the main character, who is as handsome as George Clooney, will pursue a lifelong romantic relationship with an impoverished, homely loser girl that he just met, who is so selfish she leaves him to fend for himself during an earthquake. And they’ll live happily ever after.

  • MaryAnn

    Like I said above, a pro-choice friend of mine was in a similar situation

    Then your friend was not in a similar situation to Alison: your friend had at least one friend, you.

    I found nothing wrong with the crowning scene, although I can see how some people would. To me, it’s a beautiful part of childbirth.

    Perhaps, but the movie treats it as a gross, and as a joke. There was nothing at all “beautiful” in any way about it in the movie’s eye.

  • dave

    “Have standards,” I think you’re a little too hung up on what your idea of a “normal” woman’s life is like. Not all women (or men) have these huge support networks of friends that you and MaryAnn keep referring to. And there’s nothing in the movie that suggests that she doesn’t have friends somewhere – you just don’t see them. You also never meet Ben’s mother, which might shed some light on his relationships with women.

    The thing is that, in the movie’s shorthand, Alison’s abortion discussions take place within the context of family. I don’t think it’s all that unbelievable that such a personal issue would be something you discuss with your family and not your friends. And, even then, like I’ve been saying, it might not be something a woman wants to discuss much at all, but simply something she personally decides.

    Also, just so I’m clear, you just compared pregnancy to castration and botched surgery and implied that a man never being able to have sex again is somehow akin to a woman having a child, right? Oookay.

    Josh – I totally agree about the married perspective thing. Most of the comments I’ve read by married men and women tend to recognize Pete and Debbie as embodying slightly exaggerated versions of terrible tendencies we all feel from time to time. Being married does make you regard them a little bit differently, since it’s easier to comprehend how the dynamic works. For some single people, the Pete and Debbie subplot may just seem like a cautionary tale against marriage or as an outrageous, unbelievable stereotype. I recognized it as very true-to-life and all the more cautionary for it.

    MaryAnn – No, my friend wasn’t in EXACTLY the same situation Alison was in, but my point is that she didn’t really discuss her decision with her closest friends (my wife probably being her oldest, closest friend). If the story of her child’s birth were made into a movie, her friends would almost certainly be offscreen, because they weren’t really key to the story. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist.

    I agree that the crowning sequence was not played for beauty, but for shock – to an ultimately good and funny effect, though. My wife pointed out that it was a great comment on sexism. Ben’s bozo friends spent their time fixated on idealized sex and naked women and when one of them is confronted with the reality of sexuality, he can’t handle it.

  • Andrew

    Thank you Dave. My thoughts exactly.

  • Josh

    That’s another reason why some may have misinterpreted this film. The character of Allison is not put together at all. Her life is in shambles from the very start. Yes, she has a job and has been promoted but there are obvious issues of insecurity and childish behavior. If Ben is a Man Child than Allison is just as big of a Woman Child

  • Have standards

    I don’t see your logic that if someone finds a movie hokey it means they’re “hung up”. What’s so threatening about someone having access to a perspective that you never will? Can’t you just accept it and respect it?

    True, not all men have huge networks of friends. But a typical woman has close friends (I didn’t say a “huge network”) that she would tap into in time of crisis, like a pregnancy. Her friends would be pretty integral to that situation. It is totally unbelievable that she talks only to her mother and sister about it.

    Do you really not get the comparison to an unwanted pregnancy & possible abortion situation, to something going awry with a man’s plumbing? The comparison is: Here is something really important and having to do with one’s body and sexuality and future, in a way that people of one’s own gender can best understand. If men could get pregnant that comparison would be easier to make. Women have been forever enduring the male perspective in films, even when the films are about the female experience. Most of them get it wrong. It’s odd that some men can’t even acknowledge that.

    Interestingly, the films that mostly didn’t get it wrong were those made before the Hays Code of 1930.

  • dave

    Standards –
    It’s not that your perspective on the film is “threatening” or even “wrong.” It’s that you’re claiming it as “the woman’s perspective.” I would never claim that my view of the film is “the man’s perspective,” because it’s simply not. My problem is that you’re making claims on behalf of your gender in regard to the film that, from what I’ve witnessed, are simply not true. I know women (staunch feminists, in fact) who related to the characters (more closely than they’d like to, perhaps), and enjoyed it.
    ===

    True, not all men have huge networks of friends. But a typical woman has close friends (I didn’t say a “huge network”) that she would tap into in time of crisis, like a pregnancy. Her friends would be pretty integral to that situation. It is totally unbelievable that she talks only to her mother and sister about it.
    ===
    What’s a “typical” woman? As I’ve said, I know women who probably wouldn’t discuss with their friends a decision to keep an unplanned pregnancy (and one who, in fact, did not), and, if they did, those conversations would be, in no way, integral to the decision the woman ultimately would make. I don’t know how many times I can say that it’s not totally unbelievable. All I can say is that my friend must truly be so strange that she’s practically science-fiction-worthy, or that you’re making generalizations based on your own experiences/views that simply don’t apply across the board.

    Do you really not get the comparison to an unwanted pregnancy & possible abortion situation, to something going awry with a man’s plumbing? The comparison is: Here is something really important and having to do with one’s body and sexuality and future, in a way that people of one’s own gender can best understand.
    ===
    I get what you’re trying to do, but it’s probably the worst analogy I’ve ever seen. I don’t think it’s possible to come up with a good male analogy for pregnancy, actually, but castration is a particularly horrific one. As physically traumatic as pregnancy and childbirth may be, most mothers would claim that the end result was quite positive. I’m quite sure you would find very few castrated men with a similar sentiment. There’s usually no happy ending for the mutilated.

    If men could get pregnant that comparison would be easier to make. Women have been forever enduring the male perspective in films, even when the films are about the female experience. Most of them get it wrong. It’s odd that some men can’t even acknowledge that.
    ===
    I’ll certainly acknowledge that – most directors are men, and I recognize that as a huge flaw in the industry. The whole ‘male gaze’ thing popped up in film criticism for good and obvious reasons. I’m just thoroughly blown away that you think pregnancy is, in any way, comparable to castration. And I also think Apatow generally does a pretty good job with PEOPLE, male or female. Again, I encourage you to look back at his work on Freaks and Geeks, which was well-regarded, in large part, because of its realistic female protagonist.

  • Have standards

    For the record and to clarify, my perspective on this film is one woman’s perspective, not “the” woman’s perspective.

    I do have a point, and seem to have touched a nerve, about men not always recognising that women have a perspective.

    Again, I didn’t say the conversations a woman has with her friends about abortion would be integral to her decision. The conversations, and moral and emotional support would be integral to the women’s situation.

    If you know a woman who went ahead with her decision without talking to any friends, hard to believe, but I’m not in a position to debate what someone you know told you she did. But I’d wager that 99 percent of the women in your life have things like that in their past that they’d never tell you. Why, you might ask, would a woman not tell her male friends/relatives/whatever about things like abortions, rapes or attempted rapes, miscarriages? Lots of good reasons. The point is, women have experiences that men don’t. What’s the big deal? Men have experiences that women don’t quite get too. Women deal with things in ways that men don’t always understand. No need to be defensive. That attitude is part of the reason women don’t reveal things!

    I’m not trashing Apatow; I’m just discussing this particular film, and its flaws that are all-too-common in modern American movies.

  • dave

    I’m not being defensive (well, now I am – anyone have a good way to defend oneself from accusations of defensiveness?), and I don’t think it’s a revelation to anyone that women have a different perspective than men, generally speaking. I’m just saying I have a problem with the idea that Alison not having a bunch of friends with whom she would discuss her abortion is “unbelievable,” because it implies that there’s a single, normative approach that women take to life-changing decisions.

    I don’t see how this conversation became about what women will or will not talk about with men. My argument is that there are some things that a person of any gender might not talk about with friends (again, of any gender) at all.

    The crazy thing about this argument is that Alison DOES talk to her closest female friend (as far as we know) about it; it just so happens that her closest friend is her sister. Is that really so unusual? Most of the women in my life who have sisters DO tend to confide in them just as much, if not more, than their friends. Why is it so important that we see Alison have contact with non-blood-related women to accept her as a realistic human being? If Debbie is the best confidante she has, what in the world could a viewer learn about Alison’s decision by watching her discuss it with a friend with whom she’s LESS open?

  • Have standards

    What if, when members of a group (for example, women, but it could be another type of group) said they felt their kind was not being represented realistically, and that this was a recurring thing, and that it was offensive — what if members of the other group(s), instead of circling the wagons, actually stopped and said (sincerely), “Really? Tell me more. What can I learn here?” Wouldn’t that be interesting.

    Then we wouldn’t have this kind of nitpicky back & forth.

  • dave

    I do that sort of thing on a constant basis. I’m married to the smartest woman I know who’s in the process of writing a thesis with a HUUUGE feminist bent. I can’t think of a single one of our female friends who doesn’t define herself as a feminist. I am constantly made aware of gender disparities I hadn’t noticed previously, my preconceived notions are challenged all of the time, and, very often, they’re proven quite wrong.

    The problem, as I see it, is that your argument just isn’t all that convincing, and you’re now falling back on the fact that I’m a man, thus somehow unwilling to treat your view seriously. I do take your view seriously, which is why I’ve tried to respond your points as fully as possible (the “nitpicky back & forth” as you say). I’m not obliged, because of my gender, to throw up my arms and just allow you to make claims on behalf of women everywhere, because I KNOW intelligent feminists who have seen Knocked Up, and they didn’t have the same problems with it that you did. You’re not speaking on their behalf; you’re only speaking for yourself. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this (it’s what critics, MaryAnn included, do for a living), but I think it’s disingenuous to present your view as representative of a group so that they have greater weight. Your arguments should be evaluated on their own merit, not on the basis that they’re the opinions of an entire oppressed group.

  • MaryAnn

    Not all women (or men) have these huge support networks of friends that you and MaryAnn keep referring to.

    Just for the record, I never said “huge support network” either.

    And there’s nothing in the movie that suggests that she doesn’t have friends somewhere – you just don’t see them.

    Right. And there’s nothing in the movie that suggests that Alison wasn’t abducted by aliens while passed out drunk after having sex with Ben: aliens who removed his seed and impregnated her with their own alien/human hybrid. We just don’t see it.

    The thing is that, in the movie’s shorthand, Alison’s abortion discussions take place within the context of family. I don’t think it’s all that unbelievable that such a personal issue would be something you discuss with your family and not your friends.

    So then we might as well say that sex is such a personal issue that it shouldn’t be depicted on film. Or childbirth. Or anything that humans generally don’t do in public. Which of those too “personal” matters the filmmakers chose to depict and which they chose not to depict says something about what they are trying to say.

    Also, just so I’m clear, you just compared pregnancy to castration and botched surgery and implied that a man never being able to have sex again is somehow akin to a woman having a child, right? Oookay.

    How about this: pregnancy is something that has long term implications for a woman’s body. Pregnancy changes a woman’s body in a way that cannot be undone. The analogy with castration is not exact, but it’s not wildly out of place, either.

  • Have standards

    What she said.

  • dave

    Would you be arguing about aliens if I had complained that the movie was unrealistic because Apatow didn’t show the sperm fertilizing the egg, didn’t show Alison constantly urinating because of the pressure in her womb, and didn’t show Pete masturbating into the towel (hey, how do we know that Debbie wasn’t making that up???)? Of course not. Filmic language does not require all obvious events to be depicted on film. Chances are that Alison has friends – her best one happens to be her sister, and she functions as a stand-in for the rest.

    My argument is FAR from “abortion is too personal an issue to discuss in a movie.” It IS discussed somewhat in the movie. My argument is: “I don’t think it’s all that unbelievable that such a personal issue would be something you discuss with your family and not your friends.” I’m not sure how you get one from the other. You have unreasonably strict criteria for this particular issue – not only must abortion be discussed, but it must be discussed in depth with non-related female friends for this aspect of the film (which isn’t, by-and-large, “about” abortion) to be believable.

    The castration/pregnancy analogy is wildly out-of-place especially if you’re trying to establish it within the context of comedy. Most women I know who speak of their pregnancies in retrospect do so with some ironic distance from the physical pain of it (just as some people do of illnesses with no lingering consequences). There’s no such ironic distance for the castrated (male or female).

    Even if you ignore the fact that pregnancy has longstanding effects on THREE people (physical and psychological on both mother and child, psychological on father), it more often than not is viewed as a positive occurrence, and the mother, while physically changed in some ways, is still capable of doing everything that she was capable of doing prior to childbirth. A woman isn’t “broken” after pregnancy (in fact, to argue that she is is dangerously close to claiming she’s “used goods” or something similarly sexist and unsavory); the castrated man is.

    I’d argue that, in reverse, the most obvious cross-gender analogy to be made to male castration is the female genital mutilation practiced in some cultures, something that is generally not thought of as comparable to pregnancy.

  • MaryAnn

    A woman isn’t “broken” after pregnancy (in fact, to argue that she is is dangerously close to claiming she’s “used goods” or something similarly sexist and unsavory)

    That’s a stretch.

    the castrated man is.

    How about the circumsized man, then? Can we make fun of circumcision in a movie? Would that be okay?

  • dave

    A stretch? I’m not the one who made a comparison between castration and pregnancy. What exactly is the comparison Standards was trying to make if not that both castrated men and women who have given birth are somehow harmed or “broken” by the experience? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t that both are left with the warm, fuzzy feeling of having brought a life into the world.

    I never said you CAN’T make fun of castration. Make fun to your heart’s content. I’m just saying that it’s not at all comparable to pregnancy.

    Neither is male circumcision, which is barely a blip in terms of life-changing physical events. The bris is practically a staple of Jewish comedy. It’s also not comparable to pregnancy for entirely different reasons than castration isn’t. Even an adult opting for circumcision wouldn’t leave you with much of a film – once the snipping’s done and the healing takes place, I can’t imagine one’s life would be very changed.

    Other things that have a physical impact on people that aren’t comparable to pregnancy:

    Losing a limb
    Getting one’s ears pierced
    Having a heart transplant
    Eating a hamburger
    Popping a pimple
    Having cancer
    Getting AIDs
    Being diagnosed as nearsighted
    Becoming Robocop
    Having tapeworms

  • Andrew

    Why should abortion even be an issue at all? Is it wrong that she WANTED to keep the baby?

  • MaryAnn

    Why should abortion even be an issue at all?

    Because the option is part of the reality of women’s experience. And it has been since the beginning of time.

    Is it wrong that she WANTED to keep the baby?

    No one is saying that. Nice try, though.

    What exactly is the comparison Standards was trying to make if not that both castrated men and women who have given birth are somehow harmed or “broken” by the experience?

    How about that the experience *forever changes* a person’s body, positivity or negativity of the experience aside?

  • Have standards

    Pregnancy also has the distinction of having the potential to change one’s sexuality in ways, which can be scary.

    And Dave, how do you know that castration causes a man to be “broken”? It used to be a common practice, to keep a young man in the chorus. Do you know any castrati? Just wondering. I heard some of them were still sexually active.

    As I said, the comparison is shaky, because men don’t get preggers. (And if they did, one can’t help but wonder if abortions would be on the verge of becoming outlawed.) Can women be “harmed” by pregnancy? Women used to die from it all the time. It’s still a pretty dangerous thing to go through — more dangerous than abortion by far.

    And speaking of things this movie tiptoed around, it seems like the impoverished schlub who got her pregnant would at least have considered consulting an attorney. Perhaps one of his pals might have warned him about the financial & legal responsibility. In reality, that would be a big consideration for a man. I’m surprised none of the guys picked up on that.

  • Have standards

    Maybe an explanation for this whole controversy is that, sense of humor-wise, there are two types of people:
    – Those who laugh at Three Stooges-type humor of people yelling and hitting each other and acting really stupid; and
    – Those who find humor in real life situations and human nature.

    Just a thought.

  • amanohyo

    Woody Allen is a huge Groucho Marx fan. For a more mundane example, I enjoy Annie Hall, Heathers, and Raising Arizona, but I also enjoy Austin Powers, Young Frankenstein, and The Naked Gun.

    How would you categorize a movie like Punch-Drunk Love? People yell,hit each other, and act stupid, but many of the situations and depictions of human nature seem far more accurate than anything in Knocked Up.

