Sunday, July 15, 2007

Knocked Up

"Ultimately, what makes Knocked Up a terrific film—one of the year's best, easily—is its relaxed, shaggy vibe; if it feels improvised in places, that's because Apatow trusts his actors enough to let them make it up as they go, like the people they're playing. It's more than just a loose-limbed variation on About a Boy. It's a sincere meditation on adulthood, accountability, and fidelity—and, yeah, getting high."

The above paragraph closes Village Voice writer Robert Wilonsky's review of Knocked Up, and what's strange is that it's hard to tell at all how much he liked the film in the paragraphs beforehand. (He mostly just describes the film, the actors, and what happens in it.) So the whole review is basically a plot review, the most cursory "auteur" analysis of Judd Apatow ('look, he does similar stuff on his handful of TV shows and his one other feature film'), and then a tacked on sentiment: 'It's just really great because it just feels thrown-together, and it deals with serious stuff but also not-serious stuff.'

Count me as a skeptic. I laughed at parts of The 40-Year-Old Virgin. I laughed at parts of Knocked Up. (I haven't seen Apatow's TV work, and I certainly haven't dismissed him yet in that format--I'm quite willing to believe his talents are better suited for sitcoms than feature films in terms of conventions & likely possibilities.) But I feel miles away from the crowds of people who said (publicly, or to me in person) these not only seriously hilarious films, but that they were also shockingly, seriously good films, too. "One of the year's best, easily," indeed.

Eh.

What I see are two bald wish-fulfilment fantasies about groups of guys whose One Dude ends up romantically linked with a much hotter, and bizarrely much-more-socially-isolated woman. (Male comeraderie is important here, and Apatow himself acknowledges this in his films by giving Heigl a line about it in Knocked Up: it's not unself-conscious comeraderie, god forbid.) So there's obviously a wish-fulfilment element in these movies; OK; not the end of the world--tons of movies similarly are made with wish-fulfilment functions. But whose wishes, and how are they being fulfilled, and how honest are these films about it all?

The plot construction seems shaky, almost inept at times (there's not much flow, such as the total ellipsis of any kind of return trip after Rogen & Rudd take an all-night trip to Vegas, leaving their neurotic significant others behind). This doesn't bother me much. And in fact I think some critics--such as Wilonsky--have expressed their opinion that this is part of the film's charm. Perhaps it is. But what does seem strange is the arbitrariness of the characters once they're placed in that plot. Mann, as the neurotic wife, is a total cipher, basically she has two or three levels of 'neurotic' that rise & fall on the basis of narrative convenience and nothing more. (She's neurotic enough to fuel a sideplot about marital jealousy, and to provide the foil for catharsis during Seth Rogen's speech near the end of the film--but sometimes she's pleasant, and as beshroomed Rogen explains to Rudd during their Vegas night out, and the viewers, who I'm not sure are given any information to be sure of this on our own, she's neurotic just because she loves hubbie Paul Rudd so damn much. Because, of course, Apatow-movie women don't have anything in their lives outside of family, geeky lover, and perhaps a trifling job. Passions & interests? Actual friends? Opinions on things outside family & love? Nah.) Not to mention the weird specter of class divisions that sits over the film, operating subtextually but clearly enough, but not quite highlighted outside of the issue of the main romantic mismatch--did anyone else squirm when Mann started cursing at the nightclub bouncer, demanding her right to not wait in line for the club, because he's merely a doorman, just a lowly bottom-feeder: a viciously classist explosion on the character's part that played awkwardly to me, and not in the way I think it was intended to feel awkward. (I know we've made a bit of progress in recognizing when comedy, or any kind of storytelling, uses rants against women in order to play on perceived or targeted aspects of viewers' misogyny; surely there are similar games being played to denigrate "the working class," though of course in America that's a less explored topic.) If Knocked Up made explicit, by means of dialogue or film form or anything, any of the Rudd/Mann family's financial privileges (evidenced only in the manner of their beautiful house and their beautiful birthday cake for the daughter and their beautiful svelte bodies, which is convention in Hollywood cinema of "middle-class" life, not actually a signifier of the real minoritarian wealth it represents) I'd be more inclined to treat Mann's rant as an example of her self-righteous sense of privilege ... but instead I got the sense we were being corraled into think nothing about the obvious class privilege itself but primarily, instead, merely 'What a pathetic uptight bitch, she shouldn't worry about being so old and being so controlling.' (And, so, well, could this be misogyny?)

