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Tilting at Windmills

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June 5, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

KNOCKED UP....I saw Knocked Up yesterday. I wouldn't normally bother mentioning this, but because it's gotten so many enthusiastic reviews I want to add mine to the pile: It was quite possibly the worst movie I've seen in the past year. Or three. I almost walked out halfway through out of sheer boredom.

The dialog is leaden. The plot was phoned in. There is not a single engaging character in the entire cast. Seth Rogen is almost completely charmless. There are no jokes worth more than a slightly upturned lip. We are expected to believe that Katherine Heigl has trouble getting a date. The supposed anguish of the characters is vapid and platitudinous. And aside from a change in the tempo of the music at the end, there is no genuine reason to believe that any of them has actually changed in any serious way.

So, um, I guess that's a thumbs down from a married, childless, 48-year-old grump. Just thought I'd share in case there are other people out there like me.

Kevin Drum 2:47 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (116)

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So, um, I guess that's a thumbs down from a married, childless, 48-year-old grump. Just thought I'd share in case there are other people out there like me.

Your politics are starting to make sense.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 5, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

I have the same reaction to most movies that receive near universal critical acclaim (Borat, School of Rock). The only thing I can suggest is that MSM critics are rendered clinically brain dead after viewing too many horrible hollywood movies and will grasp at anything that appears to be a breath of fresh air.

Don't Believe The Hype!

Posted by: Martin on June 5, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

people still go see movies in theaters?

Posted by: gorillagogo on June 5, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Well, de gustibus non disputandum and all that, but I would like to take issue with this: ...at the end, there is no genuine reason to believe that any of them has actually changed in any serious way. Well, so what? Since when is it required, for a movie to be successful, that the characters change in a meaningful way? Does Charles Foster Kane change in any meaningful way? Indiana Jones? Did any of the Marx Brothers' characters ever change in any meaningful way? Heck, when was the last time in real life that anybody you knew, or any public figure, changed in a meaningful way?

Posted by: OhioBoy on June 5, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Uh oh.

I thought Borat should have been called Boring and watched most of it in FF 1.4X.


And 40-Year Old Virgin was also over-rated.

I can add a bunch of others which received critical/popular acclaim but left me scratching my head:

Wedding Crashers

Something About Mary

The Aristocrats

Me, You and Everyone We Know (obscure but lauded to the hills and maybe the most irritating movie I've seen in years...)

So I suspect I will fall into the same camp although once again I'll dutifully put it on "the list" and hold my breath.

Posted by: JR on June 5, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Reviews like this make me happy. Thanks for the inoculation; I'll save my pennies for some other romantic comedy, like The Bourne Ultimatum.

Posted by: Waveflux on June 5, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't seen it yet, but at a very high 92% "fresh" rating on the Rotten Tomatoes highly scientific Tomatometer, that qualifies you, Kevin Drum, as a cinema contrarian. Congratulations!

For further information on this time-honored critical tradition, check out Jim Emerson of Sun Time's great blog for his "Do the Contrarian" posts and the ensuing blogathon. (I tried to post a link here, but no luck!)

Posted by: Bob on June 5, 2007 at 2:59 PM | PERMALINK

I could have written this review and I haven't even seen the movie. It only takes about three seconds of a preview to spot this sort of movie: pretty-ugly girl, guy that learns lesson, upbeat ending.

And I'm barely half Kevin's age. So there.

Posted by: Urkel on June 5, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

Based on your track record of movie reviews on this site, I think this is the strongest endorsement of the movie I've read.

I agree with your politics, but your taste in film is basically awful. We all have different tastes of course, yours just happen to be wrong. ;-)

Posted by: IMU on June 5, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

CNP: I wasn't ecstatic over 40-YOV, but I thought it was OK.

But, yeah, I get the whole age thing. That's why I mentioned it at the end. The thing is, I like Hollywood movies even though most of them are pitched at a much younger demographic. And if Knocked Up had just been a yawn, it wouldn't have surprised me. But even using a bar that low, I just saw nothing appealing in the movie at all.

I guess I really am getting old. Or grumpier. Or the movies are getting dumber. Or all three.

Posted by: Kevin Drum on June 5, 2007 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

You had to actually go suffer through the movie to figure all that out? I came to the same conclusion after the second advertisement for the sad excuse for entertainment.

Posted by: Rick B on June 5, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, Kev. I saw it with my wife and one daughter, and we laughed our asses off through just about the entire movie.

Posted by: Beerwulf on June 5, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Does Charles Foster Kane change in any meaningful way?

Ummm...yeah. He dies.

Posted by: greg on June 5, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

Instead I rented "Blood Diamond."