    While I understand that categories and generalizations are a necessary evil, it’s hopeless to try to force them onto something as subjective as comedy… In fact, there are very few absolute categories when it comes to anything relating to human beings. Even something like man/woman gets a little gray now and then (especially in the Bay area).

  • Have standards

    I’m a huge Groucho Marx fan too. Young Frankenstein is a masterpiece of farcical silliness.

    Have’t seen Punch Drunk Love, so I can’t comment.

    My suggesting that “there are two kinds of people” was toungue-in-cheek. I feel that there’s some truth to the Three Stooges comment though, and it doesn’t involve forcing categories onto comedy. It just involves being perceptive.

    It reminds me of when I go to a theatre to watch a silent film. There’s always a bunch of people in the audience who laugh at inappropriate moments (before you tear into me for that, read on). Usually either they’re interpreting the movie through modern eyes and not accepting the film for what it is (a work from another time) — or, often it’s because something violent happens to one of the characters. Simple violence seems to be enough to make many people laugh uproariously. I don’t equate that to Groucho Marx, Annie Hall, Young Frankenstein…

    Those audience members are the people with the kind of sense of humor that would find the hospital crowning scene funny, I guess. And much else about Knocked Up. Which maybe explains some of its appeal? But it still doesn’t make its deafening abortion silence, or its attractive-smart-woman-desperately-pursues-schlumpy-guy plot more palatable.

  • MaryAnn

    Woody Allen is a huge Groucho Marx fan.

    Wait: Is someone suggesting that the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges are somehow equivalent?!

  • http://www.dubhsidhestudios.com bonnie-ann black

    >>Maybe an explanation for this whole controversy is that, sense of humor-wise, there are two types of people:
    – Those who laugh at Three Stooges-type humor of people yelling and hitting each other and acting really stupid; and
    – Those who find humor in real life situations and human nature.

  • Have standards

    Amanohyo, that is a pretty incomprehensible comparison you make between the Three Stooges and Groucho Marx (and Young Frankenstein!). What’s up with that!

    Andrew, above, asking, “Why should abortion even be an issue at all?” — even though MaryAnn commented on that, I’d like to further add that many of us are really worried right now about the Bush administration, and the lunatic fringe far right that it’s affiliated with, taking away our rights. So, it’s not like the movie glossed over her getting dental work, or a face lift — those things are not about to become illegal. Hence the offensivenesss of this movie steering clear of abortion, as though it’s too controversial to go near or something. If the filmmaker didn’t want to touch the issue, he shouldn’t have made a movie about a woman who gets “Knocked Up” (what a twee title).

    I’m with Bonnie Ann Black on this one; I didn’t want to see it either, based on what it seemed to be. I went because a friend dragged me to it.

  • dave

    “Pregnancy also has the distinction of having the potential to change one’s sexuality in ways, which can be scary.”

    So does puberty. What puberty and pregnancy have in common is that they’re natural processes. Castration is the result of harm visited upon someone.

    “And Dave, how do you know that castration causes a man to be “broken”?”

    The very GOAL of castration is to disrupt a natural function. I can’t believe I have to further explain this. Even if you don’t accept that castration causes mental anguish, it results in the intentional physical wounding of someone.

    “It used to be a common practice, to keep a young man in the chorus. Do you know any castrati? Just wondering. I heard some of them were still sexually active.”

    Yeah. You know why we don’t do that anymore? Because it’s considered barbaric! If you consider a man impregnating a woman inherently barbaric, then you’ve got more issues than can be addressed in a movie comment thread.

    As for whether castrati were still sexually active, what does that have to do with anything? Their ability to produce children was forcibly removed. How this is, in any way, comparable in scope or even situation to the AVERAGE post-pregnancy life of an insured, healthy, 21st century woman in a developed nation, I’m not sure.

    “As I said, the comparison is shaky, because men don’t get preggers. (And if they did, one can’t help but wonder if abortions would be on the verge of becoming outlawed.) Can women be “harmed” by pregnancy? Women used to die from it all the time. It’s still a pretty dangerous thing to go through — more dangerous than abortion by far.”

    This is all true. And has absolutely nothing to do with your analogy. CAN pregnancy be dangerous? Sure. But a successful one means a healthy mother and a healthy baby. A successful castration means a wounded man.

    Meanwhile, I can’t believe you went back to the “why is the pretty woman with the schlumpy guy?” chestnut. This isn’t the King of Queens where the relative attractiveness of the couple is inexplicable. It’s the main PLOT POINT that Seth Rogen doesn’t look like George Clooney! Plus, he’s, at worst, Hollywood ugly. The guy’s no troll.

  • Have standards

    Puberty is basically onward & upward. Pregnancy is a disruption, even a good one. Women don’t die from puberty, or need stitches to sew up tears, continually feel like throwing up, have their bodies drained of nutrients for almost a year, have to interrupt their careers, etc. Puberty doesn’t cause the same kind of wear & tear on the body, and doesn’t have the same kind of financial, physical, and other implications for your future.

    You’re kind of making my point for me there: Pregnancy, like castration, can “cause mental anguish”. It can result in the “physical wounding of someone”. Thank you.

    Castration does still happen, for medical reasons, though rare. And some men, believe it or not, elect to have it done. Although, this point is being beaten into the ground; I already said it was not the best analogy, because men don’t get pregnant.

    Who said a man getting a woman pregnant was barbaric! You’re kind of stretching there, Dave.

    As for the smart, gorgeous, successful woman goes with the loser, schlumpy, socially inept guy: Yes, it’s the plot point. It’s the main plot point in bazillions of movies. That’s my point. Whose fantasy is that? Not us women. It’s a “chestnut” all right, but it’s not MY chestnut. It’s Hollywood’s chestnut, and boy is it tired. And offensive. Thanks for understanding.

  • amanohyo

    Although the Marx Brothers are vastly, vastly, vastly superior to the Three Stooges, you can’t deny that as clever and talented as they are, a lot of their comedy is slapstick in nature.

    But yes, you’re right, it’s an insult to the Marx Brothers to equate the two. Groucho has more wit in his pinkie than all six stooges combined. I apologize if I offended any Marx Bros. fans with my comparison. (vast)

  • amanohyo

    Allow me to backpedal a little further. After some consideration, I realize that very little of the Marx bros. comedy could be classified as slapstick.

    As a child I used to watch the stooges, Marx bros., and Young Frankenstein almost every week, so they all kind of got smeared together in my mind.

    Ummm… carry on with the castrations

  • dave

    I covered this: “CAN pregnancy be dangerous? Sure. But a successful one means a healthy mother and a healthy baby. A successful castration means a wounded man.” You can de-contextualize what I’ve written to support your wacky points, but that’s really the essence right there.

    If you don’t get how this distinction makes all the difference in the world in terms of this analogy, then I’ve got nothing. Should you ever become pregnant, I sincerely wish, for your sake, that it NOT be at all similar to castration.

    The plot of this movie isn’t “your fantasy?” Is that really what movies are supposed to be? Does this movie really come off as a “fantasy” to you? This movie, in which marriage seems like hard work, at best, and a nightmare at worst? In which Ben’s relationship with Alison is anything but smooth and ends up on an ambiguous note? In which Ben ultimately ends up seeing Alison de-glamorized via the messy physical and emotional business of pregnancy? How is this a male fantasy?

    I’m having a hard time buying that it’s “offensive” that an average-looking person can be romantically involved with an attractive person, regardless of gender. If so, I guess I’m engaging in an offensive relationship, because I consider myself quite average-looking and my wife quite attractive. I recognize there’s a gender disparity in how these relationships are portrayed onscreen, but “offensive?” Give me a break. Plus, one of the greatest examples of unorthodox romantic pairups is probably Harold and Maude, and, while Bud Cort’s no Katherine Heigl, you’d have a tough time making the argument that he’s the less attractive of the couple.

    The movies that actually treat attractiveness gaps as main plot points aren’t really all that common. Most movies with beautiful girl-average guy pairings don’t even bother to address the topic (see aforementioned Adam Sandler comedies). Now, THAT I can see as problematic and even offensive, perhaps. THOSE are fantasies. This one is practically a deconstruction of those – it actually DOES address the point. It acknowledges the issue and makes an attempt to explain how it works in this one, particular situation. It takes what might be considered a fantasy premise and roots it in the real (if somewhat heightened – it still has the trappings of a broad comedy in some respects, after all). For you, that attempt failed. For me and many others, it worked.

    I really don’t care whether you or MaryAnn liked it. Comedy is subjective. What bothers me is that you seem to want it to be something entirely different than what it is. You think it has a cultural agenda that it doesn’t possess (or, alternately, that it has a cultural agenda in that it doesn’t address the cultural point – abortion – you want addressed). I typically think this is the ultimate cop-out when it comes to film criticism, but I think that you don’t “get it.” At all. Which is weird, since it’s not a very complicated movie to get.

  • sabrina

    A few comments…

    – On the issue of Allison falling for Ben:

    There are quite a few times when Allison says out loud during the film, “I’m never attracted to guys like you” implying that she IS falling for Ben. Additionally, Allison isn’t supposed to be some supermodel. She’s a regular woman who is struggling with insecurities just like all women do. She was incredulous that E! wanted to promote her to an on camera position and was so unsure of the status of her job that she hid the fact that she was pregnant for fear of being fired. These are not actions of a woman who is confident and self-assured of her looks and job abilities. Lastly, the number one trait that females say they want in a man is humor. Ben is a funny guy and that’s clearly what Allison was attracted to at the club. At the time they met, neither was particularly wasted so alcohol was only partially responsible for their hook up. There’s no magical explanation for why Allison went home with Ben. He made her laugh.

    – On taking Ben back:

    Allison initially calls Ben because she went into labor and felt he had a right to be there, but we literally see her soften her stance on him after she realized he took the pregnancy seriously by reading the baby books. Further, Allison’s major problem with Ben wasn’t that she wasn’t attracted to him (as mentioned above, we see her admit that she likes him numerous times), but that she didn’t feel safe with him as he couldn’t support her financially or emotionally.

    When Ben shows some responsibility by finding out what happened to their doctor and coming up with the great suggestion of calling doctors they’ve already seen as a back up, she feels comforted. When Ben tells the doctor in the delivery room to give Allison a break, she realizes that he is there for her. By the end of the film, Allison comes to the realization that she can count on Ben. That’s why she takes him back.

    – On the friend issue:

    We do see Allison’s friends in the film, when she runs into them outside of the baby store. It’s clear that she didn’t feel comfortable talking to them about her relationship with Ben, let alone whether or not she should have an abortion. What’s clearly shown is that Debbie is Allison’s sounding board, and she is the person who Allison confides in. I’m not really sure why this is an issue for people.

  • Have standards

    Dave, my point wasn’t that this or any movie is supposed to be my fantasy. If you’re denying that common theme of the attactive woman going for the homely guy with not much to offer, you’re not doing much for your credibility. Not that you have much credibility after calling my points “wacky”.

    Interesting point about Alison being “deglamorized” during the childbirth scenes. Maybe that was some (conscious or unconscious) attempt to uglify Alison, the way some misogynistic men like to humiliate women they can never have. Oh, I can’t wait for the vitriol about this one!

    Again, Dave, no one’s saying it’s offensive that an average-looking person can be romantically involved with an attractive person. Harold and Maude aside, this formula is almost always skewed in the way we all know it is. Why is this offensive? If you’re a straight guy, imagine if mainstream Hollywood movie after mainstream Hollywood movie portrayed straight guys as falling for old, homely gay guys. And you noticed these kind of gay guys looking at you in that certain way, everywhere you went. Then you’d have a slight inkling of what it’s like. Additionally, you might become a little exasperated with that plot line; you go to a movie to be entertained, not to be insulted.

    Knocked Up does adress this issue in the beginning. For example, the awkward morning-after scene was successful. However, then the movie does an about-face and has her pursuing a romantic relationship with this total stranger. In real life, I would say that woman needs a therapist to deal with her self-esteem issues.

    Sabrina: Alison’s initial call to Ben wasn’t when she was going into labor; it was when she first found out she was pregnant. I could see her wanting to be ethical and keep him in the loop, but I (and my friends) found it so weird that she tried to force a relationship with him. So he doesn’t act like a 100 percent trogdolyte in the delivery room, he’s not an ax-murderer. Might as well settle for him! So she takes him back — back to what, smoking dope, watching for tits-n-ass scenes for his website, seeing him run out of falling buildings without checking on her safety.

    Alison’s friends: Not sure how anyone would get the impression those women outside the baby store were her friends. They seemed like distant co-workers. Who has friends like that? Again, if those WERE her friends, this should have been a movie about Alison getting herself into therapy to learn how to relate to people in an honest, non-desperate way. In the real world, women tend to have real friendships.

    It’s always odd when someone who doesn’t want to venture out of his comfort zone calls your opinion “the ultimate cop-out”. I guess you either get certain things, or you don’t. Oh, and by the way, abortion isn’t just a “cultural agenda” to some of us, Dave. Might make a note of that.

  • Have standards

    On another note, I have to give this movie credit for its very funny portrayal of the jealous, undercutting assistant or whatever she was, who makes passive-aggressive asides to poor Alison whenever she’s in the boss’s office. That was a great send-up of the kind of person who does that.

  • dave

    “If you’re denying that common theme of the attactive woman going for the homely guy with not much to offer, you’re not doing much for your credibility.”

    Hi. I’m the guy who wrote this: ‘I recognize there’s a gender disparity in how these relationships are portrayed onscreen, but “offensive?”‘ If you’re so concerned with credibility, you might want to try reading the posts to which you’re responding.

    Your point that pregnancy and castration are analoguous simply because both can cause “mental anguish” is, indeed, wacky. I don’t think I’d be losing credibility in too many eyes by saying that. Lots of things cause “mental anguish.”

    “Interesting point about Alison being “deglamorized” during the childbirth scenes. Maybe that was some (conscious or unconscious) attempt to uglify Alison, the way some misogynistic men like to humiliate women they can never have. Oh, I can’t wait for the vitriol about this one!”

    Ya know, I’ve been pretty non-vitriolic despite the implication that I’m some sort of misogynist who has a problem with “a woman’s perspective.” My argument is with YOUR perspective, so I’d appreciate you not painting it that way. As for why Alison was de-glamorized during her pregnancy… well, you’re the one claiming that the movie was unrealistic. Are you now going to argue that it would be more realistic if Alison was immaculately well-kept until the moment of conception?

    “If you’re a straight guy, imagine if mainstream Hollywood movie after mainstream Hollywood movie portrayed straight guys as falling for old, homely gay guys. And you noticed these kind of gay guys looking at you in that certain way, everywhere you went. Then you’d have a slight inkling of what it’s like. Additionally, you might become a little exasperated with that plot line; you go to a movie to be entertained, not to be insulted.”

    So it’s Hollywood that makes unattractive men lust after attractive women? Seriously, that’s your argument?

    I still don’t see why it should ever be insulting that an attractive person fall in love with an unattractive person. I don’t care if the situation is straight or gay or who the respective attractive and unattractive people are. I’ll buy unrealistic. I’ll buy unrepresentative. If you’re a ravishing goddess with Knocked Up-inspired creeps who look like Seth Rogen pursuing you constantly, maybe I’ll even buy “inconvenient.” But “insulting?”

    And if Alison has self-esteem issues simply because she becomes interested in a funny, nice guy like Ben who doesn’t happen to look like Brad Pitt, I’ll just say it: what kind of shallow person are you, exactly? Do you tell your attractive friends to break up with people when they don’t meet your personal standards of physical attractiveness?

    As I’ve said before, I have no problem venturing out of “my comfort zone.” Please don’t try to call me on some bullshit anti-choice sentiment. It doesn’t follow from my posts at all (might make a note of that).

    You’re right. Abortion isn’t a cultural agenda. I didn’t call it one – I called it a “cultural point.” This is probably not the most eloquent term for it, but I made the distinction between it and the cultural agenda that YOU have for a reason. Abortion is what it is (of course, if you don’t see how both sides on the issue have agendas – right or wrong – I think we have more a problem with vocabulary than politics here). The “agenda” comes into play in this context when you demand that the abortion issue be represented more than it already is in this movie to pass the arcane criteria you’ve set up for it.

    Also, if you read more carefully, you’d notice that I called not your opinion, but my criticism of YOU as “not getting it” the ultimate copout. It’s generally bad form to assume that someone who doesn’t share your tastes about something just “doesn’t get it.” But the way I see it, you not only don’t like the movie, you actually don’t seem to understand it.