I know, I know--I'm "supposed" to be laughing and thinking that it's great that this comedy passes off jokes about "Babe Ruth's gay brother, Gabe Ruth" and yet also says something "smart" about relationships and how life throws curveballs and there are no perfect fits, etc. ... but I just felt like I was seeing the gears & pulleys that operated all these jokes, seeing the assumptions that were intended to make us want to laugh ("get it, Steve Carrell is playing himself and he's kind of an awkward asshole"), and regardless of whether any particular joke was predicated on sexism or some other sociopolitically unsavory thing, the fact was that the jokes only rarely seemed to sing, only rarely seemed to snap--they mostly just played like "business as usual" to me. Like I'd heard the joke many times before. (I also just read Laura Kipnis' fascinating plain language theory book, Against Love, which hasn't inclined me to look upon the serious underpinnings of this basically conservative romantic comedy like this as anything agreeable or innocent.) I just couldn't locate a spark in this film, or 40-Year-Old Virgin, and it's not because I'm against all of these contemporary smart-dumb comedies: I am a devotee of Zoolander and Drop Dead Gorgeous; I will say a few kind words about Old School and even more kind words about Road Trip; I adore a lot of what's in the Farrelly Brothers' cinema (at least until 2003, I haven't kept up since then). It's not a matter of genre or of brow-height.

What I am intrigued by is the likelihood that Apatow is contemporary Hollywood's greatest apologist for suburbia: strip-mall, pop-culture, consumerist suburbia. Apatow is all about his characters having tons of at-your-fingertips pop culture knowledge (as even Mann's neurotic anti-geek whines at one point, "I like Spider-Man"), Macs, DVDs, posters, sports, mass-market junk food. It's all about watching TV, surfing the Net, going to the movies, buying knick-knacks, eating at godawful-looking chain restaurants (including the upscale ones): this, plus monogamy with a gorgeous woman, is "life." I wish someone would take footage from The 40-Year-Old Virgin, perversely turn it to high-contrast b&w, and edit it to some noise music to make a short film about the visual horror of strip malls & megastores & food courts flanking eight-lane roads. From these two movies, anyway, Apatow is totally at home in this world of PF Chang, RadioShack, Starbucks, Home Depot, and Sam Goody, and the houses we live in to fill with products from these places. It's his milieu in the same way that Woody Allen fictionalizes his New York, or that Larry David fictionalizes his Los Angeles. And I don't think he's critical of it at all--the closest he comes to it is in suggesting that pop culture and consumerism shouldn't be pursued to the points where (a) they keep you from being a productive worker in society (start a company on eBay! just go out and grab a web programming job!) and (b) they keep you from devoting attention to your hot love interest.

I'll probably pass on the next Apatow Laff Festival ...

23 comments:

Ryan B. said...

Dude- So not with you on this one. And I think I am one of the people who sang the film's praises before you saw it.

You dismiss a lot of what I think are the film's charms as schematic or shallow, which is fine. If it strikes you as trite or unfunny, that's a subjective response and there's not much can change that. But I strongly disagree about your reading of the film's engagement with class and privilege. Maybe it's because I've seen Freaks and Geeks, which in its short lifespan displayed a keen eye and a real devotion to exploring class issues, but I see Knocked Up as a pretty great movie exactly because it works these issues over intelligently. I think it is a film that very consciously discusses the negotiations and compromises, sometimes minor and sometimes unsavory, that most white surburbanites (let's be honest, it's intended audience) encounter. I think the film ultimately does skew a little conservative, sure, but I don't think it's a celebration of suburban excess. Apatow probably has different values than you and certainly reaches different conclusions regarding these issues, but he does engage them. The film is not intended as a Marxist text and I don't think it can be criticized for not being one.

