Confession Time

Last night I went to see Knocked Up.

I could claim that I was dragged to the theatre and that I didn't really want to see this movie, but that would be a lie.
I went with my cousin, (who also “dragged” me to see Blades of Glory and almost convinced me to see Borat) and his girlfriend, but to be perfectly honest I was enthralled by the premise of the movie: a pro-life, marriage-affirming, serious human drama, which also happens to be a comedy from the makers of The 40 Year-Old Virgin. I probably would have seen Knocked Up anyway, but maybe not until DVD.

Put briefly: Knocked Up is a film I would never watch with anyone who didn't know me very well. Further, I would never even recommend it to anyone who didn't already have a taste for over-the-top frat-boy humour of the worst sort. There is very little subtlety in the sexual comedy of this film, which is the whole point: things are more shocking when they aren't left to the imagination. The comedy moves beyond a parody or satire into the realm of something more deviant--the fetishizing and exploitation of everyday sexual situations. Am I admitting to a taste for this kind of humour? Well... not really. I didn't laugh at every joke, but I felt guilty for many of the times I did laugh.

That said, there is something enthralling about a film so far gone that is nevertheless full of characters who insist on taking a moral stand. Ben Stone, the central male character, is a foul-mouthed pothead from BC whose sole ambition is to run a pseudo-pornographic website with his four stoner housemates. What's encouraging about Ben is that he doesn't remain a drug-abusing loser; when he finally realizes the extent of his responsibilities as a father, his life changes. (I'm still confused about how he manages to get a respectable web-design job without a green card, but maybe I'm just nitpicking now...)

The situation for the female lead is less impressive, but maybe that's the hallmark of a male-oriented comedy. Alison makes the difficult decision of keeping the baby against the advice of everyone around her, but once over that hurdle her most difficult decision seems to be choosing a gynecologist.

On the whole, I'm torn about how I should respond to this movie. On the one hand, there's a very clear message behind this film that I really appreciated; a message that seems totally lost in so many of the empty comedies that are popular with the kids these days. Last year (or was it two years ago?) I heard many glowing reviews of Wedding Crashers from otherwise-reputable sources of counsel; that movie was as empty as a school library in July. Sure, they refrained for gratuitous use of the F-word, but that's not a redeeming quality so much as a concession to ratings panels.
On the other hand, Knocked Up represents a normalizing influence: if this film is not just satire or parody, if there's "real" drama here, then our world is further gone than we used to think; the norm has shifted to the point that we accept defective and self-destructive lifestyles as tolerable or even acceptable. I don't want Ben Stone to exist in real life, just as I don't want divorced couples or abusive fathers or deranged teenagers to exist, but that can't change the reality of our situation.
Maybe that's why I'm an English major: I just do this for a living; I don't have to choose how I think I'm supposed to respond as a Christian.

Father, forgive me, for I am totally and utterly lost in this world...

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