  • MaryAnn

    So it’s Hollywood that makes unattractive men lust after attractive women?

    No, it’s Hollywood that promulgates extremely narrow ideas of what constitutes gender norms, romance, sex, and romantic and sexual attraction.

    And if Alison has self-esteem issues simply because she becomes interested in a funny, nice guy like Ben who doesn’t happen to look like Brad Pitt.

    Do you really think that’s what’s going on with Alison? Can you please explain what the hell Alison sees in Ben at all?

    Alison has self-esteem problems simply because the ONLY reason she is at all “interested” in Ben is because he fathered her baby. That’s it. She is trying to force romance into a relationship in which it doesn’t exist, and (if Pete and Debbie are any measure, and we are led to believe that we SHOULD see them as a measure of a “successful” marriage) then romance never will be there.

    I don’t see why that’s so hard to understand.

  • sabrina

    Have standards:

    “Sabrina: Alison’s initial call to Ben wasn’t when she was going into labor; it was when she first found out she was pregnant.”

    Please read where my comments were in regards to “Allison taking Ben back”.

    “So he doesn’t act like a 100 percent trogdolyte in the delivery room, he’s not an ax-murderer. Might as well settle for him! So she takes him back — back to what, smoking dope, watching for tits-n-ass scenes for his website, seeing him run out of falling buildings without checking on her safety.”

    Did you miss the part where Ben cleaned up his act (read: stopped smoking dope, got a “real” job, did everything he could to ensure Allison had a smooth delivery)? Because your comments make it seem like you either checked out of the movie or are deliberately ignoring Ben’s growth as a person.

    “Alison’s friends: Not sure how anyone would get the impression those women outside the baby store were her friends. They seemed like distant co-workers. Who has friends like that? Again, if those WERE her friends, this should have been a movie about Alison getting herself into therapy to learn how to relate to people in an honest, non-desperate way. In the real world, women tend to have real friendships.”

    I’m a female. I live in the real world. There are lots of insecure people who have friendships that are less than ideal. But beyond that, the movie establishes that Debbie is Allison’s closest confidant so any discussion about why Allison doesn’t discuss her relationship issues with other people is moot. She doesn’t have to as she already has someone she discusses these issues with.

  • sabrina

    “Do you really think that’s what’s going on with Alison? Can you please explain what the hell Alison sees in Ben at all?”

    He’s a nice guy. He makes her laugh. What’s so difficult to understand about that?

  • Have standards

    “…you might want to try reading the posts to which you’re responding.”

    I stand by my comments to your post; I can’t help you any more than that.

    ————

    “Your point that pregnancy and castration are analoguous simply because both can cause “mental anguish” …”

    Wow. That’s not what I said at all. I said it was not the best analogy because men don’t get pregnant. And I listed many ways in which there are similiarities (as did MaryAnn).

    ————

    “… the implication that I’m some sort of misogynist who has a problem with “a woman’s perspective.” My argument is with YOUR perspective, so I’d appreciate you not painting it that way.”

    First, I’m not sure how you think I’m “painting” it. Second, I don’t care if you have a problem with my perspective. I’ll paint things any way I like. For the record, if you think I’m characterizing you in some way, I’m not — I’m talking about the movie, not you. Sorry.

    ————

    Regarding the crotch shots during labor: “Are you now going to argue that it would be more realistic if Alison was immaculately well-kept until the moment of conception? ”

    As MaryAnn pointed out before, it’s interesting what the movie choses to get into detail about.

    ————

    “So it’s Hollywood that makes unattractive men lust after attractive women? Seriously, that’s your argument? ”

    No, my argument is as I commented. If you don’t get it yet, think about it quietly for a while or something.

    ————

    “You think it has a cultural agenda that it doesn’t possess (or, alternately, that it has a cultural agenda in that it doesn’t address the cultural point – abortion – you want addressed).”

    For many of us, abortion is more than a “cultural agenda” or “cultural point”. Just so you know.

    For the record, neither I, nor anyone I spoke with about this movie, found the Ben character anything like funny or nice. Alison doesn’t even seem to really like him. She’s kind of a robot, character-development-wise.

  • Have standards

    “sabrina”:

    “– On taking Ben back: Allison initially calls Ben because she went into labor and felt he had a right to be there”

    As I said, Alison initially called Ben when she discovered she was pregnant. Calling him during her labor happened later in the film. Maybe you meant to say that she took him back when she called him during her labor? It’s that word “initially” that skews what you’re saying.

    ———-

    “Did you miss the part where Ben cleaned up his act (read: stopped smoking dope, got a “real” job, did everything he could to ensure Allison had a smooth delivery)? ”

    That all happened WAY after Alison had been trying to force a romantic relationship with Ben. But hey, at least he wasn’t still demonstratably self-involved, stoned, broke, and peddling girly pics. What a catch.

    ———-

    “the movie establishes that Debbie is Allison’s closest confidant so any discussion about why Allison doesn’t discuss her relationship issues with other people is moot.”

    What kind of character developement is that? This is a movie; she’s supposed to be realistic and/or interesting in some way — other than being really pretty to look at. Unless Alison has some serious intimacy issues or is has some psychological problems we don’t know about, she would have real friends. How is that moot?

  • MaryAnn

    He’s a nice guy. He makes her laugh. What’s so difficult to understand about that?

    I’m not sure I remember scenes in which she either seems to think he’s nice or scenes in which he makes her laugh. I do remember that uncomfortable restaurant scene in which Ben makes Pete laugh and Alison completely doesn’t get Ben’s jokes and in fact seems actively disgusted by him. (And yet then goes home and has completely awful and unromantic sex with him — why? because she’s trying to make this relationship something it isn’t.)

    There IS that one bit where she’s watching Ben playing with her sister’s kids in the yard, and she says something like, “He’s nice, right?” But she seems to be trying to convince herself of that, more than she’s trying to convince her sister of that.

    So please tell me where she finds him either funny or nice. Not that “funny and nice” is any kind of real basis for a long-term, intimate relationship, but still…

  • Andrew ANDERSON

    MaryAnn, are you a feminist? I ask because it seems that you dont think a young pretty successful woman cant have a relationship with an overweight slob. I know many relationships like that. And one more thing….its a FUCKING MOVIE, not real life. Though its weird how true to life (where im from) this fucking movie really is. And….i know people whom agree with me that abortion is murder. Am I a Conservative Christian? YES. Does that make my opinion any less important? NO.

  • Josh

    You are starting to talk crazy again. Did you even see the same movie as everyone else? There are a TON of scenes that give the indication that Alison likes Ben. Even before she gets drunk with him, you can tell there is a spark between them that she is interested in. If she really thought he was this obscene crazy slob, would she have decided to have stayed with him when her sister ditched the club? I think her feelings of sickness and guilt after she slept with him had a lot more to do with the fact that she was ashamed at having a one night stand and getting pregnant over it. I never saw any indication that she was revolted by Ben himself and I doubt that most others did either. The scene where she runs into her friends outside of the baby store could be mistaken as such, but even there I think it was more how she she was embarrassed to be seen buying baby clothes when she did not want anyone to know about the pregnancy. My sister was like that when she and her husband first got pregnant. I can probably count a good number of times when he makes her laugh. When she is crying to him on the phone after having to make the difficult decision of whether to abort the pregnancy or not, he makes her laugh. When they are shopping for baby clothes, he makes her laugh. When he is over for breakfast and playing with the kids, he makes her laugh. When they are driving home with the baby, he makes her laugh. If she was so repulsed by the man, would she really have a picture of him by her office at work?

    Your comments are proving the point that you really do not understand how adult women think or how adult relationships work.

  • Josh

    And after they are buying the baby books, who takes the others hand as they are walking down the street? Alison takes Ben’s hand. I can’t believe you did not pick up on any of this MaryAnn. I thought you were more observant than that. I guess it just proves one thing about you. You had your mind made up about the film before you even saw it. Either that or you are a very shallow person

  • Josh Gilchrist

    Okay, just saw this too

    Not that “funny and nice” is any kind of real basis for a long-term, intimate relationship, but still…

    Where in the hell do you get the priorities for your relationships? I think most people would agree with me that personality, meaning sense of humor and “niceness,” are the most important things to look for in a person.

  • sabrina

    “As I said, Alison initially called Ben when she discovered she was pregnant. Calling him during her labor happened later in the film. Maybe you meant to say that she took him back when she called him during her labor? It’s that word “initially” that skews what you’re saying.”

    Am I not speaking English? Don’t the words “take back” infer that there was some sort of relationship to be taking something back from? Allison and Ben had a one night stand. At the time she made the phone call you keep referring to, Allison hadn’t spoken to Ben for 8 weeks prior to that phone call. There wasn’t a relationship then. After Ben and Allison had a relationship and had officially broken up, the “initial” phone call Allison made wasn’t to reconcile with Ben. It was because she had no one to turn to when she went into labor. This is basic reading comprehension here.

    ———-
    “That all happened WAY after Alison had been trying to force a romantic relationship with Ben. But hey, at least he wasn’t still demonstratably self-involved, stoned, broke, and peddling girly pics. What a catch.”

    Again, I have no idea what you are talking about. My comments were about why Allison “takes Ben back” and then you post, “So she takes him back — back to what, smoking dope, watching for tits-n-ass scenes for his website, seeing him run out of falling buildings without checking on her safety.” I then call you out for missing the point where Ben cleans up his act, and you respond by saying “that happened after they had already tried a relationship”. Of course it happened AFTER, that’s what happens when there’s a relationship, it ends, and then you want to “take someone back”. If he had cleaned up his act DURING the relationship, they wouldn’t have broken up in the first place. Again, this is like 5th grade English here.
    ———-

    “What kind of character developement is that? This is a movie; she’s supposed to be realistic and/or interesting in some way — other than being really pretty to look at. Unless Alison has some serious intimacy issues or is has some psychological problems we don’t know about, she would have real friends. How is that moot?”

    No this is a movie. Allison’s supposed to be whatever the writers want her to be. And her character is a woman who lives with her sister, gets knocked up by a guy during a one-night stand, decides to keep the baby, and wants to give the relationship with the father a shot. Also, her character development is pretty clearly spelled out in the film, going from arrested development to a more responsible adult. Just as Ben and Pete needed to grow up and stop hanging onto adolescent fantasies (i.e., video games, weed/ ‘shrooms, having a nudie website as a “job”), Allison and Debbie needed to grow up (i.e., stop living with each other, going to nightclubs, and listening to Oprah psychobabble about training men). When a person at the beginning of the film is a complete 180 to her character at the end of the film, that’s character development.

    As for the friend issue, it’s moot because the film says it’s moot. Whether or not Allison has any friends is completely irrelevant to the plot of the movie nor is it needed to effectively tell Allison’s story. All we need to know about Allison is that she is horrified to turn out like her sister – being married to someone that’s not right for her out of obligation to their kids. After finding out she was pregnant, Allison made an attempt to get to know Ben so she could find out if he was right for her. Throughout the film, she finds out he has some good qualities and some bad qualities. And eventually realizes the good outweighs the bad (particularly after Ben overcomes some of the bad by giving up the website, weed, living with his friends). Your comments regarding Allison’s psychological stability have no basis in anything presented to us in the film. You are letting your preconceived notions judge the movie for something its not, rather than for what it actually is.
    ———-

    “For the record, neither I, nor anyone I spoke with about this movie, found the Ben character anything like funny or nice. Alison doesn’t even seem to really like him. She’s kind of a robot, character-development-wise.”

    Again, I sound like a broken record, but either you didn’t pay attention to the movie or are purposely ignoring what was shown on the screen. Throughout their courtship, Allison makes numerous comments about how she never falls for guys like Ben and how she thinks he’s funny (she even says out loud to her sister, “He’s funny, right?!”). We are shown scenes where she actively takes an interest in his hobbies (helping him screen movies for “boobs and bush”) and initiates romantic contact by holding his hand or kissing him. And when her sister tries to disparage Ben’s proposal with an empty ring box, Allsion defends him saying it was really sweet and Debbie just had to be there. There is ample evidence showing Allison falling for Ben. This is not even a matter of opinion. The facts are on the screen.

    ———
    “So please tell me where she finds him either funny or nice. Not that “funny and nice” is any kind of real basis for a long-term, intimate relationship, but still…”

    See above.

    Also, the entire nightclub scene where Allison and Ben meet at the bar, she smiles at him, and she decides to stay and dance with him instead of going home with her sister. All of that happened prior to either Ben or Allison getting wasted proving that there was an initial spark to their attraction that chas nothing to do with the amount of alcohol they drank.

  • MaryAnn

    MaryAnn, are you a feminist? I ask because it seems that you dont think a young pretty successful woman cant have a relationship with an overweight slob.

    I can’t believe I have to repeat myself AGAIN, not just from my review but from many comments here. The problem is NOT Ben’s appearance. It’s that Alison DOES NOT APPEAR TO HAVE ANY INTEREST IN HIM BEYOND THE FACT THAT HE FATHERED HER BABY. How many times to do I have to say this?

    Alison takes Ben’s hand. I can’t believe you did not pick up on any of this MaryAnn

    Of course I saw this. But in my eye, this is her trying to force romance into a situation where it does not exist.

    Either that or you are a very shallow person

    I don’t believe this. I’m arguing that relationships should be far more meaningful that the forced pairing we see in this film, one seeming unwanted by both parties, and I’m accused of being *shallow*?

    Where in the hell do you get the priorities for your relationships? I think most people would agree with me that personality, meaning sense of humor and “niceness,” are the most important things to look for in a person.

    Of course those things are important. I didn’t say they weren’t. But they are the bare minimum you start from. They are not the ONLY basis for a relationship — they’re a given.

    I think, perhaps, some people are so unwilling to see my perspective here — not understand it or agree with it, but see it as another valid perspective — that they have to pretend to misunderstand half of what I’m saying here.

  • MaryAnn

    Where in the hell do you get the priorities for your relationships? I think most people would agree with me that personality, meaning sense of humor and “niceness,” are the most important things to look for in a person.

    You know, it just occured to me that perhaps this is another manifestation of many of the cultural idiocies in America that I railed about in my review. Maybe many people do think all a long-term romantic relationship needs is another person who is “funny” and “nice.”

    All I know is that I’ve met lots of men who are funny and nice. And I’ve never wanted to marry any of them, or have their babies just because they were funny and nice. But maybe I’m weird that way. Maybe most people settle for someone who is “funny” and “nice” but nothing more.

    I guess I’m the “shallow” one for believing that the person you marry, hitch yourself to, theoretically, for the rest of your life, should be something more to you than that.

  • amanohyo

    As a self-reformed slacker, I have to agree with MaryAnn. Irresponsible, poor, lazy, ignorant, unhealthy, emotionally underdeveloped guys are often extremely “nice” and “funny” (it’s kind of easy when you have no real responsibilities or awareness of any life other than your own). That doesn’t change the fact that no successful, intelligent, motivated woman with an ounce of sense would stick it out in a relationship with a guy whose only attractive traits are kindness and a ready sense of humor (masochistic samaritans excepted).

    In the adolescent male fantasy world of movie/tv land, I understand how a charming personality can make up for a myriad of other social deficiences. It’s the old “all I want is a guy who can make me laugh” cliche, and in high school, that’s probably enough to build a relationship on, even one that involves frequent sex and talking on the phone for hours. If you freeze a relationship at that dating/phonecalls/casual sex phase, then sure, it’s really important that the guy is charming and nice.

    But in the adult world you have to pay bills, clean (or not) the house, get to work on time, pay taxes, register the car, fix the toilet, feed the pets, cook food, do the laundry, take out the trash, plan your vacations, have sex, buy clothes, go to the gym, go to the dentist, go to the doctor, keep in touch with friends, keep in touch with family, stay informed about politics, stay informed about the news, stay informed about science, develop your hobbies, and spend some quality time with your significant other while feeding, listening to, disciplining, and educating your children if you choose to have any as the couple does in this movie.

    Let’s forget having a child or even being in a serious relationship for a second, just try living with a guy like Ben for a couple months as a roommate, then get back to me about how his charming personality makes up for the fact that you have to slowly teach him to do everything that any normal adult would have learned how to do long ago, and the fact that you can’t rely on him to do anything important or solve any of the problems (or challenges if you prefer)that life inevitably throws your way, and the fact that he doesn’t contribute in any way to your intellectual or financial well-being.. but hey, he’s nice and funny… and he makes you laugh.