Interestingly, I found the scene where the ladies go to the nightclub and encounter the articulate bouncer as a succinct summary of Apatow's strengths as a writer. When the bouncer explains to them why he won't let them in the club he turns over all the women's privileged assumptions and lets them know just how much race, gender, age, and money matter. What does he say? On a slow night he's only allowed to let in three black people and a midget? Just because you don't like where Apatow is coming from doesn't mean he hasn't considered the issues involved.

I urge you to be more generous with the film. Watch some Freaks and reconsider it. Freaks may be coated in a thick haze of nostalgia but it's an interesting and rich show.

Zach Campbell said...

Ryan, yeah I remember you telling me how much you liked it. I think it will come down to a critical meeting of rochambeau next time we see each other.

I don't expect the film to be Marxist, since pretty much no Hollywood film is. But how does the film "consciously discuss" the negotations and compromises of white suburbanites? Does the bouncer's speech really turn anything around for Mann's character? I thought it was a pretty basic joke, conceptually (big bouncer is sensitive, doesn't actually like his job), and that his pointing out her being "old as hell" wasn't exactly a concisive comment on privilege--he was simply pointing out how the business operates, on status & image, which I don't see as anything new, i.e., it's not a new concession for a film to make.

Apatow is aware of where he's coming from on a lot of these issues--he's not blind to certain elements class privilege (just as he's not blind to the fact that he's making movies about male comeraderie). I just don't see that he does anything with this knowledge that is new or interesting or insightful or ... anything. Knocked Up is far from the stupidest film out there, it has a certain baseline of self-awareness and intelligence. I definitely didn't hate the film. My reaction would be primarily expressed with a bemused shrug, and secondarily expressed with an irritation at what I think are the conservative-consumerist underpinnings of its (to put it bluntly) "message." It's not that the film is stupid or especially evil: it's that it's (to me) aggressively plain. In a related vein, a lot of the film's proponents are well aware that it's a wish-fulfilment fantasy, and are well aware that as such it's one-sided in Seth Rogen's favor, not Heigl's. My only question is, what else is there to it? (Aside from it being funny. Which I didn't think it was to any notable extent. But the raves don't usually seem to stop at that.) I'd really like to know. Because I see a kind of wish-fulfilment as the thrust of the whole picture, I don't see how it's transcended or built upon or justified, and merely acknowledging the fulfilment as such doesn't negate it as its function, does it?

I'll get to Freaks sooner or later. (Did I tell you I finally put The Wire on my Netflix queue?)

Derek said...

When I heard that Sarris had compared him to Sturges, I almost had a stroke. The obvious point of reference is Morgan's Creek, an imminently braver, funnier, and warmer film than Knocked Up. It was made during the war, for chrissakes, and tho abortion was even less of an option for Trudy Kockenlocker, the fallout from her unplanned pregnancy rings as true as anything in Apatow's upper-middle-class world.

How must a woman who has been forced to make such a decision for the right reasons, saddled by circumstances more than simply "inconvenient," negotiating the necessities of any tax bracket (but especially one closer to the ground) react to such a film? I found the treatment of abortion deeply offensive, despite Apatow's "honesty" about things like, well, the place of recreational drugs in his version of male camaraderie. I'd hope that any woman brave enough to do the right thing at one point in her life would see through this BS and not be thrown back into the anxieties and uncertainties that inevitably attend such an occasion, whatever the circumstances.

anon said...

