Social justice has been served up. Yes, just as the Supreme Court has begun to curtail the rights of American women to control their bodies, Knocked Up, the first great anti-abortion comedy, impregnated both our theaters and our minds June 1, and it still refuses to miscarry. This past weekend (July 29), it still raked in over a $1 million for a U.S. total so far of over $145 million. Yes, Jude Apatow's latest cash cow refuses to be knocked down. If that wasn't enough, it's received a 91% approval rating from the nation's critics according to Rotten Tomatoes.
And what's wrong with that? Knocked Up does fill a dreadful vacuum in cinematic offerings. Responding to the public's deepest urges, Hollywood has unspooled a film which argues that Allison (Katherine Heigl), a beautiful, intelligent damsel who accidentally gets pregnant after a drunken night out, should go full term with the fetus plus marry Ben (Seth Rogen), the guy who didn't utilize a condom.
Alison: I'm pregnant.
Ben: Pregnant... with emotion?
Alison: Pregnant with a baby.
It doesn't even matter that this gent is an unemployed pothead and super-schlub with doofus friends who are all trying to make their fortune with a no-nonsense porn-oriented website. Or as Michelle Alexandria noted in Eclipse: "This film is every man's wet dream. What woman wouldn't want to have a one night stand with a drunken, fat, vulgar, irresponsible, dirty looking slob?" After all, this is the United States, a country where dull-witted, white males with IQs smaller than their waistlines deserve and eventually garner the glories of life as depicted in MTV music videos.
And in a country with a deteriorating educational system and a president whose verbal abilities are something to sneeze at, stupidity should be lauded so the populace can feel good about itself. There's no doubt director/writer Apatow is supplying a national service by allowing the inept to feel adequate about themselves.
What's odd here is that Apatow is being praised as the savior of American comedy by the media's elite tastemakers. A more appropriate judgment would deem him a retrograde, misogynistic purveyor of lowlife morality. But in his 40 Year Old Virgin, Apatow similarly had 90 or so minutes of sexist, primeval fart fare unto which he attached a five-minute moral ending. Yes, fooling around with big-bosomed, empty-headed nymphets won't bring you happiness. Settle for a sweeter Plain Jane, aging woman with brains.
"Okay, but you sure did make those party girls seem like fun!"
The problem with all of Apatow's oeuvre is that his gags are arguing consistently for the opposite of what he so disingenuously sends forth as his final message.
However, compared to Dennis Dugan, helmer of the reprehensible I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Apatow comes off as the G.E. Moore of Hollywood philosophers. While constantly spouting its be-kind-to-your-neighborhood-queer sermons, every dated, vicious stereotype of homosexuality is dragged out again and again in this Adam Sandler vehicle. Being gay has never seemed so gloomy and ridiculous. And note how the two leads' greatest fear is kissing another male. Yeuchhh!!!!
But as Woody Allen has noted, a nation gets the celebrities it deserves â€“ and now possibly the films, too. With moral hypocrisy raking in the moolah this summer, you can be sure that a whole bunch more films with right-wing agendas costumed in halter tops, high heels, and mascara are just strutting around the corner ready to take over your local mall-plex. â€“ Brandon Judell
Mr. Judell, who's currently teaching "Contemporary Israeli/Palestinian Cinema" at City College, has written on film for The Village Voice, indieWire, Detour, and dozens of other publications.