    I guess if you happen to be an extremely wealthy woman looking for a boy-toy to raise like a puppy then personality would count for a lot more. But most of the women I know are looking for something a little more reciprocal. As a man who has worked hard to become mroe mature and productive, I would like to believe that women looking for a serious relationship see personality and physical attraction as important pieces in a larger puzzle.

  • amanohyo

    Wow, that was cathartic. I guess I finally got to the bottom of my hatred for this movie. I’m going to return to my lurking ways before I go even more off topic. Thanks a lot to all the people on this thread, you’re all a lot nicer than the average posters I see. Despite my anti-niceness tirade above, it’s refreshing to read a discussion where most of the name-calling is implicit. cool site

  • sabrica

    Do people honestly believe that Ben is the same person at the end of the movie that he was at the beginning? Because beyond being nice and funny, he was shown to have a stable job, moved into a decent apartment, bought a car, and educated himself on babies so much so he knew MORE than Allison by the time she went into labor.

    From all of your descriptions, you all are looking for supermates and I wish you all the luck in the world of finding that. But the reality is that nobody’s perfect. What most people want in a relationship is someone they can grow old with, someone who is constantly learning and improving him or herself, and someone who they genuinely like a person. I find it hard for anyone to dismiss that Ben is a likable guy. He was childish, for sure, but he was not a mean person, who ill-treated people. And again, it was pretty clear from the movie that the issues Allison had with him were issues of financial and emotional stability (not issues of attraction). I listed numerous scenes in a previous post where Allison said out loud that she was attracted to him as well scenes where she initiated romantic contact. And similar to your positions that the Ben for the majority of the film was not dating material, Allison did wise up and dump him. It wasn’t until the end of the film, when Ben cleaned up his act and showed that he could provide that stability, that she took him back.

    So yeah, Mary Ann, being nice and funny was a start to the relationship. And when Allison realized Ben wasn’t bringing anything beyond that to the relationship she broke up with him. Is the problem that you are having that she didn’t break up with him sooner? Personally, taking a few months to get to know someone is pretty standard. I don’t hope to know everything about the people I date in just a week or two. And yes, she was giving him a little longer time due to the fact that she was carrying his baby.

    Lastly, I don’t know why you are talking about marriage because its not at all clear that Allison even wants to marry him. There’s the whole scene where he proposes and she says “no”, for one, but the ending is pretty ambiguous as well. The only thing we know is that Ben changed his ways and Allison was open to rekindling the relationship. It’s possible they won’t end up together. It’s possible that Pete and Debbie will get a divorce. Who knows? We can only comment on what’s presented on screen, which is simply that Allison and Ben have a new start. The end.

  • Josh

    MaryAnn, see, you finally admit that your dislike for this film was mainly because you see relationships mostly as one dimensional, black or white. They are never black or white. Everyone, at some point in their lives, thinks that way. Most people grow out of it as they get older and have more life experience.

    And I don’t think that most people saw Alison trying to force Ben into a relationship. There was that spark from the very start, but you obviously walked into the movie 30 minutes in, and then continued to walk in and out again throughout the film. My best friend and his girlfriend wanted to see this today so I went with them after treating them to lunch. Theater was packed, probably about 60% females and 40% male. I can probably safely guarantee that none of the women in the audience viewed the film through the same sadistic, shallow, man hating eyes that you did. They laughed throughout. Plus, I started counting how many times Ben makes Alison laugh, which you claimed she only did once and it was forced. I stopped hour in with about 10 times.

    Shame on your for saying that personality does not mean anything when you look for a long lasting relationship. I never said it was the only thing that mattered, but it certainly beats out looks and money for me. From the way you have been carrying on, I bet those are the two most important things to you.

    For the rest of you

    Irresponsible, poor, lazy, ignorant, unhealthy, emotionally underdeveloped

    Well, you just described Alison’s character too, with the exception of unhealthy and poor, although she was not financially stable at the start, when she met Ben. Do you think this means that maybe she found something in common with him? You women probably are only out looking for your sugar daddy, someone that others will approve of instead of that one person that will make you happy.

  • MaryAnn

    MaryAnn, see, you finally admit that your dislike for this film was mainly because you see relationships mostly as one dimensional, black or white. [snip] I can probably safely guarantee that none of the women in the audience viewed the film through the same sadistic, shallow, man hating eyes that you did. [snip] Shame on your for saying that personality does not mean anything when you look for a long lasting relationship.

    Okay, I give up. If expecting more from a romantic partner than “funny” and “nice” — like passion, intelligence, creativity, sensitivity; I’m not talking about wealth or fame here — makes me shallow, sadistic, one-dimensional, and a man hater, then I guess that’s what I am.

    Lastly, I don’t know why you are talking about marriage because its not at all clear that Allison even wants to marry him.

    I was responding to the general comments about relationships above, not to the movie in particular.

  • MaryAnn

    I guess if you happen to be an extremely wealthy woman looking for a boy-toy to raise like a puppy then personality would count for a lot more.

    As I noted in my review, one of the more distasteful aspects of this movie is that it celebrates how women “get” to “train” a man… as if women should *enjoy* having to raise a manchild up to the point at which he might just about make an appropriate spouse/father/both.

    If Ben is a “better” person by the end of the film, it is because Alison “trained” him to be so. How any intelligent, self-respecting woman could have any respect for a man who was so malleable that he would allow himself to be “trained” is a great mystery to me…

    (And just to forestall the inevitable comeback to this, I am not talking about the inevitable compromise that two people must make in any long-term relationship. “Compromise” implies an equal acquiesence to the needs of another person. There is no “compromise” in Ben and Alison’s relationship at all. She acquiesces nothing of herself and alters her life not one whit — the physical demands of pregnancy aside — in this relationship.)

  • Josh

    I think one of the things that draws Alison to Ben, especially in the end, is his sensitivity. Look, I agree the film is slanted here. Women are more likely than men too look for a partner with stability, a good job, morals. Men are much more likely than women to sleep with someone just to sleep with them, no strings attached. That’s going into evolutionary psychology though, a much more complex issue that a sex comedy such as this would not touch.

    Maybe a better way to look at this is, like I have said before, these are not average characters but they have both come from similar places. They both have screwed up childhoods, or so we are told in the film. Both came from divorced families. Both seem to want to correct their past, not make the same mistakes. Even though Ben uses drugs like his father has, he’s apprehensive about bringing another life into the world to screw that up. One of the best scenes in the film is when Alison asks Ben not to break her heart, and Ben says, “I’m the one who usually gets screwed over. Don’t do that to me because I don’t think I can raise this kid alone.”

    You talk about the film showing us that we have to train men, well that was Debbie’s mantra. I can kinda see where Debbie is coming from too. She came from a spoiled background but she is obviously jealous of her sister and is insecure. Her craziness lies behind a history of trying to fight for attention, which is why she picked Pete, a guy who is equally screwed up and submissive. Everyone here is fucked up and everyone is trying to make it work. There are tons of relationships like this. In a relationship, people bring baggage with them and it’s a constant, everyday struggle to get it to work. While the film may be slanted in a male POV, it still makes sense. Many of the people I have talked to, both male and female, see couples they know in these characters. The beauty is that all four characters seem to grow by the end of the film. It’s four jealous, commitment phobic people coming to terms with their own problems.

    It would be nice to see the female version of this. Instead of the chubby, slobbish stoner guy it could be the chubby, underachieving woman getting pregnant by the good looking but flawed male. Instead of Heigl, they would probably cast Grey’s costar Sarah Ramirez. Tons of guys I know find her unattractive even though I think she and Heigl are the only attractive women on the show.

  • Josh

    And I don’t think that Alison trained Ben by the end of the film. I think they both just grew up and took responsibility. I also think, or hope, that Debbie came to the understanding that she could not “train” Pete. But, we know that Debbie and Alison’s mother is a bitch who has probably been through more than 2 marriages and Ben’s dad has been divorced three times. As someone who is studying to be a therapist, I am not of the belief that divorce automatically screws up a child’s life but it’s how the parents handle the situation. If each of these characters comes from backgrounds of dysfunction, you can understand how they would bring that to the table of their adult relationships.

  • Josh

    And I don’t think that Alison trained Ben by the end of the film. I think they both just grew up and took responsibility. I also think, or hope, that Debbie came to the understanding that she could not “train” Pete. But, we know that Debbie and Alison’s mother is a bitch who has probably been through more than 2 marriages and Ben’s dad has been divorced three times. As someone who is studying to be a therapist, I am not of the belief that divorce automatically screws up a child’s life but it’s how the parents handle the situation. If each of these characters comes from backgrounds of dysfunction, you can understand how they would bring that to the table of their adult relationships.

  • Jon

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter.

    MaryAnn, I have often looked to your movie reviews as a sanctuary of sanity on the Internet; while I have not always agreed, it has made me feel all warm and fuzzy when I see you put into words something I could only jumble into spasms of anger or praise.

    This is not a sarcastic setup; I agree with your scathing appraisal of “Knocked Up,” even though my own reasons for loathing the film are somewhat different.

    If it’s okay, I’m just going to vent now.

    Lulled by the near-unanimous praises for “Knocked Up,” I decided to see it; I had really enjoyed “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” and, if the hype was to be believed, this was going to be even more of a riot.

    As the movie started, as it progressed, and as it ended, I kept wondering to myself: Do you have to be married (and miserably so, at that) to find the humor here? Do you have to be a parent to find the humor here?

    I am one to laugh easily at just about anything, some think I laugh too much (I wonder how we would deal with life if we were unable to laugh at it). The ‘ripple effect’ that takes place in theaters during most comedies usually never fails to affect me, even if the gag isn’t that funny.

    With “Knocked Up,” an audience of roughly 40 patrons regularly exploded into shockwaves of absurd laughter…yet the wave apparently crashed on my seat near the far-left wall.

    Your review is a more-than-fair (and quite sensible) critique, and has added even more fuel to my dim appraisal of it. My objection comes more in the veneer with which it trots out its alleged “honesty” and “reality.”

    “Knocked Up” is like a post-post-postmodern comedy, to the point where its alleged humor could be dubbed “non-humor,” it’s just SO on the cutting edge. In its mind, trotting out pop-culture references that nobody will understand in 5 years is the equivalent of “genius” humor:

    “Munich.” “Lost.” “Spiderman 3.” E! MrSkin.com.

    Sure enough, there is a scene where 2 guys looking to escape their significant others drive out to Vegas, seeking release. Eerily enough, I wondered if they would have the gall to reference “Swingers”; when they did, I immediately became depressed that I wasn’t watching that instead.

    Whereas, in my view, “Virgin” took potentially tasteless material to a higher plane, “Knocked Up” is like a dumpster of discarded cliches regurgitated into a trashpile film of astonishing badness.

    Seth Rogen may be appealing as a supporting cipher, but when asked to take an entire movie on his shoulders, makes us realize he is no Steve Carell. Similarly, the blandly beautiful Katherine Heigl is presented more as a delicacy of stereotypical male fantasy rather than a tangible character with authentic motivations (ditto the total contrivance that sets her relationship with Rogen in motion). I found the ensuing ‘relationship’ irritating and unconvincing–it’s as though Apatow is adhering to some Hollywood manual of ‘reality’ rather than Reality itself. Paul Rudd’s character equates marriage to an episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond”; similarly, “Knocked Up” is a sitcom (with ‘charming’ characters who go through a half-hour session of conflict, laughter, and reconciliation, if for no other reason than the network decrees it) that stretches past 2 hours, and manages to be just as glossily off-base and unbelievable in comparison to what people in the same situation would be going through.

    If you’re looking for a kernel of truth in the 2+ hours of “Knocked Up,” you would be better off looking for a kernel of corn in your feces. I don’t claim to know of a greater objective “truth” somewhere out there, but claiming that “Knocked Up” has something resembling it is one of the scariest notions I’ve heard in a long time.

    I can only conclude that the summer comedy offerings are so awful–and Apatow such a ‘hot’ director–that critics are more easily willing to make this their own darling.

  • Have standards

    Andrew: What does being a feminist have to do with whether or not a woman dates a man who’s overweight? The first entry for “feminist” I came across at dictionary.com is: “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.”

    Sabrina: Put down the crack pipe and back away from the keyboard.

    Jon: Nicely written.

    MaryAnn: I wonder if any other of your movie reviews have created such voluminous commentary outpouring, and if that says anything — aside from the weird, apparent popularity of this movie — about our culture. Such polarity.

  • Hasimir Fenring

    I swear some of you people don’t understand how art works – good art is not prescriptive. If the actions of the characters in this movie don’t adhere to your personal ethics and aren’t punished appropriately by your standards, that doesn’t make it “bad”.

    Actually, it does. In fact, that’s one of the primary indicators that makes a bad film. If a film’s ethics are rotten to the core, that’s bad art. I can only judge how a film matches up to my ethics (as I am not qualified to judge according to anyone else’s personal ethics), and if it completely fails that test, if it is utterly depraved and horrible (like, say, the execrable The Constant Gardener), it’s bad art. It may be enjoyable. It may be entertaining. But it’s bad art. Certainly any artistic work that is so morally bankrupt and devoid of any shred of human decency that it brings about feelings of disgust and loathing for the people who made it (The Constant Gardener again) doesn’t rate ‘good’ on any artistic scale of which I can conceive.

    I think most people would agree with me that personality, meaning sense of humor and “niceness,” are the most important things to look for in a person.

    I, Hasimir Fenring, would like to go on record as someone who thinks ‘nice’ and especially ‘funny’ are utterly worthless characteristics on which to base a relationship. I like wymyn who are assertive and assured and are therefore rarely described as ‘nice’. When I want to laugh, I watch another episode of MST3K; I don’t hit up my grrlfriend for a stand-up routine. I can think of a dozen traits that rate higher. Now ‘smart’ (or, more properly, ‘not willfully ignorant and shallow’) is a different story.

    My grrlfriend is utterly serious, her attempts at humour fall flat, and she never gets my jokes. We’re quite happy.

    MaryAnn…viewed the film through…sadistic, shallow, man hating eyes….

    MaryAnn?! Man-hating?! Does the name ‘Bruce Campbell’ mean anything to you?

  • MBI

    Have fun with your humorless and cruel significant others, everyone!

  • dave

    I don’t know whether to take Hasimir Fenring’s criticism of my post seriously or not, because his response about desired personality traits in a significant other has GOT to be satire, right?

    Actually, I don’t take his response to my post seriously, anyway, because it’s kind of stupid. Often – not always, but often – art is meant to challenge, not reaffirm. I don’t think that’s the goal of Knocked Up, necessarily, but I don’t think it’s the job of any art to pat you on the head and tell you, “Yes, little Hasimir, you are a good person.”

    Just out of curiosity: on what moral grounds does the Constant Gardener fail?

  • Hasimir Fenring

    I don’t know whether to take Hasimir Fenring’s criticism of my post seriously or not, because his response about desired personality traits in a significant other has GOT to be satire, right?

    It was meant in all seriousness. The only personality traits I mentioned were assertion and assurance, which don’t sound satirical to me, but…

    Actually, I don’t take his response to my post seriously, anyway, because it’s kind of stupid

    …that doesn’t matter because my response has been declared ‘stupid’ and so doesn’t need to be taken seriously. If I had called your response ‘stupid’, as you do here, and treated it with the contempt that you have treated mine, we wouldn’t even be having this lovely exchange. We’d just be slinging mud (assuming you’d even have responded to my initial post if it had treated you as disrespectfully as you treat me here). I disagreed with one of your artistic standards, and you respond by calling my post ‘stupid’ and dismissing any points in it.

    Often – not always, but often – art is meant to challenge, not reaffirm….I don’t think it’s the job of any art to pat you on the head and tell you, “Yes, little Hasimir, you are a good person.”

    Nor do I. Art may certainly challenge, and it need not agree perfectly with my standards (if it did, I’d barely like anything I see, since everyone’s standards are rather different). It will, however, be judged by my standards because they’re all I have with which to judge. A film may present a different, unknown, or disagreeable worldview. But when it presents a world lacking any redeeming features at all, so powerfully immoral (or amoral) that it makes you want to build a time-machine and travel back in time to show its creators’ parents what they will wreak upon the world if they don’t change their ways, it’s bad art.