Zach,

I agree with you about the wish-fulfillment aspect of Knocked Up, and I disliked the film because it of just how passive Heigl's character was. I got a rehash of the male point-of-view from The 40 Year Old Virgin rather than the two character piece the posters, ads, and aspects of the first reel (Heigl doesn't like kids; she doesn't have a great job; she doesn't seem to have many friends) promised. (I didn't mind this issue so much in The 40 Year Old Virgin, as I felt like that movie was quite open about being centered around Carrell and his compatriots.)

But I really have to side with Ryan about the nightclub scene. Craig Robinson's response to Mann's rant struck me as very on point -- He points out the absurdity of her neuroses about her looks, the seriousness of her failure in parenting (Heigl, once again, standing quietly pregnant in the background), and her failure to even consider the constraints of the Robinson's job. Sure, he doesn't explicitly bring up the fact that Mann is clearly a wealthy suburbanite, but that did not feel like a glaring omission to me.

It does not surprise me that you would cite movies like Old School and especially Road Trip as suburb-based comedies you enjoyed, as these movies have some strongly subversive elements (See Dan Savage's great capsule review of the sex-positive Road Trip
here
). Apatow, on the other hand, seems like the Harold Ramis of his generation -- even his message is the same (at least the message that old Suck piece quite accurately attributes to Ramis, in my opinion): "learn to grow up." (Incidentally, you might find it fun to read the letters page on that old Ramis article, too.) This is a deeply suburban message. But as you note, that's Apatow's milieu. Just as I don't expect every mob movie to feature a come-uppance, I don't expect every suburb-set movie to feature a come-uppance, either.

Now I do not think that Apatow makes his case convincingly -- the "growing up" comes a little too easy, the abortion issue is never really addressed, and we never get to see the real consequences after the baby arrives -- but I actually would have to agree with most of Wilonsky's last pargraph. I do believe Apatow is sincere about parents staying together for the sake of the children and the enjoyability of a little pot (though the pot thing may be more a part of Seth Rogen's belief system than Apatow's). And I think what people have responded to is Apatow's genial (read: not too pushy) manner of presenting his opinions. And even though I'm not swayed by Apatow's message I can certainly recognize how effectively his film seems to have communicated it.

Knocked Up and 40 Year Old are conservative films that have done very well among liberal filmgoers -- that makes them notable, even if it happens to be in a bothersome way for some. And while I did not think either was a great film, I'd like to think that a film's greatness is not simply positively correlated to the liberality (is that a word?) of its politics, and that it is possible to recognize value in a disagreeable film.

Anon

Ryan B. said...

Anon- Thank you. I think you more successfully articulate what I was trying to get across when you say, "I'd like to think that a film's greatness is not simply positively correlated to the liberality of its politics." Though I stand firm in my assertion that the film is not an unmitigated celebration but a negotiation of suburban American concerns (and therefore interesting). I also think it's pretty damn funny. Oh, and I really didn't care for Old School. Amazing how a funny movie can be so polarizing.

Zach- Now I'm concerned about how you will respond to The Wire...

Zach Campbell said...

Hold the phones, guys--I'm not saying that a film's quality is necessarily correlative to its "liberality" or anything like this.

In fact I have here and elsewhere advocated some right-wing cinema--I think John Milius is an excellent director, for instance.

Is one no longer allowed to express misgivings toward a film's political significance or resonance without being characterized as something like a crude cryptostalinist in favor of "political correctness"? I hope not! I'm not arguing that Knocked Up is a mediocre film because I think it's conservative (and because I think it's more fundamentally an apologia for consumerist suburbia)--I think it's a mediocre film that is also these things, things which are unsavory to me because of my political sympathies, sure, but aren't directly correlative to my estimation of the film's quality. (Indirect relationships perhaps? Sure. But one can draw indirect relationships between a lot of things...)

But before we go any further I want to be clear on this point.

