Knocked Up

1. Knocked up (2007) [Rated R for sexual content, drug use and language.]

summary from imdb.com:

A one night stand turns into the unexpected for Ben, when Alison announces to him that she is now pregnant with his child. Ben decides that the best thing to do is to get his life sorted so he can care for Alison and his new child, which isn’t an easy job for him.

directed/written by: Judd Apatow

starring: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Martin Starr, Charlyne Yi, Joanna Kerns, Harold Ramis, Alan Tudyk, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Ken Jeong, Craig Robinson, Loudon Wainwright III, Adam Scott, J.P. Manoux, Mo Collins, James Franco, Ryan Seacrest

Conservo-Libertarian Reviews:
Kyle Smith
Kurt Loder
Kathryn Jean Lopez at the National Review
John Podhoretz at the Weekly Standard
Peter Lawler
movieguide.org Christian reviews

A Trailer

Abortion/Life Content:

Jay Baruchel: I think it’s awesome that you’re gonna have a kid, man. Think about it like this. It’s just an excuse to play with all your old toys again.

Jonah Hill: You know what I think you should do? Take care of it.

Baruchel: Tell me you don’t want him to get an “A” word.

Hill: Yes, I do, and I won’t say it for Little Baby Ears over there, but it rhymes with “Shma-shmortion.” I’m just saying… Hold on, Jay, cover your ears. You should get a shma-shmortion at the shma-shmortion clinic.

Baruchel: Ben, you cannot let these monsters have any part of your child’s life.

Joanna Kerns: Allison, just take care of it. Take care of it. Move on. What’s gonna happen with your career? How are you gonna tell them?

Katherine Heigl: I’m not gonna tell them for a while. I have a while before I have to say anything.

Kerns: How could you not tell them?

Heigl: They’re not gonna know. I mean, I’m only gonna start to show when I’m like, I don’t know, six months or something. Seven months.

Kerns: Three months.

Heigl: No.

Kerns: Three months. Fat in the face, jowls, fat #ss.

Heigl: Debbie didn’t get fat.

Kerns: Debbie is a freak of nature.

Heigl: Mom, you know, it’s important to me that you be supportive.

Kerns: I cannot be supportive of this. This is a mistake. This is a big, big mistake. Now, think about your stepsister. Now, you remember what happened with her? She had the same situation as you, and she had it taken care of. And you know what? Now she has a real baby. Honey, this is not the time.

Katherine Heigl: You know, I was just calling to… To let you know that I’ve decided to keep the baby. I’m keeping it.

Seth Rogen: Oh.

Heigl: Yeah. So, that’s what’s happening with that.

Rogen: Good. That’s good. That’s what I was hoping you’d do. So, awesome.

Heigl: Yeah. Yeah, it is good.

Rogen: Okay, I know we didn’t plan this, and, you know, neither of us really thought it was gonna happen, but life is like that, you know, you can’t plan for it. And even if we did plan, life doesn’t care about your plans, necessarily. And you just kind of have to go with the flow and, you know, I know my job is to just support you in whatever it is you wanna do, and, I’m in, you know. So whatever you wanna do, I’m gonna do, you know. It’s… I’m on board. Yay!

Heigl: I really appreciate you saying that.

==================================

from FilmChat:

And now, Knocked Up.

Yes, the father’s boorish buddies come closer than anyone else to using “the a-word”. But what about the scene between Alison and her mother? The elder woman tells the younger one to “take care of it”, and tells her to wait until she’s ready to have “a real baby”. What a callous line! The reason Alison is so torn up over what to do is precisely because the creature growing inside of her is real. I don’t think it’s all that big a stretch to say that Alison chooses to keep the baby because she recoils at her mother’s attitude.