Outstanding movie, and it turns out that Leonard DiCaprio is NOT over rated.

Posted by: Rick B on June 5, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

I have to disagree with JR about Wedding Crashers and Something About Mary. I thought they were both pretty good.

My nominee for a critically acclaimed movie that sucked is American Beauty. I've found Kevin Spacey unbearable ever since seeing that piece of pretentious rubbish.

Posted by: Jim W on June 5, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Ohio: Yes, that's true to some extent, but in this movie we're supposed to believe that at least some of the characters have indeed changed. However, it's completely unconvincing.

And one other meta-thing: does every movie ever made about a woman having a child have to start up a round of "abortion in Hollywood" whining? Jesus. There's no goddam movie if she doesn't have the baby! Can we at least agree on that?

Posted by: Kevin Drum on June 5, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

The movie trailer (not to mention the premise) looked idiotic on its face, and all the glowing reviews that it has received made me begin to think that it was simply being marketing badly.

Guess not.

Posted by: Disputo on June 5, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

OhioBoy,

Kane started out as a principled idealist, ended up unloved, unloving and bitter.

Indy saw the light. Literally.

I'm pretty sure Harpo died in a bar fight in one of the later movies.

Posted by: Matt on June 5, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Watched Idiotocracy a while back on On Demand. Not that great a movie, but as a fifty something married childless grump I find myself thinking about it every time I see one of the hot new comedies.

Posted by: fafner1 on June 5, 2007 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

This brings up a point I've been noodling.

You know what I'd like to see studied? Whether one's expectations regarding a movie are a key factor in determining how one reacts to it.

I don't know how many times I've been very disappointed in highly touted movies, and had a pleasant experience when viewing a movie considered mediocre or outright bad.

I find it hard to believe that this is entirely due to the independence of my judgment. I have instead come to surmise that how my expectations have been set beforehand greatly influences my judgment of the movie afterwards.

Posted by: frankly0 on June 5, 2007 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

In more interesting news, Scooter just got 30 months and a $250K fine. Yeah, baybee.

Sadly, Judge Walton hasn't decided whether or not to leave I. Lewis free on appeal. He better not!

Posted by: shortstop on June 5, 2007 at 3:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, as pointed out above, if you had kids, you would support Bush! Scary brown people and gays threaten everything! And racking up huge debt is good for kids!

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on June 5, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

KD: I guess I really am getting old. Or grumpier. Or the movies are getting dumber. Or all three.

I vote for all 3. At 58 I'm older and grumpier but the movies are just as f*cking dumb.

Posted by: thersites on June 5, 2007 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

It was a funny movie - no lasting social redeeming value, not as good as 40 year old virgin. Still, a good film.

You ARE old, Kevin...

Posted by: JC on June 5, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

I watched Pan's Labyrinth the other night, and I would say that one is worthy of the praise. Totally different type of movie, but anyway.

Posted by: haha on June 5, 2007 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

I have to disagree with JR about Wedding Crashers and Something About Mary. I thought they were both pretty good.

Thought There's Something About Mary was possibly the most annoying movie ever made. I agree with JR on every movie on his list except for Wedding Crashers. Yeah, I know Owen's a one-trick pony and needs a new schtick, but he's so damn cute while he's doing it.

Posted by: shortstop on June 5, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah? Well Pirates of the Carribean 3 was a cinematic masterpiece, I tell ya! It even had that guy from the Rolling Stones in it! Gawd I love American Cinema! Truly the pinnacle of modern culture!

Posted by: osama_been_forgotten on June 5, 2007 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

...the supposed anguish of the characters is vapid and platitudinous.

Hmmm...Someone who uses the words 'vapid' and 'platitudinous' prolly isn't the target audience for this comedy...So what do you find funny, Kev? The cartoons in The New Yorker?

I thought it was a pretty good comedy (40 Year-Old Virgin was better) that made the audience think a little and laugh more. Different strokes, I guess.

Posted by: grape_crush on June 5, 2007 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

I loved the new Scooter Libby comedy, Banged Up.

Posted by: Roger Ailes on June 5, 2007 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Grumpier would be my diagnosis of your reaction.

I'm 62 and I thought it was hilarious.

Of course, I have four adult children and six grandchildren.

Posted by: NewMexiKen on June 5, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm...I have a different take on this: younger generations will laugh at just about anything. (I think it smacks of desperation.)

Witness the teens and twentysomethings who giggle when watching reruns of the execrable Friends, for example.

Yup. The young pups just cain't produce the good comedy like the old guys.

Posted by: JM on June 5, 2007 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Or, to rhyme with the thread title, Locked Up.

