Knocked Up, Judd Apatow (2007)

Seth Rogen, not Katherine Heigl, is on the posters and DVD labels for this movie, even though it’s Heigl’s character who faces the far more challenging and vulnerable position in the plot (it’s she, not he, who’s got a zygote in her guts). Why? Because the movie doesn’t give a shit about Heigl’s problem; it’s entirely concerned with Rogen’s character’s problem, which in Apatow’s view is far more grave: he has to give birth to an adult version of himself. Compared to that, Apatow thinks, pushing out a little baby, and taking responsibility for it, is child’s play. And after all, isn’t that what women are supposed to do anyway?

The layers of absurdity and perniciousness in this misogynist anti-choice tract would take a dissertation to strip away. For starters, though, just consider the portrayal of Heigl’s character. She is an adult woman with an on-camera television job in Hollywood. So she’s got to be pulling down, at the minimum, what, $150K? But she lives in a little apartment behind the house where her sister and brother in law and their adorable children live. Why? And she seems to have no friends or boyfriends — none — other than her sister. Why? And when she finds she’s pregnant after a one-night stand with a total zero, she never — never! — even considers aloud the possibility of having an abortion. Why?

The solution to all these mysteries is simple: Apatow believes that Heigl’s got no life, no friends, no sense of direction or volition, because she’s not yet got a baby. So when the prospect of motherhood appears, she has to accept it, despite its problematic circumstances.

Heigl’s character, presumably like all women, exists only to give birth to other people, both in the form of little babies and in the form of turning boys into men by foisting adult responsibilities upon them and forcing them to break their adolescent relationships with other men. This is a big responsibility, and unsurprisingly leaves Heigl little or no time to think about developing or enjoying her own identity as a human. And so we learn almost nothing about her. She works in TV and lives in her sister’s backyard and gets knocked up and is pretty. No friends, no boyfriends, no hobbies, no vacations, not even a parakeet.

And so we turn our attention to Rogen, who in 133 minutes is transformed from a guy who likes to smoke pot while wearing an army surplus gas mask into a guy who, at Heigl’s bedside while she’s in labor, issues authoritative commands to her doctor, her sister, and . . . you guessed it . . . to Heigl herself! He tells her what to do, and she’s grateful! He has no job, money, responsibility, respect, or empathy, but now he’s suddenly in charge?

It’s so sick I can’t think about it any more.

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