I’m not necessarily saying that writer-director Judd Apatow and his team of improvising actors were trying to go all “pro-life” on us. But I do think they were at least finding comedic value in subverting conventional wisdom, here and elsewhere in the film, and if the conventional wisdom happens to be pro-choice…

here’s part of a transcript from collider.com of a press conference featuring director Judd Apatow:

And secondly, I don’t think the word abortion ever comes up in this.

The word smushmortion comes up.

Was that to keep it funny and not be serious?

Well, I think it’s obviously an important aspect of the movie – is will she keep the baby and the decision whether or not to keep the baby. And from the very beginning we knew we wanted to have a moment where Seth and his idiotic stone friends debate abortion. And we actually improvised for five hours, these \guys debating the issue. Some of it you will see on the DVD. And it’s very, very funny, but really shocking and disturbing. It may have killed Jerry Falwell. (Laughs.) It may be, I think that that he knew it was out there and he just could not handle. But it is part of the movie, because the movie is about two people trying to decide how they are going to handle the fact that a baby is coming. And the first decision you make is, ‘Am I going to keep the baby?’ And part of what is interesting to me is that it’s two people trying to do the right thing and keep the baby. And they are trying to decide if they ever could like each other which is probably something most people don’t do and that’s what hopefully makes it an original concept. I am pro chose and I don’t think anyone should tell anyone else what to do with their bodies or their points of view. I think those decisions are very personal and no one has the answer, so I am pretty solid in that position. But, I also think it’s a very interesting story when you decide not to get an abortion. And I am also kind of surprised that it’s shocking to people that they don’t get an abortion because some people say, ‘Wouldn’t they just get an abortion?’ Is it so weird that in this day and age that people are uncomfortable doing that? So, everyone has their own take on it and subjective view on it. And in terms of the comedy in terms of what I’ll show or what I won’t show, I just want it to seem real. So the reason that I show the crowning shot is if I don’t If I don’t show it I just look like an episode of ‘Friends’ and I am trying to make you feel the pain of that that experience, because it is the most intense moment in people’s lives and I had to do something that hadn’t been done before. My original goal was to find a woman who would allow me to shoot the baby coming out and then match it into Catherine – the same sheets, the same bed. And we got close to getting it done, but here’s why we weren’t allowed to. And this is interesting. The state of California says you can’t do that because the unborn child would need a worker’s permit and I can’t get it till he’s born. There is a Kurt Vonnegut problem right there. So, we weren’t able to do it, so it became a prosthetic.

from an interview with actor Seth Rogen at The A.V. Club:

AVC: In the movie, the decision on whether to keep the baby is settled pretty quickly. You have that scene where Jonah Hill suggests something “that rhymes with sma-smortion,” but the story doesn’t linger there long. Was there any discussion of having that decision be a bigger part of the movie? Or is that sort of a non-starter as far as the comedy goes?

SR: We always knew that was not something we wanted to dwell on. It wasn’t a movie about a woman deciding whether she should keep her baby; it was about a woman who decided she was going to keep the baby. We shot a lot of versions of the scene with Katherine and her mother, where her mother’s talking about it. And there’s the scene you mentioned where the guys talk about it. But ultimately, we just used as much or as little of it as we felt we needed to and was entertaining. Politically, I have no relevant opinions. I’m not going to shatter anyone’s world by our take on Planned Parenthood. But it just seemed like, you need her to make that decision to get to the other hour and a half of the movie, so let’s just try to get there.

from an interview with writer/director Judd Apatow at The Guardian:

As for the accusation from some quarters that Knocked Up was anti-abortion, Apatow shrugs easily: “I’m as pro-choice as you can get, but the movie would have been 10 minutes long if she had an abortion.”

from an interview with actor Jay Baruchel at UGO.com:

UGO: How similar are you to your character?

JAY: I like weapons and Canada, and weed. Those three things are fun. But I’m not nearly as Christian as the abortion scene makes me seem. As it was in Undeclared, it’s a thinly veiled version of me.

from Rick Santorum:

But the biggest shift came at the movies. In a nation with one of the world’s most wide-open abortion regimes, U.S. audiences flocked to see five motion pictures with life-affirming texts or subtexts: Knocked up, Waitress, Bella, August Rush and Juno.