I'm still not sure what the film's profundities are. I get that people who love it think it's hilarious. I can see why someone would think it's hilarious even though I didn't have that reaction. (Yes, I did laugh. It wasn't assertively unfunny. I didn't sit through the entire running time with a scowl on my face. But nothing .) But people are saying this film also expresses impressive meanings about the way we live now, negotations of contemporary suburban life & love, etc.--and I'm still not sure what any of these references are actually referring to. I asked over at Girish's place, but the answer I got was along the lines of, 'Don't expect what you expect, it's not Contempt, for the genre of film it is I thought it said a lot of profound things about being in a relationship.' Which, of course, was a total non-answer: a reformulation of the very sentiment I was asking clarifaction of ...

I still don't see anything special about the bouncer scene. It seems routine to me. (Not bad, not awful, not evil--routine.) So the guy's speech is honest about the way a hip nightclub works (in terms of admissions). And ... ?

As for The Wire, Ryan, who knows, maybe I'll like it, or love it, or be blase towards it. But I'm giving it a shot (eventually). Have we really ever been able to get a bead on how to resonably predict one another's tastes based on our own?

Ryan B. said...

Yes.

anon said...

Zach,

I hope not! I'm not arguing that Knocked Up is a mediocre film because I think it's conservative (and because I think it's more fundamentally an apologia for consumerist suburbia)--I think it's a mediocre film that is also these things...

I thought this was probably the case -- It's not like this is the first time I'm visiting your blog -- but I felt your post did not make the distinction sufficiently clear.

I'm still not sure what the film's profundities are.

I should say up front that I also do not think Knocked Up contains many profundities. But insofar as it says anything interesting about contemporary suburban love and marriage, I believe that is all in the Pete/Debbie relationship:

Knocked Up suggests that men can feel unworthy of love (ordinarily something associated with female characters) while also admitting that men have many outlets by which the net effect of this feeling is to do damage to the women in their lives -- surely the most devastating line of the movie comes from Leslie Mann's Debbie to Paul Rudd's Pete:

"You think because you don't yell, you're not mean. This is mean."

Pete is mean. He's a cool, hip guy who loves his kids, and he never ever yells, but he's mean to his wife. While the movie definitely undermines Debbie in cheap ways ("You criticize [men] so much, they get down on themselves, and then they're forced to change!"), I believe the fantasy baseball sequence belongs to her. Paul has failed her because he has treated their marriage as a checklist of activities, not as a commitment. And I believe the movie (and Pete, explicitly) acknowledge this.

At the same time, it is also indicated that Pete and Debbie married because she got pregnant -- I forget if this is stated directly or obliquely, and I know that their daughter's age doesn't quite work out right, but I'm sure the suggestion is in there -- and hence in both the Pete/Debbie storyline and the Ben/Alison storyline Knocked Up endorses the notion that people should stay in bad marriages for the sake of the children.

I mean, consider the Pete/Debbie storyline in tandem with the Ben/Alison storyline: Ben undergoes this convenient montage based transformation near the end, getting a job, an apartment, and a sense of purpose in the course of a few minutes. This is supposed to be the transformation that makes all the difference. But isn't Pete and Debbie's marriage the flash-forward version of the Ben/Alison scenario? A suburban, well-to-do couple who stayed together for the kids and who are now so alienated from each other that the husband prefers to go to the movies alone. That seems to be the best case scenario. And again, in this particular context the film sides with Debbie -- if I recall correctly Ben and Pete (the cool guys in the film) both agree that Debbie truly loves Pete (she didn't just marry him to have him as a father) and that Pete is pathetic for not being able to accept that love. Admittedly, I think Ben and Pete are high on shrooms at the time, but still.

This is why the slight to Heigl's Alison bothers me so much. The least believable line in the movie is Alison's "I love you" to Ben, and I think even Alison admits to Debbie later in the film that she wasn't completely sincere when she said it. In this way Alison's situation is different from Debbie's (Debbie loves and loved Pete), and so I want to know why does she stick with Ben? Given the course of the movie -- plenty of smart stuff has already been written about the disjointed and unconvincing "shmasmortion" scenes -- I can only come up with the argument that she sticks with him because the responsibility to provide two parents for her child trumps any notion of loving the father of her baby. In fact, doesn't Ben seems to "win" Alison at the end by displaying managerial competence -- wrangling the doctor, Debbie, and his own friends -- as opposed to displaying he loves her? (There's no Lloyd Dobler moment in Knocked Up.)