    Art that challenges you makes you carefully consider the issues it raises. Some artists confuse ‘shock’ with ‘challenge’, and they’re bad artists. (Anybody remember the Virgin-Mary-stained-with-elephant-dung ‘art’. Of course it shouldn’t be banned, but it was certainly a case of confusing ‘wow, this will shock people!’ with ‘wow, this will challenge people!’) Art that challenges at least would have to have some common ground. If the morality is so off that while you’re watching it unspool, you are convinced it must have been made by aliens with an incomprehensible moral code, it’s bad art.

    Or perhaps it’s my moral code that’s off. But all I can tell you is what I see, which is why art is completely subjective. (I’m sure some people thought the Virgin dung thing was brilliant.) My disagreement here is that you said in an earlier post that moral judgements don’t enter into it (‘that doesn’t make it “bad”‘), and I’m trying to explain why I think they are a primary criterion by which art often is (and I think should be) judged. I never asked for art to pat me on the head and tell me I’m a good person (which no film I’ve seen has done), but I think a reasonable standard is for it not to make you think its creators are utterly without recognisable human morality. If you could respond to that without belittling me or the points I try to make, I’d appreciate it.

    Just out of curiosity: on what moral grounds does the Constant Gardener fail?

    Answering this would bring danger of highjacking the thread. =( I should pick less controversial examples, like Empty House (inexplicably titled 3-Iron in English).

  • MaryAnn

    Women are more likely than men too look for a partner with stability, a good job, morals.

    You know what? I’m not even talking about these kinds of things when I say that “nice” and “funny” are not enough to form the basis for a relationship (though of course those things are important). I’m talking about romantic passion: is it too much to expect partner who makes your toes curl just thinking about him/her? I know I’m weird in this respect, but I’d rather be alone than be with someone who is “funny” and “nice” but doesn’t make my heart leap. I don’t see the appeal in “settling.” And this movie is all about condoning “settling.” It’s quite possibly the least romantic movie about a supposedly romantic relationship that I’ve ever seen.

    Even though Ben uses drugs like his father has,

    Oh, please. He smokes pot. This is another childish aspect of American culture: we condone smoking tobacco but not the far less dangerous and far less addictive pot. That’s ridiculous.

    And now I’m gonna sit back and watch Hasimir and Dave go at it… :->

  • Have standards

    “It’s quite possibly the least romantic movie about a supposedly romantic relationship that I’ve ever seen.”

    That kind of sums up both one of the main things I found so distasteful about this movie, and also part of why I suspected some kind of quasi-evangelical religious nonsense was behind it.

  • Jade

    Hey, Maryann, have you ever seen this: http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight

    Infuriating…and I’m a Christian

  • MBI

    I would like to affirm that the only conservative dogma this film adheres to is romcom formula. Nothing in Pete and Debbie’s marriage could possibly be meant as an endorsement (and that goes double for anything Debbie advocates).

  • MaryAnn

    Hey, Maryann, have you ever seen this: http://www.christiananswers.net/spotlight

    Yes, I have. At least it’s honest (in the same way that Westboro Baptist Church is honest about saying that the Bible insists gays should be stoned to death). It serves a particular segment of the public with a particular narrow point of view, and lets them know whether movies adhere to that perspective.

    Nothing in Pete and Debbie’s marriage could possibly be meant as an endorsement

    Perhaps not an endorsement as in “Yes! This is what we should all aspire to! Hoorah for marriage!” but an endorsement in the sense that it says, “This is what marriage is, and this is what you’d better accept, if you want to be married and not be a sex-starved loser your whole life.” How depressing is that?

  • Have standards

    “I would like to affirm that the only conservative dogma this film adheres to is romcom formula.”

    And I would like to deny that this film adheres to much of anything either romantic or comedic. I would go further than MaryAnn and say I was uncomfortably aware of an underlying sense of the opposite of the life-affirming tone you would find in a good romantic comedy. It had that soul-deadening message of an up-and-coming heroine aborting her life trajectory to assume the role of wife and mother, above all else.

    I’m not saying a conservative religious plot to brainwash us was behind this; I guess the filmmaker’s unconscious belief system painted the film’s tone. Lots of people think it’s great because they have the same unconscious belief system, I guess.

  • Have standards

    Thanks to Jade for sending that link to the Christian movie review site. I was, surprisingly, in agreement with much of it, ’till I came to this “Aha!” part, which backs up my previous gripes about KU:

    “So now comes the time to discuss the film from a Christian viewpoint, which is very confusing for this movie. While the film contains much vulgar and crass content, there are numerous excellent morals. The most admirable, in this reviewer’s opinion, was the discussion of abortion, in which the suggestion was immediately shot-down. Another very positive aspect of this film dealt with the lead characters truly attempting to make a relationship work…”

    It goes on to say: “Themes of true love, parental responsibility, and healthy married relationships are also present.” (!??!)

    And this is telling: “The scriptwriters probably made a mistake in including such vulgar content, as they have isolated a large portion of what would be their target audience.”

    Note the term “target audience”… Interesting.

    Thanks, Jade.

  • Jade

    Your welcome. It just kind of gets upsetting when people assume that we’re all judgemental like that.Some of the stuff written on there is just completley frustrating. It makes me question faith sometimes.

  • Have standards

    Some may find this paradoxal or blasphemous, but I think it’s healthy to question faith. Ultimately, it will only make your faith stronger. So, question away, says I. And congrats for being spiritual AND open-minded.

  • MBI

    –Perhaps not an endorsement as in “Yes! This is what we should all aspire to! Hoorah for marriage!” but an endorsement in the sense that it says, “This is what marriage is, and this is what you’d better accept, if you want to be married and not be a sex-starved loser your whole life.” How depressing is that?–

    Incredibly depressing. Matter of fact, I think it’s much more devastating than something like *Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?* Personally, I don’t mind that all that much, since I long ago accepted that love was only for the sick and maladjusted (and I count myself firmly among them). I commend this film’s honesty. If there’s an upside to marriage that this movie is trying to present, I don’t see it. I don’t even see it as trying to say it’s preferable to the alternative, like you think. Quite honestly, I love this part of the movie. Pete and Debbie don’t even seem to belong to the same universe as Ben and Allison. There’s a brilliant movie in here which Ben and Alison are bringing down. As it is, it’s contradictory and frustrating.

    If I could rewrite this movie, I would have Ben and Alison not getting back together until after the baby is born. They could hang out and take the baby to a playground, and Alison could realize more and more that she really likes her child’s father, and that he is genuinely changed and genuinely committed, and they could try again. This would show that Alison likes Ben as a person, instead of just being with him to be with him. (I don’t think that the movie as is shows Alison just being with him to be with him, but like I said, contradictory contradictory contradictory.)

  • Have standards

    “If I could rewrite this movie, I would have Ben and Alison not getting back together until after the baby is born. They could hang out and take the baby to a playground, and Alison could realize more and more that she really likes her child’s father, and that he is genuinely changed and genuinely committed, and they could try again. This would show that Alison likes Ben as a person, instead of just being with him to be with him.”

    That would be more true-to-life (and therefore interesting), but probably still pretty low on true-to-life and interesting scale. It would offer more fleshed-out characters, be a lot less weird and creepy, and it would give the movie a more happy, fluffy ending. That would give it a chance to be a typical Hollywood romantic comedy, but then the Christian movie review website would scowl.

  • http://toniokruger.blogspot.com Tonio Kruger

    I thought that love was only true in fairy tales;
    then for someone else, but not for me…

    ;-)

    Sorry, Maryann, I guess I must be among the sick and maladjusted that MBI mentions. Good thing I have health insurance.

  • MaryAnn

    It’s not that love is only true in fairy tales, it’s just that you can’t hurry love, you’ll just have to wait. Love don’t come easy, and it’s a game of give and take.

  • http://www.clayj.com Clayj

    Channeling Phil Collins, are we?

  • AC

    Just saw “Knocked Up” yesterday after hearing how funny it was. Hmmm… although I laughed at a few moments I left feeling that something was deeply wrong about the whole premise. After reading your review tonight I can now put my finger on exactly what was bothering me. Thank you!
    Reminds me of seeing “Devil Wears Prada”. Went with a girl pal – we both were furious after seeing the film. I simply coudn’t believe the reviewers were seeing the same movie we did. Successful female = bitch that no man will love. Not just Meryl’s character – the young female lead faced the same situation. Unlike Meryl, she “wisely” chose to give up her big time carreer. WTF!? And that scene with the passive agressive whiney ass boyfriend SITTING IN THE DARK waiting for her to return from her work event… stop it. Just stop it. I still can’t express everything I found offensive about that movie without typing volumes. But more than anything I was appalled that no reviewers seemed to even notice it was filled with anti-feminist messages while masquerading as a chick flick. I was nearly incoherant with anger when I first saw the movie… I still seeth when I think of it.
    Whew… your review sure got me going LOL.

  • Have standards

    AC: I haven’t gotten around to seeing Devil Wears Prada, but interestingly enough you voice a concern I had about seeing it: Successful female = bitch.

    Otherwise, thank you for expressing your offense regarding KU. I can relate!

  • Andrew

    What anti-feminist messages?

  • Do they actually pay you for this crap?

    You guys know its a movie right. Its a comedy. Its fiction. Get off your Feminist high horse and do your job… review movies. I don’t want your societal commentary. I want a review of a movie.

    Most of us can actually watch a movie and enjoy it for what it is… a stand alone piece of fiction. We’re not so insecure about our own lives that we need to take it as a personal attack against us or what we believe in.

    Holy heck… if you can’t even do this simple thing, I believe you are in the wrong line of work. You’re simply not objective enough to do your job… you are not skilled enough to be a reviewer if you need to tint your reviews with your own opinion. We all can do that. We look to reviewers and critics to try and get 3rd party OBJECTIVE reviews.

    If you have problems because you’re a woman, or have had some guy issues in your past… don’t take it out on a defenseless, perfectly watchable movie.

    The sooner you realize that Hollywood isn’t where you should be learning your life lessons, the sooner you may be able to find that skill to be able to enjoy all movies… not just the ones that morally agree with you.

    Wow… I sure hope you don’t get paid

  • Try a hug

    Hmm, I really have to ask:

    Is MarryAnn one of those 30 something chics who knows she’s drying up, made all the wrong decisions, and is now alone and has only her blog to vent her fem rage at the world.

    I mean I seriously thought this blog was a joke at first. I thought it was a satirical poke at the movie… and when I realized this MarryAnn was taking herself seriously, my jaw truely dropped.

    Its still hanging there.

    You’re a very sad, cold, angry woman, aren’t you?

  • Isabella

    Check her Bio (top right).

    She couldn’t be more of an honorary sex in the citian if she tried (and it looks like she’s trying pretty hard).

  • MaryAnn

    An “honorary sex in the citian”? That’s hilarious. And couldn’t be further from an accurate description of me.

    The fact that so many people still equate “feminist” with “sexless old harridan” just proves we’ve still got a long way to go.

  • Try a hug

    Its not that we equate them oh angry one. Its that one turns you into the other.

    Geeks hate jocks. Have nots hate haves. Sexless old harridan’s end up hating men ;)

    Enjoy!

    lol @ honorary sex in the citian btw. That is funny at many, many levels given the convo here.

  • Mimigee

    Maybe Alison is in the grips of an extreme case of hormonally (and culturally) mediated baby frenzy and he just happened to be there. So she anesthetizes herself first :D (Actually I think this kind of situation is far more common than we think.

  • Have standards

    (1) A 30-year-old woman is at the age where she’s “drying up”. Yep, I bet she has to take lots of Viagra. Oh, wait…

    (2) Feminism turns a you into a sexless harridan? Even men who are feminist? Do any of you goofballs have access to a dictionary?

    (3) I agree with this newish take by Mimigee. Sad but true: Lots of women numb out so that they can go with any guy in the vicinity, to have that baby. Kind of a depressing plot for a “romantic comedy” (isn’t that what this movie supposed to be?).

  • MaryAnn

    30-year-old woman is at the age where she’s “drying up”

    Ah, now, be fair: I’m 37. Almost 38. I’m done for.

    Seriously, though:

    Its that one turns you into the other.

    I’m simply astonished that people really believe this.

  • Have standards

    “Its that one turns you into the other.”
    – I’m simply astonished that people really believe this.

    Honestly, I’m not sure I buy that anyone — consciously — believes this. It sounds like one of those things someone says because they feel oh-so-threatened — by what?

    Isn’t it kind of like saying that if you’re all for human rights and racial equality, that makes you a cretin who hates anyone who’s white? That’s using the same logic. (They used to have a really foul term for white folks who supported equal rights for non-white folks.)

    So why do people use that kind of flawed logic? I think men who express such dopey anti-feminist trashtalk are under the influence of the same kind of insecurity and fear as those racists who express dopey white supremecy rhetoric.

  • Have standards

    I could hypothesize away, but please tell us, O anti-feminist trashtalkers: What is it about women that frightens you so?

    (Enjoy!)

  • MaryAnn

    Isn’t it kind of like saying that if you’re all for human rights and racial equality, that makes you a cretin who hates anyone who’s white?

    But Have Standards, some people DO think this.

    And the more I think about these recent comments, the angrier they make me. How on Earth could *anyone* read this review of mine and come to the conclusion that I hate men?! I come to the defense of men here! I decry the bullying and manipulation they are subjected to *by women.* And this translates exactly HOW in “manhater”?

    Oh, but there I go, being angry again. Not very ladylike of me, is it?

  • Have standards

    “MaryAnn the Man-Hater”:

    Not to get all “filosophical” on yourselves here, but I’m really not convinced that people consciously believe that sexist or racist claptrap. I think it’s brainstem activity, coming from a place of fear and insecurity. Something about the world being a place of limited resources and a need to keep the “other” down. As if persecution of the different folks made Germany stronger, the Taliban-esque repression of women makes men stronger and safer, the persecution of nonwhites in this country ever made it a better country, calling a someone like MaryAnn an angry, man-hating harridan cushions some guys from some terrible insecurity about their manhood.

    By the way, it’s the same nuttiness that says that if you care about animals, you must hate human beings. It’s all either/or. Limited resources. Repress the “others”. Bang the other tribemembers over the head with your club.

  • Signal 30

    I recently saw a deleted clip from the flick and thought it was actually funny, so I gave the movie a try.

    Didn’t laugh once. And I can usually find at least one or two laughs in anything.

    The recurring beard gag was annoying, and worse yet never reached a real punchline/payoff.

    Well, I chuckled when an E! wardrober asked if Alison was pregnant, ending with Alison looking perplexed and asking, “Do you think they’ll notice?”

    Because she looked like she had absolutely no clue what pregnancy was all about.

    Which in a way was pretty creepy… for the first half of the film the character came across as actually being developmentally disabled. Or maybe it’s because essentially, all Katherine Heigl was in this film is a talking prop.

    She works as on-air talent at an entertainment outlet, and has never heard of the BACK TO THE FUTURE series? Actually, there’s never even the slightest indication that the woman doesn’t exist solely in the womb of her sister’s house, and apparently doesn’t even watch television.

    It just comes across that Heigl just wandered around the set blinking as everyone else improved, she’d react to the input, and then the narrative was edited together around that.

    And just out of curiosity, when did an initial pregnancy test involve shoving a camera up into the uterus? Or was that supposed to be a joke in itself?

    As the copycats roll out and this is what we’ll be getting as comedy for the next couple of years, I’m gonna have to resubscribe to Netflix.

  • Brian Singer

    Mary Ann,

    I find it quite odd that you think you have to defend yourself so often. Give it up. You wrote an obnoxious review full of swear words that wasn’t even about the film, it was about your position on how marriage, one night stands, and how pregnant woman from one night stands should conduct there lives. And of course, this should be the basis of a movie, let alone a comedy. You did not review a movie Mary Ann, you made a social commentary.

    Now, my wife and I have been happily married for 11 1/2 years and have a 6 1/2 year old boy who is entering 1st grade, and is extremely well adjusted and smart. We do not get to see movies alone often, and thank you very much we did not read your review of Knocked Up when we had a chance to go out and see a movie. We saw from every other reviewer out there that it was the best reviewed movie of the year (a combined 88 by the major reviewers) and gave it a shot. We loved it. We did not judge it, and we laughed. We knew the the one night stand with Seth Rogen and Katheryn Hiegl in real life had little chance to work, and they didn’t give it a lot of chance to work in the movie. That’s what made it funny. But, in the end it did work. Gee, that is what we go to the movies for isn’t it, to get away from reality, Mary Ann. Or aren’t you forgetting about Hollywood, and why people go to the Movies/Romantic Comedeys in the first place? To forget about the Rat Race for a while and laugh. Not always to here about political correctness and that crap that you are preaching about. Mary Ann, I am not going to get mean and call you names, but I know that you are not Married. I know that you have no children. So you are no authority to even be moralizing about this topic.