In these movies, abortion was urged on women facing an unplanned pregnancy, and rejected. Ultrasound images awakened characters and audiences to the humanity of the unborn. Having a baby, even in the most challenging circumstances, became the compelling “choice.” Adoption was held up as a positive alternative to abortion. And, unlike the news media’s portrayal of pro-lifers, protesters outside abortion clinics were authentically depicted as warm and concerned. This stood in contrast to the indifference of the staff within.

These movies came from four different companies (Waitress and Juno are Fox Searchlight movies) and right out of our pop culture. Given the degraded state of that culture, this sometimes comes at a price when it comes to a movie’s language, humor, and the treatment of sexual relations. Bella is a gentle celebration of family and adoption amid an unplanned pregnancy. August Rush is a PG-rated look at the gut-wrenching consequences of an out-of-wedlock affair. But Knocked Up, Waitress and Juno are most certainly hip-deep in today’s bawdy mainstream culture.

Any movie titled Knocked Up is not going to win awards for decorum, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Its pro-life, pro-marriage message – Alison (Katherine Heigl) decides she wants to have the baby after she becomes pregnant during a one-night stand – comes wrapped in X-rated language, sex jokes and drug abuse.

In Waitress, abused Jenna (Keri Russell) decides to have a baby instead of an abortion while having an adulterous affair with her doctor.

As for Juno, for all its tenderness and antiabortion, pro-adoption themes, it’s pretty edgy. But it’s exactly these movies’ connection to the pop culture that makes them so heartening.

They are meeting audiences where they live, and, through good storytelling, smart – if often raw – dialogue, and compelling character development, are presenting themes we rarely associate with much of our popular culture. And audiences and critics are largely saying “two thumbs up.”

The best thing about all of these movies is, they are not “pro-life” message movies. They are, instead, chronicles from the children of our divorce- and abortion-oriented culture. There is lived experience, emotional understanding, hard-earned authenticity at the heart of these scripts. And pain.

One of the most poignant recurring themes may be the message to baby-boom parents from their own children. The characters most often urging abortion on the expectant mother were aging boomers, and they are not attractive moments. In August Rush, Lyla’s father tells her that her baby was killed in an auto accident and gives the child to an orphanage – to protect her career. After career-bound Alison becomes pregnant in Knocked Up, it’s her mother who urges her to have an abortion – she can always have “a real baby” later on.

Alison doesn’t take her mother’s advice. She decides to have her baby after seeing the unborn child’s heart beat on a monitor. What ultimately triumphs in Knocked Up and these other movies is the simple reality of human life.

On the way to an abortion, Juno Ellen Page stops and talks to a nerdy but caring pro-life schoolmate who is protesting there. As Juno continues into the clinic, the girl calls out, “Your baby has fingernails!”

Your baby has fingernails: It’s enough to stop Juno from going ahead with an abortion.

Yes, the ultrasound – and now Hollywood – see that unborn baby whose eyes, spinal cord, nervous system, liver and stomach are developing within the first month, whose heart begins beating at 18 days. That unborn child who can make a tiny fist, hiccup, wake and sleep at three months.

It may be a small thing in our vast pop culture. But what a blessing small things can be.

from pro-abortion commenter Liz Foley at Susie Bright’s Journal:

Susie, as soon as I saw the title of this post I knew you were going to say what I’ve been thinking ever since I first saw the “Juno” trailer. I haven’t even seen “Waitress” yet (it’s winging its way to me from Netflix as we speak), but the one-two punch of “Knocked Up” and “Juno,” and the popular and critical acclaim they’ve both been greeted with, has been enough to make me paranoid.

