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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

more about ‘Knocked Up,’ because apparently I am a masoschist today

For those of you who don’t understand my complaint that Knocked Up is a retrograde nightmare, here’s Richard Corliss in Time magazine on the strained conservatism of the film:

Knocked Up is, essentially, a rich-girl-poor-boy romantic comedy, of the kind Hollywood manufactured by the hundreds in its glamorous, sexually restrictive prime [of the 1930s]….

The difference back then, kids, was the iron-clad code of behavior imposed on movie characters. No sexual union without marriage was condoned; no woman blithely chose to have a child out of wedlock; abortion (or, as it’s delicately alluded to in Knocked Up, “shmuh-shmortion”) was not considered, not even discussed. Considering all the strictures on what was allowed in movies, we marvel at the ingenuity of writers to confect situations that satisfied audiences then, and still delight us today, if only in their gleaming artificiality.

Apatow labors under none of those caveats. Marriage is an option, not a command, for couples living together; nearly 40% of all babies born in 2005 had unmarried mothers; more than a million legal abortions are performed each year in the U.S. So Apatow, like all modern comedy writers, has another challenge: how to create social and ethical barriers — the ones the old screenwriters relied on for their characters to hurdle — when few exist. His tactic: rebuild the old barriers. If those hobbling conventions worked for the old masters, they might be worth resuscitating.

Bingo! There’s a lot more, and it’s all worth reading.

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