    I know people/friends that got involved in shotgun weddings and bad marriages and unfortunately they hang on sometimes too long. Some have gotten divorced, some are trying to work things out, and some are miserable. But, this is reality, and we are talking about an entertaining comedy that is getting us away from reality, so we don’t have to talk about this crap. My wife and I know about this. Mary Ann, you don’t. So if you don’t like the movie, if you don’t think it is funny, or whatever, that is fine! Write about that. Don’t give us your social commentary, that you no nothing about. Also, don’t try and tell us what is politically correct to think about. It is a Movie, time to get away from all the crap the World has to offer. And for the 15th millionth time, the Director/Screenwriter (and Seth Rogen) are Pro Choice (not that it should matter).

    In addition, after we saw this movie in early June, we went to the same site that combined a bunch of mainstream reviews to see if there was another romantic comedy we could see. They gave Waitress an 80. I went to take my wife because, Ropert gave it a great review and I respect him a lot (also he is a guy). The other reason was I saw a comment on Waitress in the Internet that read “I was looking for a romantic comedy to take my wife to. We really like Knocked up a lot, but I thought that Waitress might be too much of a chick flick. I was very wrong. It was very warm and funny, and we both enjoyed it very much.” My wife and I agreed. Two very different movies, from two very different talented Male and Female Directors/Screenwritters, yet the same results from critics and audiences(Knocked Up and Waitress).

    Here is the moral of the story. Unless you are here to review movies, and not what suites your extremely New York polarized lifestyle, please give it up. There are many other talented Journalists chomping at the bit to have the job you have. I said Journalist. By the review I and thousands of other people have read by now about Knocked Up, it has nothing to do with Journalism. Please don’t write me back and defend it. You know it to be true. I only hope by know, you have changed, and will never write a review based on your own bitter personal lifestyle. Instead, I hope it will be because you had a good time at the movie and had some laughs or not. You didn’t mention any parts of the movie as funny or not. It is a comedy and you owed your audience that. Not that the premise sickened you, and that because of that no one should see it. That is not a review. That is not Journalism. I do not now why you still have a job. I should have your job, as could many of the people who have eloquently made their points better than you ever could have in a million years. As long as you have a job, I would never read one of your reviews, and will make sure that this posting gets to the main website as well.

    Good day Mary Ann

  • amanohyo

    Mr. Singer, I think that some of the swear words in the obnoxious review are quotes from the film. Anyway, It’s kind of odd that you would object to the use of swear words in a review of a movie in which they are sprinkled so gratuitously.

    And skimming over the review again, which I feel is a both funny and full of usful information about the movie (I’ve been married for several years too, if that lends me any credibility), it seems as though Maryann’s biggest disappointment is at the lack of romance and passion in this supposed romantic comedy.

    While she doesn’t address the comedic value of the movie explicitly, I kind of get the impression that she didn’t find it very funny. I honestly can’t imagine many people reading the review and thinking to themselves, “Yes, it’s offensive and lacks romance… but are the jokes funny?”

    But, assuming that the review does contain its fair share of social commentary, you seem to be making use of the “it’s just a movie,” defence that is so popular when speaking about offensive “comedies.” If you look over the review again, she makes it very clear that she was disappointed by the movie because most of its positive reviews herald it as the birth of some new type of honest, real, from-the-heart, romantic comedy. She is using the social commentary to counter these statements.

    We have outgrown the fantasy world in which one omnipotent critic judges the objective worth of a film, and the bland masses will shuffle off to any movie that receives his white, male Christian status quo stamp of approval. There are many different tastes and many different critics. I suppose there are still people who base their movie watching solely on the Rotten Tomatoes percentage, but even most of them know of critics that have tastes similar to theirs, and weigh the opinions accordingly.

    I can understand that you and many respected critics enjoyed the movie found it funny, but you must also understand that others found it depressingly unromantic. Maryann did, and the honesty of her review may not make her a good impartial journalist, but it makes her an excellent movie critic.

    P.S. When did we travel back to the time when you had to be married with children to be an authority on romance anyway?

  • http://screampunch.typepad.com/ gadgetgirl

    “We loved it. We did not judge it”

    In a post full of unintentional hilarity, those eight words really stand out. Well, that and the weird capitalization.

  • Joe

    I would also like to point out to Brian that this isn’t MAJ’s job……it’s her hobby, her website, her place to say what she wants. Would that some newspaper could see the talent and pick her up (or better yet, a movie studion to snatch up her screenplay), we should all be so lucky as to have that sort of voice in the public sphere. For now I am just thankful to have found the site a few years back, and have donated, AND have been a micropatron, and I sincerely hope she never stops writing reviews.

  • Laura

    Hear, hear, Joe! I second everything you said.

  • Have standards

    Me too! Joe’s post rocks, and amanohyo’s too.

  • Have standards

    I agree with gadgetgirl’s post also: I laughed my ass off at the weird capitalization and other hilarity of Mr Singer’s post.

  • Paperbag

    Mr. Singer, you are a tool.

    “I only hope by know (spel chek: now), you have changed, and will never write a review based on your own bitter personal lifestyle.”

    Talk about a God-complex over here.

  • MaryAnn

    I would also like to point out to Brian that this isn’t MAJ’s job……it’s her hobby, her website, her place to say what she wants.

    Actually, no, I do now make a significant portion of my income from film reviewing, from ad revenue here and the handful of alt-weekly newspapers that run some of my reviews. I can’t make my full living at it, yet, but I do consider it a “job,” even if I did create it for myself.

  • http://toniokruger.blogspot.com Tonio Kruger

    I wasn’t aware that Mary Ann was working for this Brian Singer person anyway.

    And btw, I just love the continual use of the “lighten up, it’s only a movie” defense. If it is only a movie as far as you are concerned, then why care so much whether anyone else–including MaryAnn–likes it?

    Does the fate of the free world depend on MaryAnn liking this movie? Because if it does, one would think that MaryAnn would have heard of it by now.

  • http://toniokruger.blogspot.com Tonio Kroger

    Btw, like Joe, I’m a micropatron. I have donated money to support MaryAnn in her work and while I don’t agree with every review she posts on this site, I’d rather see her speak her own mind than kowtow to someone else’s opinion.

  • Jonnie

    I don’t agree with this review. I don’t think I can agree with this critic. The theater including myself was cut open by the surgical comic timing of this film, it was a one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.

    If you read her review before seeing the film and you agreed, don’t bother going… I don’t want to hear your bitching during, or afterwards you sat through something that pissed you off.

  • Jame

    I think many commenters have missed what MaryAnn is trying to say:
    1.) Our culture is increasingly confusing profanity, vulgarity and explicit sexuality for liberalism. Thank Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, liberals and conservatives for this blurring of distinctions.
    2.) It is thus very very possible for any expressive work of art/entertainment to be extremely funny and extremely misogynistic at the same time. Just because something is sexually explicit, it does not make it liberal.
    3.) Our culture is confusing misogyny, profanity and crudity for political incorrectness.
    4.) We are constantly fed the message that being politically incorrect is somehow a very courageous and laudable thing.
    5.) Men get to be as misogynistic as they want. In fact they are rewarded for it by other men AND women who find their expressions of misogyny to be courageous and ballsy.
    6.) Women don’t get to be as misandrist as they want to be, and neither do they get to call men out on their misogyny. They are in fact criticized for it and they are criticized as being humorless bitches. Re:Mary Ann.
    7.)Liberals have lost the war on public opinion due to their own neglect, obfuscation of issues and letting conservatives set the terms of and frame the debate.
    8.) Hollywood will never again feature an abortion in the plot of a film which it did do often in the sixties. This is due to the immense power of the Christian right in this country. After the ‘Passion of the Christ’, Hollywood woke up to the spending power of right-wing people.
    9.)Thus, any movie that even remotely could be seen to condone issues that conservatives especially despise, abortion being the biggest one, will NOT receive financial backing.
    10.)The vast majority of the Christian right is Anti-Semitic while also heavily backing Israel. A distinction hard to grasp for most black-and-white thinking Americans, I know. Judd Apataw is a Jewish film-maker and the Christian Right has accused Jews repeatedly of being liberal communists intent on destroying this country. There is no way a well-known Jewish film-maker would be able to dodge anti-Semitic slurs had he made it look that he was condoning the use of abortion, in the slightest.
    11.) It is no coincidence that the most virulently anti-abortion groups are also the most virulently anti-Semitic groups. Most white supremacists, Neo-Nazis, members of the Aryan brotherhood etc. are all intensely Christian and pro-life. They believe it is wrong to abort any white babies.
    12.) Any work of entertainment that cost millions of dollars to make, market and distribute is not JUST a movie. Americans are absolutely naive in their understanding of how propaganda works.

  • Matt

    I wouldn’t know if it’s realistic or not. I am in a relationship where my girlfriend degrades me for playing videogames and I rebuttal that at least they are more engaging the People Magazine. She pouts I roll my eyes and then we go get something to eat. I certainly don’t look to Hollywood to tell me what is “realistic.” I thought the movie was okay for what it is, which is a tired, raunchier remake of every other romantic comedy. Really, what is the last original movie you have seen in the last 10 years not directed by Clint Eastwood?

    And though I did pickup (it was hard not to seeing the ever present shadow of the cold-cocked bludgeon) about conservative peachiness, I certainly don’t take my life ques from cinema.

  • MaryAnn

    Really, what is the last original movie you have seen in the last 10 years not directed by Clint Eastwood?

    You need to see more movies before you say something like that.

  • Li

    I’m very late to this party but I wanted to say *thank you* for this review. I am a new mother–my son is 11 weeks old–and my husband and I were really looking forward to seeing this film after reading all of the positive reviews. In addition, we both loved The 40 Year Old Virgin and I’m a big fan of Freaks and Geeks.

    We were shocked to find that we HATED this film. It was one of those films that left me ranting about it for days afterward: “I can’t *believe* I paid to see that piece of shit!” My husband and I walked out about halfway through the film–one of maybe three times in my life that I’ve done this.

    I agree with every point expressed in this review. Rogen’s character was repulsive (no, not because of his looks–it was his laziness and vulgarity, as well as his asshole friends). Heigl’s character was a Stepford Mother, someone whose motivations made absolutely no sense at all. And the married couple in the film was positively bone-chilling. If you relate to that couple in any way, find yourself a therapist or a divorce lawyer ASAP. Watching this film made me think that Judd Apatow must fear women and hate himself.

    It depresses the hell out of me that several people I like and respect told me they loved it. Are their expectations of relationships so low that they can be entertained by the stunted people portrayed in this film? Or maybe there are so many crap movies out there that KU looks good in comparision?

    Anyway, thanks again for your review. I was very happy to see that at least one other person hadn’t drunk the Knocked Up Kool-Aid

  • Have standards

    Li, be grateful you & your husband had the sense to walk out of this dog.

    As for your distress about why people you like enjoyed the film — well, welcome to the club. Is there a sociologist in the house?

  • MBI

    He stopped being lazy by the end of the film. That’s mostly the (entirely predictable) point of the story. You leave halfway through, you miss it. Thusly, you don’t have the right to judge the film entire.

  • Li

    i He stopped being lazy by the end of the film. That’s mostly the (entirely predictable) point of the story. You leave halfway through, you miss it. Thusly, you don’t have the right to judge the film entire.

    Wrong. Regardless of what happened in the second half of the film, the first half was senseless, cliched and, at points, downright offensive. Nothing could possibly redeem it. And the part about him not being lazy at the end of the movie supports Mary Ann’s point about women having to “train” men.

  • MBI

    How would you know if it supports MaryAnn’s point, you didn’t watch it. Although apparently, it’s bad that Seth Rogen’s character was who he was, and it’s bad that he changes, I see. I guess the idea of personal growth through relationships is personally offensive to you. After all, Rogen’s character was irredeemable, what with his “vulgarity.” (Oh golly gee willickers, say it ain’t fucking so!)

  • John

    I dunno, this seems less like an actual film review and more like a refutation of an ideology that the film doesn’t even really espouse in the first place.

    Does ‘Jake is really mean to his wife and I hate it when people are like that’ constitute a review of Raging Bull?

  • MaryAnn

    Holy crap, are you comparing *Knocked Up* to *Raging Bull*?

    Man o man.

    Okay. *deep breath* The difference between a movie like *Raging Bull* and *Knocked Up* is that RB does not condone what it depicts. It shows it as, perhaps, realistic and hence worthy of exploring, but it does not offer it a stamp of approval. But KU does, to my eye, not only say, “This is real and hence worth exploring,” it also says, “This is inevitable.” THAT’S what I’m raging against: the idea that what KU depicts is inevitable. If RB had had the same attitude, I’d have raged against it.

    Also, RB is not a freakin’ comedy.

    Of course, a really quick look at my “all reviews” listing would have shown that I have, in fact, written a brief review of RB, which is available for compare-and-contrast. Granted, it’s not as sophisticated a review as I think my later work has been — it dates from only my third year as a film critic, seven years ago — but still…

  • Li

    I just thought of another, better movie that dealt with a similar theme: Love With the Proper Stranger. Lead actors Natalie Wood and Steve McQueen not only gave better performances than Heigl and Rogen, they were on an equal level of attractiveness, making the pairing a lot more believable. Also, Wood’s reactions were very realistic. She comes very close to having an illegal abortion and she initially rejects McQueen’s proposal because she doesn’t want to be trapped in an unhappy marriage simply out of obligation. Regardless of whether you loved or hated KU, Love With the Proper Stranger is definitely worth a Netflix rental.

  • John

    Whoa, calm down. I don’t mean to suggest in any way that KU is comparable to RB in terms of quality or content. I enjoyed Knocked Up but it’s not fucking Tarkovsky or anything.

    I guess the point I was clumsily trying to make is that I don’t really think the film condones the behaviours that you think it does – fr’instance, the idea that men should be ‘trained’ into becoming clockwork husbands. Audience response at my theatre was pretty divided over that scene; some people were like ‘Yeah! Tell him girl!’ and others were like ‘God, what a bitch’. Actually, audience response was pretty varied across the board at almost every point in the film. Some people were laughing hysterically at parts I personally thought were sad, and vice versa. I don’t know how a film with such an ostensibly rigid, prescriptive agenda would be able to prompt such different reactions.

    I thought it was a surprisingly honest film for a mainstream comedy, and hear me out: this isn’t at all how relationships ought to be, but for better or worse, the two couples in this film seemed pretty dead-on in depicting how the average relationship is. I don’t think Apatow is merely shrugging his shoulders and saying ‘I guess Ben is the best she can do’ – maybe I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt based on residual goodwill from Freaks & Geeks et al, but I think he is smarter than his characters, and I really don’t think anyone in this film is held up as someone to emulate.

    I have to get back to work, so I don’t have time to say everything I’d like to, but I really do believe this film is more of a mirror than a hammer, to paraphase Brecht (hey, if I’m gonna mention Raging Bull, I might as well go big or go home and get really pretentious on your ass).

    I think you’ve made a lot of substantive points in this comment thread, and I think the fanboys and 15-year-old troglodytes calling you an angry lesbian nazi should be forced to repeat elementary school again – I’m just not convinced we saw the same film.

  • MaryAnn

    I guess the point I was clumsily trying to make is that I don’t really think the film condones the behaviours that you think it does – fr’instance, the idea that men should be ‘trained’ into becoming clockwork husbands.

    Except that “training” Ben is precisely what Alison does — he appears incapable of growing himself up. And Pete is shown to be “appropriately” trained by the end of the film, too, and now he’s “happy.” If that’s not condoning these attitudes, I’m not sure what it’s all supposed to be doing.

    I thought it was a surprisingly honest film for a mainstream comedy, and hear me out: this isn’t at all how relationships ought to be, but for better or worse, the two couples in this film seemed pretty dead-on in depicting how the average relationship is.

    And I said as much in my review, too. It’s the stamp of approval on this reality that so bothers me. I understand if you don’t see that… but I do.