This is the new pro-life sell to a generation of postfeminist, sexually entitled girls and young women: Have the baby, and you’ll be rewarded with a good sexual relationship. (I can’t personally be persuaded that Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen’s relationship in “Knocked Up” qualifies as such—I found it mostly depressing—but the general public appears to disagree with me.) Theoretically, the anti-abortion movement doesn’t approve of women having and enjoying sexual relationships, especially the pre- or extra-marital kind on display in these two movies, but they’ve always been hypocritical and opportunistic, not to say desperate, enough to use whatever weapons came to hand, and they do take particular satisfaction in seizing feminism’s own values and victories for use in their antifeminist cause (cf., especially, the tactics of the anti-abortion Feminists for Life).

Hence the new message: the way to good sex in a stable relationship is through childbearing. Anybody who’s been a parent, or even lived in the real world with their eyes open for a few years, is laughing more or less bitterly at that thought, but can’t you just see its pernicious fairy-tale appeal to a lot of girls and women (not all of them young women, either)? The new wrinkle that “Juno” contributes to the message is that you don’t even have to raise the child yourself, girls. Just HAVE the f###ing thing, and the love and sex you long for can still be yours. In both these movies, conveniently for traditionalism, the love and sex are to be obtained from the actual father of the baby, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see even this rule relaxed, as long as the woman does the all-important thing, having the baby.

No, I don’t think that Judd Apatow or Diablo Cody are pro-life themselves—probably not even subconsciously. But their movies nonetheless play beautifully into the movement’s hands: Look, the antis can say with fingers pointing, even the godless leftists of Hollywood are starting to see the light! And with the arrival of “Juno,” a previously unaddressed segment of the adolescent girl population is targeted: eccentrics and rebels. You might dismiss the example of Katherine Heigl—after all, her character is just a boring yuppie. But when someone as smart, irreverent and independent as Ellen Page’s character decides she can’t go through with an abortion because the fetus “has fingernails,” giving in to the have-the-baby party line can be passed off as actually resisting peer pressure and fearlessly embracing one’s individual impulses.

from Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review:

When Joanna Kerns (formerly the mom on Growing Pains) tells her daughter Alison to do what her sister did — think of her career (she’s an on-air interviewer at E!) and have a “real baby” later, when the time is “right” — there’s no question you’re repulsed. Alison’s going to choose to keep the baby and — besides there being no movie if she doesn’t — she doesn’t even seem to seriously consider the option. There’s no anti-abortion speech, she just does it: She just chooses to take responsibility for her remarkably irresponsible night out. She calls Ben and he sweetly provides support, echoing the words of his thrice-divorced but loving father (played by Harold Ramis).

In Knocked Up abortion is presented as an option whose time has come and gone. You don’t get a baby “taken care of,” not when you can see the little one and her heartbeat on a monitor on the first post-conception doctor visit. Not when even loser Ben’s dad can tell him he’s the “best thing that ever happened” to him. Not when we know that Alison’s sister had an unexpected pregnancy, and that Alison wouldn’t have that beautiful but bratty six-year-old niece she loves.

That’s the refreshing part of the movie: There’s no question it embraces life. If you stretched optimism a little bit further you would see some kind of ode to marriage in it. First off, even Ben, whose only real relationship is with his bong, thinks he should “make an honest woman” out of Alison — proposing to her with an empty box and a promise that there’s a ring to come if he ever makes a killing off his “job” (a not-yet-launched website showing hot actresses in their movie nude scenes). And instead of laughing at the sitcom model of bitchy wife (played by Leslie Mann) abusing the nice-guy husband (Paul Rudd), we watch a mean wife nearly ruin her marriage. While hitting a club to celebrate her sister’s promotion (and her whole source of confidence being that she knows men there would want to have sex with her), she’s got her own husband so unhappy he feels the need to lie to her about his fantasy baseball league. (Not that he’s a model husband either; he lies about going to work when he’s actually going to a movie.)

