Back in March, Blue Gal was decidedly unhappy with the entire concept of the movie Knocked Up, and swore just on the trailer that she wouldn’t even rent it. But, citing Judd Apatow’s history as a brilliant writer of real people and real people’s lives (Freaks & Geeks, The 40-Year-Old Virgin), I exhorted her to withhold judgment and see the film. She told me if I saw the movie and liked it, she’d rent it.
BG, put it on your Netflix queue.
I would write a review of the film, except Amanda’s already written an excellent one to which I have but two things to add. [Warning: Her review contains spoilers, as does my little bit below.]
First thing is that Apatow deftly handles an issue I’ve rarely (if ever; none that I can recall) seen addressed so pointedly in his genre—the idea that a guy who makes himself emotionally unavailable to a woman he’s married is (Apatow’s term) a shitty husband, that withdrawing from the relationship whenever one feels like it because one “needs a break” is (Apatow’s term again) mean. It’s the categorical opposite to the ubiquitous sitcom built around the inattentive, immature husband and nagging, substitute-mom wife, in which being precisely that kind of mean—hiding out in the basement, lying and scheming to avoid family obligations, making your wife look stupid for depending on you—is routinely exploited for laughs. As Amanda says, “The ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ relationship between Alison’s sister and brother-in-law is exposed as the miserable hell those relationships really are, and there’s no tidy resolution for their problems.” Indeed. And one of Apatow’s most skillful touches here is to distinguish between a guy who’s just immature and a guy who’s emotionally unavailable and undependable, rather than letting the former act as shorthand for the latter.
In other words, Apatow retains his well-deserved reputation for writing complex characters. Frankly, if I had any complaint about the film it’s that some of the sillier comedic gags were actually unnecessary distractions from what was a pretty amazing character piece. And I know that his wife, Leslie Mann (who plays Alison’s sister here), contributes, particularly in helping flesh out female characters, so kudos to her, too.
Second thing is that this film contains one of the most brilliantly subversive commentaries on misogynistic language I’ve ever seen. During the movie, the word “vagina” is (notably) used by guys as an insult. And then during the delivery—KAPOW! You get not one but three (IIRC) shots of the baby crowning. And all I could think was: “Awesome! Could there be a better commentary on how fucking stupid it is to use ‘vagina’ as an insult to convey weakness?!” Superb.
Anyone else seen it? What’d you think?