  • John

    Except that “training” Ben is precisely what Alison does — he appears incapable of growing himself up. And Pete is shown to be “appropriately” trained by the end of the film, too, and now he’s “happy.” If that’s not condoning these attitudes, I’m not sure what it’s all supposed to be doing.

    But Alison doesn’t “train” Ben – she just tells him to fuck off. He decides of his own volition to get a new job, new place, start reading baby manuals, etc. And it looked to me like Pete and Debbie were still sniping at one another even by the end of the film; I don’t buy the idea that the lack of parity in their relationship suddenly and neatly vanishes.

    And I said as much in my review, too. It’s the stamp of approval on this reality that so bothers me. I understand if you don’t see that… but I do.

    Yeah, I guess I don’t see it. I thought the dysfunction in both “happy” relationships, even at the end, was pretty apparent. Guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. I appreciate your responses to my comments.

  • Have standards

    “Actually, audience response was pretty varied across the board at almost every point in the film. Some people were laughing hysterically at parts I personally thought were sad, and vice versa.”

    This, to me, is another indication that the film doesn’t work. It just misses. It’s a mess, a distasteful one at that.

  • Have standards

    “But Alison doesn’t “train” Ben – she just tells him to fuck off. He decides of his own volition to get a new job, new place, start reading baby manuals, etc. ”

    Well, wasn’t that “training”?? Would he have grown up if she hadn’t told him to fuck off? Why did she have to reach that point with him before he went “Oh, duh, I guess I’d better, uh, GROW UP.”

    Or does she have to stand over him in high-heel, thigh-length boots and a whip, yelling “Sit! Stay! Think!” and reward him with little snacks each time he reads a page out of a baby book for it to count as “training”.

  • MBI

    Well, Jesus Christ, love is a compromise, isn’t it? Would it have been right for him to not get a job? That hardly seems fair to Alison! So why is it wrong for Alison to convince Ben that he needs a job?? He did need a job!

    You know what, whatever. This movie is so all over the place that I’m going to declare right now, it is exactly what you want it to be. Say anything about it and you’ll be right.

  • Have standards

    “So why is it wrong for Alison to convince Ben that he needs a job?? He did need a job! ”

    Why should it be Alison’s place to convince him that he needed to grow up (get a job, etc)? Is he an amoeba? A larvae?

  • MaryAnn

    Well, Jesus Christ, love is a compromise, isn’t it?

    True. But there is no love with these two. They fucked and got pregnant. That’s not love, and it doesn’t become love, at least as far as we see.

  • Li

    John, I don’t agree with your POV but you argued it very thoughtfully. I enjoyed reading your comments.

    Why should it be Alison’s place to convince him that he needed to grow up (get a job, etc)? Is he an amoeba? A larvae?

    Wordy word.

  • MBI

    ***True. But there is no love with these two. They fucked and got pregnant. That’s not love, and it doesn’t become love, at least as far as we see.***

    Agreed, but we’re going over old news now; I think Apatow was trying to say they were in love but he botched the follow-through. But that’s a separate conversation. I’m just sick of the people who have decided that Alison shouldn’t have tried to change Ben, ’cause how dare she tell him what to do!! (Despite the fact that she flat out says that it’s wrong for her to get him to change, which I’m calling bullshit on — as a girlfriend or a baby-mama, she has every right to suggest that he change his shiftless life now that he has responsibilities.) I mean, this comment here: “Why should it be Alison’s place to convince him that he needed to grow up (get a job, etc)? Is he an amoeba? A larvae?”

    I have no fucking idea where that comment comes from? Why should it be her place?? ‘Cause she’s the fucking mother of his child, that’s why! Because she has a vested interest in whether he grows up or not! No, he’s not an amoeba or a larva, he’s a human being, and unless you came out of the womb a fully formed and mature human being, I don’t see why you think no one should try to influence another person’s life? Have you never advised someone to get a job, or not date that guy, or stop drinking so much, or exercise more, or whatever? If you did, why should it have been your place to convince them of anything? I’m not saying that Alison should have controlled every aspect of Ben’s life (and she did no such thing, let’s note), but where does this delusion that we should never try to influence other people’s lives come from?

  • MaryAnn

    Nice way to put words in someone’s mouth, MBI. No one is saying that we should never try to influence other people’s lives. But there’s a HUGE difference between offering friends advice and “training” a man. The problem here is not that the film is advocating that we all look out for one another — because that is NOT what it is doing. The problem is that it is giving a hearty stamp of approval to bizarre notions that many people, men and women alike, share: that men don’t AND SHOULDN’T HAVE TO grown up until they find a woman who will fix them, and that women should not only NOT be pissed off if they’re not able to find a man mature enough to become an adult in the normal course of, say, passing college age, but should be delighted to be “allowed” to “train” a man because she’s married to him or carrying his baby.

    The great mystery I will never understand is why women accept men who are immature idiots. But a greater mystery is this: Why aren’t more men totally pissed off at this movie? Do you all WANT to be “trained”? Doesn’t it offend you to be deemed a child?

  • Have standards

    “Doesn’t it offend you to be deemed a child?”

    That is the question of our times.

    This seems to be largely an American thing, the childification of men. It’s evident in the way a lot of men dress: the baggy shorts, oversized t-shirts that make them look like little boys. It’s so not-sexy. Women generally are not turned on by boys. Just for the record.

  • MBI

    I don’t think it argues for any of those things you think it does, MaryAnn, and at this point we’ve all spent too much time thinking about this movie. I don’t believe the main two characters represent anything but themselves. I don’t feel like I’ve been deemed a child. I have more in common with Paul Rudd than Seth Rogen, and no one seems to think he needs training. Debbie proposed the whole “training” thing, and I think it’s safe to say that audience’s sympathies lie more with Pete than with her (“Pete’s awesome and Debbie kind of sucks,” remember). The whole anti-training argument still sounds to me like an argument against personal growth a relationship.

    And foithamore, Alison DUMPS Ben and turns down his attempts at reconciliation because 1) she can’t deal with his immaturity, and 2) she doesn’t think it right to make him change, so maybe you and Apatow agree on all those points after all!

    Then again, you can also make the case that it actively disagrees with those notions because of the ending. I can imagine a very good case, in fact. And we’re just going to have to agree to disagree, I think. I believe it’s frustrating and potentially hypocritical, and you believe it’s actively wrongheaded from the get-go. And someone somewhere thinks it’s a simple, happy rom-com, and we’ll both agree that that person is completely wrong. That’s common ground, right? Let’s talk about something else now.

  • MaryAnn

    The whole anti-training argument still sounds to me like an argument against personal growth a relationship.

    If you can’t see the difference, then clearly, we have no common ground on this issue.

  • MaryAnn

    I’ve deleted two looooong comments reposted from Salon.com.

    Not cool, guys. Please do not repost material from other sites here, unless it’s something you’ve written yourself. Quote and link, if you like. But don’t cut-and-paste wholesale.

  • Li

    Sorry about that–it didn’t occur to me that there could be a problem. Won’t happen again.

  • macbrooks

    At last, a realistic, non-PC review of this movie. Amen, sister!

    mac :]

  • Chewie

    hahaha you guys are such idiots. Lighten up and live a little!

    Jesus, some people just want to moan in life…

  • amanohyo

    Why is it that the people who care enough about the well-being of others to gracefully bestow commandments like “lighten up” and “get that stick out of your ass” always feel the need to throw in an insult? It seems kinda counterproductive to send such mixed messages.

    Also, I don’t know a single person that watches movies solely to “moan” about them afterwards. Believe it or not, most of the people here actively seek out movies that they believe won’t make them moan (unless it’s a porn movie… or a zombie movie… or a movie with a zombie porn star that repeatedly gets hit in the crotch and speaks only in awful puns).

  • Chewie

    The insult was needed to release pent up aggression on my behalf towards people that nit-pick their way through life instead or appreciating things for the merits they hold.

  • amanohyo

    But when you insult a stranger, they usually don’t lighten up, and they’re certainly less likely to follow any advice you give them. Thank you for being honest about the reason though.

    Back on topic, what merits do you think that this movie holds? Why do you think you and so many others enjoyed it a lot more than other comedies with a similar premise?

  • Chewie

    Yes, a fair point and I shouldn’t have lost control like that. *berates self*

    I’m not sure why I enjoyed the film so much – I can’t put my finger on a singular reason as such. I just enjoyed the quality of the acting and the general humour of the film. I was also in need of a good belly laugh.

    However I do know that when I went into the cinema to watch a film titled ‘Knocked Up’ I wasn’t expecting to emerge an expert on Safe Sex, in a similar fashion as to when I went to watch Terminator 2 I didn’t expect to be able to combat futuristic cyborgs!

  • MaryAnn

    The insult was needed to release pent up aggression on my behalf towards people that nit-pick their way through life instead or appreciating things for the merits they hold.

    Nitpicking? I don’t pick at nits here. I pick at boulders.

    However I do know that when I went into the cinema to watch a film titled ‘Knocked Up’ I wasn’t expecting to emerge an expert on Safe Sex

    Is there something in my review or comments that leads to you suspect that I was looking for a documentary on safe sex?

    *I* know that when I went into a movie called *Knocked Up,* I got what I expected from a movie with such a crude title: a juvenile outlook on sex, relationships, and procreation. And I got that. I didn’t like it, though. Hence the review.

  • Chewie

    Well I must profess my ignorance here as I still haven’t read your original review. I stumbled across contributions from people after Googling ‘Knocked Up’.

    My initial post was merely exasperation at the seeming majority of negative comments on here!

  • MaryAnn

    I still haven’t read your original review

    But… but… it’s Right. Freakin’. Here.

    *bangs head on desk*

  • Chewie

    Sorry, my ‘up arrow’ on keyboard is broken.

  • CLC

    I think the bottom line is that any thinking woman who has had the misfortune to get pregnant by an unsuitable partner through no fault of her own except perhaps bad judgement knows the ONLY option is abortion. Period!!!! And if this is you then NO, the film isn’t funny at all….

  • amanohyo

    Wow, this thread is immortal. If you skim the purple comments above, you’ll see that MA and many of the other detractors don’t share your extreme viewpoint. It’s an easy out to assume that anyone who doesn’t share your value system must not be thinking; However, even people you personally disagree with usually rationalize their decisions in an internally consistent way if you take the time to get to know them.

    Unfortunately, this movie doesn’t give us a chance to get to know Alison very well, and her brief characterization is completely at odds with her decision. The magnitude of the decision is also such that it deserves more screentime, even (or especially) in a romantic comedy with a male target audience.

  • Russ

    There’s an extremely interesting article on Salon (on the link below) worth reading, as is the letters section for the article (of letters readers wrote in). The article is about the current state of women in the US film business and their current status in it, in a roundtable type discussion of some influential women screenwriters, producers and one US woman director (Kim Peirce).

    While the article isn’t about the Knocked Up film,
    (which I dislike as much as Mary Ann does) the KU film’s success is discussed by the women (mostly semi-negatively ; they were probably being diplomatic, since Universal’s president of production Donna Langley – the exec who probably greenlighted KU, was present at the discussion). Universal would’ve loved KU, as it only cost them about $US 30 mill to make and will make a killing for them on DVD.

    The recent news about the head or Warner Bros apparently saying they’re done with doing films with female protags, omitted the rather obvious fact that the reason some recent films they made and released (with women protags in the lead roles), did so poorly, is because they were terrible movies to begin with, with extremely terrible, mediocre scripts. After that comment made by Jeff Rubinov (that he claims he never even made), the whole subject of why certain films made by the major US studios, that are aimed at the women’s market (having one or more female protag in it) do quite well commercially in both North America and overseas and why others unfortunately don’t (even though many deserve to), is a really interesting one. I hope Mary Ann can offer analysis on the subject, but probably not here (under a review for a film now going to DVD in most parts of the world) as no one would read it.

    http://www.salon.com/ent/feature/2007/10/11/hollywood_women/

    http://letters.salon.com/ent/feature/2007/10/11/hollywood_women/view/?show=all

  • MaryAnn

    I’ve seen that Salon article and will probably have something to say about it shortly.

  • margaret

    Very fascinating thread, and the reasons I read Mary Ann’s reviews are:
    I usually agree with her assessments of the films I have seen and I like her stance … the personal IS political.
    My daughter disliked Knocked-Up and was shocked at how many went crazy for it.
    Hollywood is now the powerful perpetuator (and perpetrator) of society’s myths and stereotypes and this prevents us from moving forward as individuals and as societies.
    Where is wisdom? Everybody(if they are lucky),gets old you know … not many become wise. Sex may be the driving force but it is not the holy grail. People should think a bit more about that when they are in their twenties.
    I am wondering now about the film Punch Drunk Love and will see what Mary Ann thought of that.

  • margaret

    Oh, I see someone didn’t even read the review … just want to include that I did. It was great. Knocked Up is not my kind of movie so won’t be seeing it. I appreciate cultural comment in film reviews so have no qualms in commenting nevertheless. I can handle explicitness for the portrayal of truth but I dislike gratuitous coarseness. Yet I found Happy Gilmore funny. I liked Elf. I thought Punch Drunk Love was emotionally powerful. Three disparate movies that I pulled out of the air because the thread discussed “romantic comedy”.

  • Have standards

    “Hollywood is now the powerful perpetuator (and perpetrator) of society’s myths and stereotypes …”

    Great comment above from Margaret about Hollywood.

    How our storytellers may help us to, or prevent us from “moving forward as individuals and as societies” is your intellectual exercise for today. Pass it on.

  • MaryAnn

    We can’t blame Hollywood exclusively. Culture is all of us. Hollywood wouldn’t be able to sell a stereotype if the audience wasn’t buying it.

  • Have standards

    Not that anyone was 100 percent blaming the “storytellers” (Hollywood), but point taken: What’s up with the audience?

    Last night I came upon a fascinating article that addresses this trend — yes, apparently it’s a trend. Ugh! “Slacker Guys and Striver Girls”.
    http://sfweekly.com/2007-11-14/news/slacker-guys-and-striver-girls/
    (Hope it’s okay I’m posting the URL here.)

    I think the writer nailed it; the article really hit home for so many of my friends (and for me). I hope a helpful dialogue ensues, nationwide — now that I realize we need it.

  • MaryAnn

    URLs are fine, but if you put more than two in a comment, it’ll get held as potential spam until I approve it.

    That article is horrifying. What the hell is wrong with women that they’d want a guy who’s a fixer-upper?

  • Have standards

    “What the hell is wrong with women that they’d want a guy who’s a fixer-upper?”

    Well, uh… He could be very attractive & fit (once you’re in the demographic of dating men 45+ that’s a huge thing because a lot of men let themselves go), he could be really fun & charming… And you could be telling yourself, “This is just a temporary fun thing ’till I’m ready for a serious relationship…”.

    And, as mentioned in the SFWeekly article, you could be one of those people who “take home strays” — injured puppies, cats, cute boys — for a variety of reasons.

    This whole thing might be about more than women lowering expectations and settling for less. I wonder: Is it more appealing to men these days to be a man-child? What’s the big benefit to raising your son to be a man-child? Is it just easier? Can some sociology student please write your dissertation about this?

    I keep thinking of the movies of the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s — in which the men were so grown-up and manly compared to today. It’s weird, and I wonder if men today ever find it challenging to measure up to that.

  • MaryAnn

    He could be very attractive & fit (once you’re in the demographic of dating men 45+ that’s a huge thing because a lot of men let themselves go),

    So, you’re suggesting that there’s a concept of “attractive” that includes men over 45 years of age who seem to believe they are still 17?

    Weird…

  • Have standards

    “So, you’re suggesting that there’s a concept of “attractive” that includes men over 45 years of age who seem to believe they are still 17?”

    There certainly are men like that. To be clear: I’m not suggesting that immaturity makes a man attractive.

    A man may live as a slacker, and yet have many hard-to-find qualities which make him attractive. (And for the record, the dreadful lead slacker guy in KU would not be one of these.) And so even smart women sometimes get swept up in the charms of non-keeper, slacker guys.

    As previously noted, a woman also may fall into a relationship with a slacker by telling herself she’s just killing time & keeping company for a little while, but then one day realizes she’s become emotionally involved — and then she’s not just slumming anymore. Oops.