The only reason we have hope for these characters is the baby, who only appears at the end. The baby doesn’t destroy Alison’s career. The baby nurtures a love between Alison and Ben, a very unlikely couple. The baby ultimately brings the unhappily married (for no real good reason) Debbie and Peter back together…

from Ezra Klein:

I also agree with much of Amanda’s review. The early efforts of folks on both the Right and the Left to brand the movie pro-life were discomfiting. Some in my group seemed genuinely distressed that the main character didn’t choose an abortion, and were ready to write off the film for that initial bit of betrayal. I found that baffling.

The flick is pro-choice in the most literal sense of the term. Katherine Heigl’s character receives advice in both directions, and then makes a decision — a decision the audience may very well conclude is the wrong one. But she has a choice; nothing is forced on her, and the most explicit scene on abortion features an eloquent speech by her mother advising her to end the pregnancy because, at this point, she’s not ready, and these are not the right circumstances. Heigl, it turns out, disagrees, but that’s a perfectly allowable, and indeed respectable, decision within the choice framework. I was, like Brian, disappointed in the movie for making things work out so perfectly (her pregnancy actually ends up aiding her job), but that was a minor sin, and one more attributable to the conventions of romantic comedies than any rightwing agenda. In any case, a good movie, and one that I’d happily see a second time. It’s far more fun than the substantive commentary here would suggest.

from Amanda Marcotte’s pro-abortion blog Pandagon.net:

Still, I can see why some pea-brained conservatives seek validation for their misogynist political opinions from the previews of the movie. From the preview, the movie seems like a wet dream for anti-choicers, a story of an uppity b#### who gets hers by getting trashed and sleeping with the wrong guy, which leads to punishment-by-pregnancy. Add in the college Republican fantasy of being able to trap a wife through pregnancy, and you’ve got a bit of anti-choice propaganda. Those folks will be sorely disappointed by the movie, unless they’re too dumb to pick up on the not-really-subtle subtleties, particularly with the way that the movie sides with Alison’s right to have her own life and career despite being pregnant. While the movie does play up the tired sitcom stereotype about women-trapping-childish-men, particularly in scenes where Ben and Alison’s brother-in-law hang out and b#### about women, Apatow also makes it clear that women also feel trapped at times, sympathetically portraying a scene where pregnant Alison and her sister are denied entrance to a club and feel the sting of being shoved into Madonna-or-whore roles. Not that Apatow is pushing a feminist agenda, but he’s character-driven enough of a writer to get that female characters need to be full human beings as well, so that could very well disconcert a lot of anti-choice types flocking to the movie in hopes it upholds their sexist prejudices. It passes the “Mo/Bechdel Movie Measure” in spades, even going so far as to subtly show how one conversation between women that seems to be about men is actually more about fears of aging, exactly the sort of humanizing touch that probably sets off the “selfish b####es” alarm inside the eager-beaver sexists. Also, the very things that seem like markers of the “uppity b#### gets hers” plot promised in the preview are instead reasons that Alison chooses to have the baby—a recent promotion, a supportive family, a home life where one more kid won’t make a big difference. […]

Unfortunately, as you can imagine, Apatow chickens out on the ending. Oh well. I’d pay good money to get inside his head and find out if he’d rather have had the ending that the movie’s plot and characterizations pointed to and he just gave into the profit-motivated pressure not to ruffle audiences with prejudices against willfully single mothers, or if he honestly thinks his resolution was a good one. You leave the nuclear-family-glowing ending not so much feeling like it was a bit of patriarchal propaganda as feeling that the movie itself fell victim to these pressures, and there’s a smarter, more true-to-life movie inside.

from ExileStreet:

While viewers wallow in profanity, vulgarity, and general tastelessness, they will also see some amazing live ultrasound images of a developing unborn child in the womb – easily enough to give lie to any assertion by abortion rights advocates that what is in the womb is merely a “bunch of cells” or the purposefully vague “products of conception.”