Now I know I'm overreaching above, and it's been a while since I saw the film, but I think these are the aspects of the film that people are referring to when they call Knocked Up "profound" or "insightful." For my part, I would say that Knocked Up does encapsulate a world-view about contemporary suburbia, and the question is whether or not that view is actually "profound". (I lean towards no.)

As is so often the case, my wife put it best: Knocked Up should have been a horror movie with Alison at its center. The fact that it is not such a movie -- despite the leading title and the posters ("What if this guy got you pregnant?" a great horror tagline if ever there was one) is of aesthetic and political consequence. And though I don't think the movie addresses those consequences convincingly, it would be wrong to suggest that the film doesn't acknowledge them at all.

Now from the comedy perspective, as far as I'm concerned the movie belongs to Kristen Wiig and the significantly underutilized Jason Segel. But this post is already too long.

Anon

Noel Vera said...

Eh. Zach, not being white, this spoke to me even less. I can appreciate the entertainment value of impregnating a fantasy figure, and forcing her to love you because the script doesn't really present her with anyone else, but that pretty much left a bad taste in my mouth--that this Apatow dude (What is it with that word? It's supposed to be funny?) pretty much stranded Heigl in a thankless, one-dimensional role. Snore.

Zach Campbell said...

Ryan--if that's the case, why didn't you warn me away from this one, bud?

Anon--thanks, that's a start. Now if the film's bigger defenders would follow suit (or point to pieces that already have--I haven't read every review of Knocked Up). Agreed about Wiig and Segel, in fact that latter's attraction to Mann (and the 'milk' in Heigl's breasts) was one of the funniest and most interesting running gags in the film ...

Greg said...

Zach, I have one question regarding your review of "Knocked Up." What's your beef with Starbucks?

Ryan B. said...

Quite a good dialogue up in here. One last thing though: Most of the criticism of the film that I have heard has hinged on the wish-fulfillment element. Would we be looking at a completely different film if Katherine Heigl wasn't so darn good-looking? Or if her job was a little less glamorous? Or, and I do think this would make for a COMPLETELY different film, if the film's milieu was changed. What if instead of suburban Los Angeles the film was set in urban Detroit or rural Georgia? I know, I know. Those aren't the film we saw. But I do find it interesting the degree to which Heigl's looks and the class environment have guided our responses here.

Zach- Sorry. You threw me a curveball here. I will unerringly and unfailingly predict your tastes in the future. Don't go see Transformers.

Zach Campbell said...

Greg, I have no particular beef with Starbucks. But it is an omnipresent eyesore and they overcharge for coffee (among other things) that really isn't very impressive, and I don't think their business practices are as eco- and labor-friendly as they might have some of their customers believe ...

Ryan, you're way off again--Transformers is a subversive masterpiece! It goes, #1, The Passion of Joan of Arc, and #2, Transformers. You owe me a beer.

Zach Campbell said...

Oh, and re: Katherine Heigl. Personally I don't find her especially attractive. She hits all the right buttons for culturally determined blonde hotness, obviously, but for me there's zero chemistry. (She's just like Estella Warren in this regard.)

Changing the setting though wouldn't necessitate a class change--put her as any kind of up-and-coming professional in any kind of setting, and there'd be that basic problem of her can-do-ism versus Rogen's slackerdom. Now if the film were set in rural Georgia ... and she were a gas station attendant, there'd be a different dynamic. It'd be just hotness versus not-hotness. But the film does present class, and the notions of tax bracket mobility and financial stability, into the equation ... of course it's going to color all of our perceptions, right?

anon said...

ryan b.,

Would we be looking at a completely different film if Katherine Heigl wasn't so darn good-looking? Or if her job was a little less glamorous?