    Where I live (there’s a lot of wealth around here), lots of guys — slacker and otherwise — are looking for various shades of the Sugar Mama. It’s almost comical sometimes, the extent to which guys’ expectations have morphed, expecting to score someone younger, more fit, better-looking, and wealthier than themselves (lots of eternally single people around here too). I realize the gold-digging thing has been long-practiced by women, but now it seems to be men’s time. I — and my female friends — am finding this developement horrific. Male gold-digger/gigolo = Not Attractive.

    Anyway, the SFWeekly article lays this all out more eloquently than I.

  • MaryAnn

    a woman also may fall into a relationship with a slacker by telling herself she’s just killing time & keeping company for a little while, but then one day realizes she’s become emotionally involved

    Wait! Now you’re saying that you can have something that could be called a “relationship” with another person WITHOUT being “emotionally involved”?

  • Have standards

    “Now you’re saying that you can have something that could be called a “relationship” with another person WITHOUT being “emotionally involved”?”

    I think someone can “fall” (without planning to) into a relationship, with a man she thought she was just having a fling with. Don’t women do this all the time? Become emotionally involved more than they thought they would?

    There are different degrees of “emotionally involved”. There’s “I am very fond of this person, there’s chemistry, who knows what will happen,” for example. And, to be honest, it’s often the case that a woman tend to make all kinds of excuses for a guy if she happens to have good sexual chemistry with him. We are the best at deluding ourselves in this way. All men have to do half the time is stand back and let the woman’s imagination paint him as a prince. Our brains get hijacked by the attraction chemistry.

    To tie this in with KU: This was one of the big failures of the movie. That brain-hijacking chemistry was ABSENT. It was a romance of duty! What a missed oppportunity to make an interesting movie that rings true. Oh Well!

  • MaryAnn

    There are different degrees of “emotionally involved”.

    Of course there are. But when the degree is “none,” then there’s no “relationship.”

    Or am I being too impossibly unrealistic and romantic here?

  • Have standards

    I guess lots of folks have relations without being emotionally involved, like say swingers, one-night-standers — though no doubt these are not necessarily immune from some degree of emotional involvement too. But they weren’t part of the discussion.

    This is more about those shades-of-grey emotional involvement relationships, in which a woman can get swept up into a romantic entanglement with the wrong guy.

    Perhaps what’s needed here is a surgeon of some sort who could carefully parse for us exactly where chemical attraction leaves off and emotional involvement kicks in. Women, I’ve come to believe, experience much more overlap of these two things than men do. This is where we can get into trouble. This is where you see otherwise intelligent women doing creative backflips making up stories to themselves about what an incredible guy the slacker must be.

    (Note to fans of KU: Not counting the alcoholic beverages before the one-night-stand, where was the chemical attraction?)

  • MaryAnn

    I guess lots of folks have relations without being emotionally involved, like say swingers, one-night-standers — though no doubt these are not necessarily immune from some degree of emotional involvement too. But they weren’t part of the discussion

    Well, but I wouldn’t call “relations without being emotionally involved” “relationships,” and that was, I thought, what we were talking about.

    (Note to fans of KU: Not counting the alcoholic beverages before the one-night-stand, where was the chemical attraction?)

    I’m a BIG believer in chemistry — to the point where I don’t understand “relations” or “relationships” without it — and this was one of my big beefs with the movie, too.

  • Have standards

    Yes, I think we Were talking about relationships that include emotional involvement.

    As I mentioned in passing, the idea of having relations without emotions is not part of the discussion. I guess I was acknowledging part of the wide spectrum there.

    The attraction to the Slacker Guy would have to include emotional invovlement to last more than a few hours (of mindless, lizard-brain lust). And, as women, we are so good at convincing ourselves that if we feel such **Attraction** there must be a good, solid reason, therefore he is (underneath it all) a fine, rare, wonderful, spectacular person. Because he’s hot and kisses well. Shallow as it may look to the outsider, a truer explanation would be that she’s drugged (by those pesky romantical hormone chemicals that make us do stupid things). Try asking a good girlfriend why she’s so bonkers over Bozo Boy. She’s not lying when she passionately (and a little defensively) goes on and on about his obscure (to you) qualities. Usually, you bite your tongue and waits until she wakes up from the spell of denial on her own. Is this not what women go through on a somewhat regular basis with her single friends?

  • Have standards

    All of these things were lacking from the female lead in KU, by the way. She was the Stepford Girlfriend, empty, devoid of desire or conflict or anything to make her human, romantic relationship-wise.

  • MaryAnn

    as women, we are so good at convincing ourselves that if we feel such **Attraction** there must be a good, solid reason, therefore he is (underneath it all) a fine, rare, wonderful, spectacular person.

    Not all of us…

  • Have standards

    “Not all of us…”

    Lucky you! Because that little romantically induced self-delusion is a culprit that has turned up in many a failed relationship’s post-mortem. Time & again I’ve witnessed otherwise smart & wise women make that misstep. Probably lots of women do it without being conscious of it. This is a reason so many shifty guys do so well.

    After all, chemistry, that kind of attraction, is such a strong, strong intoxicant. It makes us crazy. It’s often not closely related to character, morals, all those things that make a person good relationship material.

    All of this would have made great fodder for that KU movie, if the people behind it had had the balls to address the female lead’s motivations. KU is a dopey movie.

  • MaryAnn

    Lucky you! This is a reason so many shifty guys do so well.

    Well, those women have only themselves to blame. I mean, come on: Are we merely the hormonal driven nitwits some men would have us believe we are, or not?

    chemistry, that kind of attraction, is such a strong, strong intoxicant.

    Yes, it is. Perhaps I’ve merely been unlucky enough not to experience it very often, but I have had the experience of feeling that chemistry with someone I knew was not a very nice person. You don’t have to be nuclear genius to know that’s a bad combination, no matter how intoxicating it is.

  • Have standards

    “Well, those women have only themselves to blame. I mean, come on: Are we merely the hormonal driven nitwits some men would have us believe we are, or not?”

    When it comes to strong romantic attraction, women can sure act like nitwits. I don’t think men “would have us believe” this; I don’t think men are, generally, very aware of or understanding of this.

    Men under the influence of strong romantic attraction often also act like nitwits. It’s part of the human condition.

    And yes, I agree, we have only ourselves to blame when we let ourselves get carried away by this.

    What makes it such wonderful, fertile ground for stories is this push/pull between rationality and love/lust “nitwit” behaviour. People who are unaware of this stuff make boring romantic comedies.

  • Jonny Hotpants

    Here we are months later and I still have the hatred for this movie deep in my heart. I talk now with people who say they loved it and ask why I hated it it. I respond by asking what they liked and the usualy answer is “Because it’s funny”. I respond by saying I didn’t. I refuse to trade words about a movie such as this if they cant give me any more of a reason to like it than that. If they call it anything else Id be glad to discuss the movie with them. Its not fair thats it’s so easy to like a movie and so hard to dislike it. My biggest problem is that it is hailed as so funny actually. I just dont find humor in such a subject. People talk about what about abortion or single parenthood. Regardless what of a child who will be brought into this world with parents who not only dont really care for each other but never really cared for it. Myabe Im too much of a dreamer to believe in romance and love and actually caring about another human more than you can care about yourself. And for that Im sorry that I havnt had my spirit completly crushed yet by one thing or another. Thats just how I think, And thats just how I feel. You can say Im reading too much into just a comedy. Well to that I say then don’t ask why I didn’t like it. I can get into acting, on screen chemistry, basic story but fukk it. Its just a comedy. Its not designed to be an award winning masterpiece. But when the movie portrays actions that shake my very moralities to the core I should not be expected to defend my dislike.

  • Li

    No comments on Katherine Heigl’s interview with Vanity Fair?

    http://defamer.com/hollywood/girl-power/katherine-heigl-admits-that-if-it-were-up-to-her-she-would-probably-have-aborted-seth-rogens-love-child-329473.php

    “It was hard for me to love [Apatow's] movie” because it’s “a little sexist…”

    “[I]t paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as goofy, fun-loving guys.”

  • MaryAnn

    Maybe she read my review…

  • li
  • amanohyo

    The only part of that cutesy yuppie “conversation” that I find extremely annoying is the sentence “This conflict will never be resolved.” (probably an attempt at resonance with the Iraq “joke” lower down)

    Let’s see: Wife makes an easily understood point about husband’s oblivious selfishness then backs it up with examples. Husband ignores her point, then realizes he’s wrong without admitting it, then tries to weasel out of the discussion. What a baffling dilemma. I can’t even begin to think of a solution that would resolve this eternal conflict about how to spend excess disposable income…

    Oh cruel, pitiless universe! Why were we poor men made so selfish and so completely incapable of basic communication and self improvement? Our only recourse is to make awful movies documenting the funny ways in which teh mens and womens is so different and how tough it is to be a guy in this crazy world where women can refuse to have to sex with you at any moment. Our prayers are with you during this difficult time Mr. Apatow.

  • MBI

    Are you actually taking Leslie’s side in that conversation? What?? Jesus Fucking Christ. Oblivious selfishness?

  • Have standards

    Ha ha ha. Thank you amanohyo for the reminder that life’s stupid aggravations go down easier with humor.

  • MaryAnn

    Leslie Mann sounds like a nighmare.

    Why do so many women think that people can read their minds?

  • misterb

    MaryAnn said,

    “Leslie Mann sounds like a nighmare.

    Why do so many women think that people can read their minds?”

    This is an interesting question> Certainly I’ve had similar conversations with my wife. In fact, she’s been quite explicit that the only “good” gift would be if I got her exactly what she wanted without her telling me what that would be. And when I comment on the impossibility, she will say, ” We’ve been married over 20 years, you ought to know me by now”
    Discussions with other married men seems to confirm that she’s firmly with the majority in this attitude.
    The only strategy that seems to work is the “I’m a hopeless incompetent” defense – it seems that’s the one Judd Apatow tried with the ugly dresses. But most newlyweds will see through that, let alone long-marrieds.
    Ultimately, if you live with someone for 20+ years, I guess it’s not unreasonable to expect a certain amount of mind-reading. After all, if you’re not crazy, you are at least somewhat predictable. Doesn’t make it any easier, at least for me.

  • Have standards

    “Why do so many women think that people can read their minds?”

    Maybe because so many women can “read minds” themselves — that is, are empathic and pay attention, are socially intelligent enough to understand what would make someone happy. And, therefore, are disappointed that the husband/boyfriend has no clue what would make her happy — it says that he hasn’t been paying attention to who she is. I can understand it.

    On another note, this conversation between Apatow and Mann: If I was in a relationship like that I’d fake my death and flee the country. Example:

    “LESLIE

    I told you, I would be happy to tell you exactly what I want.

    JUDD

    But that is not a present because then you might as well just buy it for yourself.

    JUDD

    Well, what exactly do you want?

    LESLIE

    After 10 years you don’t know me well enough to know what I would like?”

  • MaryAnn

    Maybe because so many women can “read minds” themselves — that is, are empathic and pay attention, are socially intelligent enough to understand what would make someone happy. And, therefore, are disappointed that the husband/boyfriend has no clue what would make her happy — it says that he hasn’t been paying attention to who she is.

    Or it says other things: Maybe that men aren’t as empathic as women. (I’m not saying this is absolutely true, but perhaps it is in general.) Maybe men and women demonstrate their love and attention in different ways. Maybe women are expecting men to be something they’re not. Or maybe, in this individual case, he doesn’t know her all that well and doesn’t care to, and she needs to reevaluate whether she wants to be married to him in the first place. If he’s really all that inconsiderate, why has she been with him for 10 years? Or maybe he’s really not all that inconsiderate (a trip to Paris? wow!) and she’s just taking the opportunity to make some cheap jokes at the expense of her supposed beloved… which doesn’t say much about *her* level of consideration.

  • Have standards

    “Or it says other things: Maybe that men aren’t as empathic as women. (I’m not saying this is absolutely true, but perhaps it is in general.) Maybe men and women demonstrate their love and attention in different ways. Maybe women are expecting men to be something they’re not.”

    Some truth there, I’m sure, though it’s a slippery slope (especially in the US) when we start making blanket excuses for some group, especially men. Too many men use some variation of the excuse, “What can I say — I’m a guy!” as if men were all brain-dead schmucks. It’s a demeaning, disrespectful-to-men copout. (When I become a manipulative, bitchy gold-digger, I’ll be sure to use the same logic. “Can’t help it — I’m female!”)

    Anyway, it’s true that men and women have some fundamental behavioural differences, and there are cases of each expecting the other to be more like their own kind. Women do, for sure. (Do men do this as much as women?)

    I find it understandable that women get disappointed in their male partners’ lack of empathy. Empathy’s kind of a crucial thing in a mate. Misunderstanding your mate’s capacity for it is a sure path to the relationship minefield. Resentment! Retaliation! What fun.

    And I do find his gift to her selfish: The trip is for both of them. It’s not like she can’t afford a trip to Paris herself; these people probably toss around $1,000 bills like I do pennies. Where was his gracious acknowledgement that it wasn’t a very personal gift? For that matter, why are they bickering in public? Maybe this says something about our society.

    Somebody should email them and get them in on this discussion. Judd, Leslie: Why are you this snarky to each other? why ARE you still together?

  • amanohyo

    Remember that this conversation was manufactured for us, the viewing public (we’re so lucky to get this glimpse). It’s another piece of marketing just like any celebrity interview. I’m not saying they aren’t actually like this, but be wary of drawing conclusions from a sculpted product.

    I’m gonna be completely honest, and I realize this is sexist and shallow: There’s something to be said for having a successful, wealthy, popular husband, espescially if you’re an actress and he’s a producer. His TV stuff shows that he has talent, and Talladega Nights (written by someone else) and Dewey Cox (cowritten) were pretty good… so I guess I’m saying I get a little jealous sometimes and I lash out.

    I still think 40 Year Old Virgin and Knocked Up are crap, and cutesy “We never agree about presents” yuppie angst is still sickening even as marketed tripe, but even if Apatow really is as poor at communicating as this conversation makes him out to be, I don’t see any reason for Leslie to run off to her divorce lawyers just yet.

    Okay, that does it. No more thinking about the personal lives of people who make mediocre movies for me this year. Time to think about more worthwhile things like varying my sentence structure. Let’s never fight again.

  • MBI

    “And I do find his gift to her selfish: The trip is for both of them.”

    Man, Judd and Leslie must have hit on some universal gulf between the genders because I don’t get that at all. I mean, my dad bought a cruise for my mom on their 25th anniversary and that went over really well, even though my dad went on it too. The Tom Petty box set I understand, but the trip? If she’s going to enjoy it, she needs to get over the fact that her husband is going to enjoy it too. Like seriously.

    Anyway, I think the correct conclusion to draw about Judd and Leslie’s relationship is that they’re a couple who likes bickering and giving each other abuse over trivial shit. We’ve all known that couple.

  • MaryAnn

    I find it understandable that women get disappointed in their male partners’ lack of empathy. Empathy’s kind of a crucial thing in a mate.

    Absolutely. No argument from me there.

    *So who marries someone who has no empathy for you?*

  • Pedro

    hey MaryAnn, have you seen the trailers for that new movie that go “from the writers who brought you KNOCKED UP!” “…and SUPERBAD!” in really bold letters like this was a good thing?

    all i can say is…mega-LOL.

  • MaryAnn

    Well, those movies made a LOT of money. So from a marketing perspective, I understand that.

    I know that I’m in a tiny minority in hating these films.

  • Beans

    I just watched this on DvD and I have to say this reviewer hit the nail on the head. This is one of the worst films I’ve seen in months (next to the VERY creepy/disturbing “40 Year Old Virgin”). Simply not funny and not worth the popcorn that I wasted popping for this piece of trash. I don’t think I will take a chance on renting another film by this director. Thank you for your review :)

  • steb

    Amen. This film is an atrocity. I hope to god it’s just an Apatow masturbation/fantasy and not, as those mouth-breathing, Juno-loving critics claim, an accurate representation of the American relationship.

  • amanohyo

    Psst, steb. You might want to take a look around the site. Not everyone who disagrees with you is a mouth breather, and this is coming from someone who actually didn’t like Knocked up or Juno either (although Juno was much more tolerable).

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  • AribaKhag

    Agreed with everything you said except Paul Rudd. He is generally an irritating douche and was doubly so here. Neither he nor his “wife” were remotely appealing in any way. This was a disaster of a movie.