[…]

Images Matter

Knocked Up is not shy – about anything. The film is about a beautiful, upwardly-mobile woman named Alison who ends up in a drunken one-night stand with an amusing, but homely, pot-smoking unemployed slacker, Ben. As a result of some miscommunication during their inebriated tryst, Alison becomes pregnant. But neither is the film shy about showing the development of an unborn child as an unbroken stream of events beginning with conception and continuing through birth. The first images the audience sees looks like an educational film about conception. We see initial cell division. Then, at eight or nine weeks, we watch an ultrasound technician point to a flickering image on the screen, which he identifies for the couple as the baby’s heartbeat. Live ultrasound images continue to serve as benchmarks throughout Alison’s pregnancy at sixteen, twenty-four, and twenty-eight weeks, to allow viewers to know just how far along she is.

Knocked Up does not avoid the abortion controversy. Alison’s mother strongly argues that Alison get an abortion – claiming that Alison’s stepsister aborted, and “now she has a real baby.” It seems that Alison’s mother does not consider that grandchildren in utero are “real.” It appears that she never managed to read this little snippet from an otherwise pro-abortion rights editorial published in California Medicine, September 1970:

“Since the old ethic has not yet been fully displaced it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death.”

Ben’s roommates – Jonah and Jay – are split in their advice. Jonah does everything but command Ben to pressure Alison to abort. But Jay is supportive of having the baby. Over lunch, Ben’s dad tells him that he is happy. Ben wants to know whether his father’s life would have been better had Ben never been born, but his dad just smiles and says, “No – best thing that ever happened to me.” Ultimately, Alison announces that she is keeping the baby, and Ben tells her that he was hoping she would.

No rationale is given in the film for her decision to keep her baby, but certainly seeing the evidence of her child’s beating heart must have played some role. Images of children in utero can help to overcome our culture’s irrational idea that the physical fact and moral worth of the human person that is in a woman’s womb from the moment of conception should be determined solely on the basis of whether or not she is happy about her pregnancy at the time. Sure, Alison cries at this first, conclusive evidence of her untimely pregnancy. But it is not long after that she commits to carry her baby. Knocked Up is an outstanding argument for the need for women to see what is going on inside their bodies when they are pregnant. If your local pro-life pregnancy counseling center is not equipped with an ultrasound machine and a licensed technician to run it – help them get both – quick!

from the pro-abortion commenter dbshawn at feministing.com:

Alas, I don’t know how to properly respond to this because I haven’t seen the movie yet. Abortion is still a very complex issue and I suspect that the female character’s desire to try and “work it out” is one of the reasons that abortion is not seriously considered. On the other hand, it is true that these characters would ponder the subject, especially since they weren’t in a real relationship to begin with and had nothing else to bind them together.

As a writer myself, I suspect that Apatow has chosen as many difficult situations as possible to put the couple through to see if they can weather the storm (and give us comedic relief). Also, his characters tend to be very traditional in their thinking and behavior even though they’re all Freeks and Geeks. Obviously his personal stamp is coming forward in every character’s decision.

As a woman I (obviously) know that the thought of abortion would come into the equation. But I have to say that watching fictional characters deal with it still unnerves me.

I worked with a woman who tried to abort a fetus TWICE and for whatever reason the abortion wouldn’t “take”. So she had to give birth and now has a wonderful daughter. But after she told me her daughter’s “birth” story, I didn’t think her daughter would want to know how she almost didn’t come into the world.

Has anyone written THAT abortion story?

I guess it comes down to the value systems of the characters and whether or not the writers can remove themselves from the equation.

from Warner Todd Huston at Newsbusters.org:

One interesting portion of Navarro’s NYTimes review, however, was a bit shocking for it’s unexpected honesty.

While pondering exactly why it might be that movie makers don’t show abortion as regularly as she would like, Navarro seems to admit that abortion is unsavory and makes the aborter an “unsympathetic character”, revealing that even she knows deep in her heart that abortion is somehow wrong and/or bad.