It seems like the Alison character was meant to be good looking -- that's the main reason she's out of Ben's league -- but that doesn't mean the movie had to be a wish-fulfillment fantasy. And, as a I note, only in the wish-fulfillment world is the key dramatic issue Ben's ability to "grow up" as opposed to Alison's ability to cope with being a single, unwed mother with an insecure job. Recall that her job at the start of the movie is as a lowly PA, living in her sister's guest house. The movie never lets Alison directly express fears about losing her promotion to on-air talent (with its associated salary bump, I assume). She just ignores the issue and then, magically, it goes away. I was as shocked as Kristen Wiig's Jill when that happened so conveniently.

And since Zach agrees with me about Segel, let me just say -- what a wasted opportunity. Not only is Segel funny, but when you think about he's actually pretty damn responsible. Who gives Ben a firm date for the launch of the web site? Who has the presence of mind to go back to turn off the gas after the earthquake? Who's the only one of Ben's friends who doesn't freak out at the hospital? Sure, Jason's comments about Alison's pregnancy are creepy, but I thought the movie was coy about whether he had a weird fetish or if he simply wasn't phased by the possibility of dating a pregnant woman (or an older woman, or a mother). Wouldn't a guy like that have some useful advice to share with Ben? Heck, wouldn't a guy like that have some interesting things to say to Pete?

Anon

Noel Vera said...

No, personally I don't find Heigl particularly hot here. If she had a real character to play, maybe.

Starbucks? Coffee's too burnt. Fairly good bathrooms though.

vadim said...

I still don't see anything special about the bouncer scene. It seems routine to me. (Not bad, not awful, not evil--routine.) So the guy's speech is honest about the way a hip nightclub works (in terms of admissions). And ... ?

Just want to address this, because it's the best scene of the movie. You say "And... ?" like this is some minor event. What are nightclub scenes in mainstream comedies? Jokes about ogling women, drunk hook-ups, an excuse to throw in something for the soundtrack - all propelled by a lot of unexamined assumptions about what it costs to get in, who's running the place, whether this is someplace the characters should be. Personally I can't stand those places, but they seem to be an increasingly popular venue in mainstream romcoms et al. I'm glad Apatow took the time to tear into them a bit.

I'm with you on the movie though; shrugging approval is all I got.

Greg said...

Another thing, Zach, it is the oddest connection; but, this talk about the woman trying to get into the night club reminds me of an article I read about the beginnings of renewed interest in the field of cold fusion. Here's a quote:


Hagelstein describes the mainstream scientific community as "mafias" that promote and publish their friends' work, unwilling to accept new ideas. "From time to time there will be wild claims that will be wrong," he says. "Let's accept that, instead of destroying the careers of the folks who either say such things or work on such things. This is a normal part of the process, too."


The article is long, but quite fascinating.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54964-2004Nov16_3.html

Zach Campbell said...

Vadim, you wrote:

What are nightclub scenes in mainstream comedies? Jokes about ogling women, drunk hook-ups, an excuse to throw in something for the soundtrack - all propelled by a lot of unexamined assumptions about what it costs to get in, who's running the place, whether this is someplace the characters should be. Personally I can't stand those places, but they seem to be an increasingly popular venue in mainstream romcoms et al. I'm glad Apatow took the time to tear into them a bit.

I've given this a little thought over the past couple days, and I can't think of many nightclub scenes in mainstream comedies (of the past, say, five years?) one way or another. Probably because I haven't seen very many. But Apatow himself "tore into" a trope he himself used in 40-Year-Old Virgin, didn't he?

Noel Vera said...

Hi, Zach, looking this tussle over prior to posting my article on the subject. On sensitive bouncers, I submit that Ving Rhames in Striptease (an interesting movie with a talentless black hole in its center) was a far more interesting and substantial security guard.

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