I came home from a heady feminist conference this weekend in the mood for some slightly lighter fare. So on Sunday my beau and I went to see Knocked Up -- the original plan was Spiderman 3, but Judd Apatow won out. Yesterday, my dear boy sent me the links to reviews in Salon and Slate. "Both positive," he wrote in the email, "but Slate has gender issues."
So did I.
Let me say first that I enjoyed the movie, wholeheartedly. I laughed. And I cringed. Maybe it was my feminist hangover from the conference, but I pretty quickly got the sense that Knocked Up was a pregnancy movie for boys, by boys. Which is great. I mean, we need those, and we need them badly. Men are parents, too. It's about time we had some sensitive stories about what it's like for men to become fathers -- when they're so-called ready and especially when they're not. I love that the Ben character (Seth Rogen) walks the three miles to the gyno's office even after Allison (Katherine Heigl) throws him out of the car, and that he eventually reads the pregnancy books. And Apatow's portrayal of male bonding throughout the movie was disgustingly sweet -- by which I mean disgusting at times, according to this perhaps-too-easily-grossed-out-girly-girl reviewer, but I get it: genuine and sweet.
Still, I agree with Slate's Dana Stevens, who comments that, in this movie at least, Apatow doesn't get (or write) chicks as well as he writes (and gets) dudes. Knocked Up is eons from being misogynist. But the movie's two basic premises -- that, kaboom! young rising professional Alison wants to keep the baby, recent-life-changing-promotion-notwithstanding, and that she's willing to take such a heartfelt second look at the guy who severely grossed her out the morning after -- struck me as forced vocabulary. This is Guyland indeed: pregnant is "knocked up," abortion is referred to in euphemism ("rhymes with 'shmashmortion"), and (spoiler alert!!) the geek gets the prom queen. In other words, it's a fantasy about the sensitive slacker who, learns, through impending fatherhood, to grow up -- and gets the girl. (The girl, to be fair, finds love where she least expects it. Fairy tale endings for all!) (Spoiler ends here!!)
When the lights came up and my beloved dude turned to me and said, "I loved it!", I didn't want to be a spoilsport and offered up an enthusiastic, "Me too!" But truth be told, my love for this movie is qualified. Sure, I'm willing to suspend disbelief when the Grey's Anatomy hottie grew soft on a guy she couldn't even get through breakfast with, and even after he flunked the second date. But when the image of a crowning baby head elicited the same "eew!" as the scene where Ben's roomies transmit pink eye by farting on each other's pillows (don't ask), my grossdar got offended. Next time someone makes a movie about pregnancy for guys, maybe someone could throw us lingering feminist girly girls a little more than just a bone?