Perhaps directors of feel-good movies don’t want to risk portraying their heroines as unsympathetic characters.

If I didn’t think that Sigmund Freud was such a fraud, I’d say Navarro had a bout with parapraxis… or to be less pedantic, she had a Freudian slip there.

Navarro scolds the movie because conservative anti-abortion advocates are recommending the film for the fact that its characters don’t consider an abortion as a viable parenting option.

Some on the anti-abortion side seem to think so. Many conservative bloggers have claimed “Knocked Up” as an anti-choice movie, in part because the movie never presents abortion as a serious option.

Gasp! The horrors!

In any case, each and every one of these political positions parading as a movie review says the same thing about the reason that Hollywood is reticent to highlight the abortion option in their films. They all assume that the box office take would be a bust for a film where expectant Mothers go about killing their babies.

And this begs the question… if abortion is so well accepted by everyone, if it is so matter of factly an option for most “sensible” Americans, why would a movie that reflects that be such an obvious bomb? Could it be because even common folks who accept abortion at some perfunctory level don’t want to see movies where Mothers kill their babies? Could it be that even nominal supporters of abortion are uncomfortable with the procedure when all is said and done? Could it also be that far more people are either totally against abortion or are at least are uncomfortable with its moral implications than there are those who easily accept it as a mere choice in life?

In any case, these abortion supporting reviewers seem to be straight forwardly admitting that their blasé views on abortion are in the minority — making them an awfully small audience — and this would seem to be troublesome when spending the millions it takes to make a film.

Were I a movie producer, I think I’d like my film to get a wider audience than that tiny fragment of the country who are rabid abortion advocates.

from the pro-abortion Freelancette:

It really bugged me how the girl (Alison Scott, played by Grey’s Anatomy’s Katherine Heigl) didn’t give abortion a second thought. Alison is a radiantly gorgeous, ambitious young producer for an entertainment news program who was just offered an on-screen promotion. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for her, and she knows it. The boy (Ben Stone, played by Seth Rogen) is a pothead slacker with suspect career aspirations who is currently living off the insurance settlement from an accident that took place in his teens.

While I can buy the idea of these two getting it on (Ben’s benignly jokey and cute in a cuddly, bearish sort of way), I was not convinced that Alison would sleep with Ben a second time — never mind attempt to raise a child with him! More than that, there’s no way a woman like this, a woman in the prime of her personal and professional life, who could have any man she wants and has at least twelve good child-bearing years to find a good one, whose dream job of interviewing celebs on television just fell in her toned, non-pregnant lap, would chose to give birth to this ill-conceived baby. Okay, maybe if she was an extreme, fundamentalist religious fanatic, but that’s the only reason I can come up with. There’s nothing in this movie to make us think that Alison is obsessed with kids, or with her biological clock, or mortality or even Ben! If this were real life, a smart, self-possessed career gal like Alison would seriously consider terminating her pregnancy, and something pretty intense would have to happen in order to convince her to keep the baby. On second thought: if this was real life, Alison and her sister (with whom she’s very close), would split for the abortion clinic the second they saw that double line on the pregnancy test. Why does this otherwise clever, thoughtful movie insist on thumbing its nose at reality, and feminist politics?

Yes, I caught (and admittedly liked) the “smashmortion” line, but that was just between boys, and doesn’t do anything to explain why Alison isn’t taking the abortion option — it merely hints at why the movie isn’t (my guess: to avoid alienating viewers, to keep things light and fun). Alison’s mother was the only one who brings the idea up to her, and not in a very persuasive or supportive manner. In fact, the mom is portrayed as cold, unsympathetic and rather unlikable. And this is the only pro-choice voice we (and Alison) will hear. If the movie wants to avoid talking about abortion (which I think it does), then why include this at all?

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One Response to Knocked Up

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