Posted by: shortstop on June 5, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, NewMexiKen demolishes my theory.

Posted by: JM on June 5, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

If you can watch CSPAN3 right now, do so. Pat Leahy is about to make Bradley Schlozman cry.

Posted by: shortstop on June 5, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

F*ck Yes KD. My faith in you has been restored.
Even Tom Lykus is right on this one.
What the hell is wrong with America when this lame sh%t is considered golden.

Posted by: Marlon Banjo on June 5, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

JM,

A little good natured snark.

Witness the teens and twentysomethings who giggle when watching reruns of the execrable Friends, for example.

Because we all know Happy Days and Who's The Boss are the acme of comic genius.

Sure, whatever you say!

:)

Posted by: JC on June 5, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

"The young pups just cain't produce the good comedy like the old guys."

Like that show where the fat bus driver kept threatening to beat his petite wife?

Or the show with the -- bear with me now -- talking horse?

Anthropomorphism and spousal abuse. Gold.

Posted by: Matt on June 5, 2007 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

I've always felt, Kevin, that your great talent for political analysis and insight does not extend to films. I found this film one of the funniest I have ever seen, and it is the only one I have ever attended where all of the audience was in stitches for two hours.

Posted by: bob h on June 5, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

..does every movie ever made about a woman having a child have to start up a round of "abortion in Hollywood" whining?

Apparently so. Lotsa people are desperate to link whatever their agenda item is with current events or pop culture.

Jesus. There's no goddam movie if she doesn't have the baby!

No shit...Not much tension to be exploited for comedic purposes otherwise, with Rogan and Heigel's characters parting ways after terminating the pregnancy.

The pregnancy is a plot device Apatow uses to talk about personal relationships, similar to Apatow using virginity to talk about sex in The 40 Year Old Virgin...that's all; no grand statement, no favoring a decision to keep over a decision terminate.

Posted by: grape_crush on June 5, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

I absolutely agree with your mini-review of "Knocked Up" and am dumbfounded at the popularity of this uninspired exercise in conventional/conservative ideology that's served up with such dumb-and-dumber grotesqueness and false humor. Where does this junk come from? (Errr... Kalifornia?) And why have the critics chosen this scrafulous trash as the movie of the moment that captures the cultural zeitgeist? Please! If there's a single thing to appreciate about this movie, I missed it.

Posted by: david l. on June 5, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Morgenstern of the WSJ loved the movie, and he's as critical a critic as you'll ever find. Hmmm... Usually you can trust his take.

Posted by: gab on June 5, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

bad news for Scooter--

WASHINGTON, June 5 - I. Lewis Libby Jr., once one of the most powerful men in government as Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, was sentenced today to two and a half years in prison for lying to a grand jury and F.B.I. agents who were investigating the unmasking of a C.I.A. operative during a fierce debate over the war in Iraq.
Federal Judge Reggie B. Walton also fined Mr. Libby $250,000 after declaring that there had been "overwhelming evidence" of Mr. Libby's guilt on the four counts - one each of obstruction of justice and giving false statements, and two of perjury. He was convicted on March 6.
Judge Walton did not set a date for Mr. Libby to report to prison. The judge said at first that he saw no reason for the defendant to remain free pending appeal, but he later agreed to accept briefs on that issue and rule later.
Before he was sentenced, Mr. Libby stood before the judge and expressed thanks for what he described as unfailing courtesy from the people who work in the federal courthouse. Then, in a soft, calm voice, he said, "It is, respectfully, my hope that the court will consider, along with the jury verdict, my whole life. Thank you, your honor."
The judge said he appreciated the fact that Mr. Libby had worked tirelessly for his government and country, at considerable financial sacrifice. But "we expect and demand a lot" from people in government, the judge said.
Sadly, he said, Mr. Libby "took a course that seems to be contrary to everything he's done in his life."
The sentence of 30 months was in line with what prosecutors had requested. That fact, and the judge's comment that Mr. Libby was found to have tried to thwart an "extremely serious investigation," were signals that the judge rejected any notion that the case was overblown.

Posted by: haha on June 5, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Kevin. I dig your political analysis, but your review of this film just comes off as grumpy BECAUSE you didn't like it. Not a single engaging character in the entire cast? You seem to forget that EVERYBODY loves Paul Rudd. Not a single joke worth more than an upturned lip? Can I assume that your audience was silent with you? Or are the rest of them idiots?

Posted by: Fargus on June 5, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

..over a decision to terminate.

Making the decision to always proofread should be of greater importance...

david l. on June 5, 2007 at 3:39 PM:

...uninspired exercise in conventional/conservative ideology...

Tripping on 'shrooms at a Cirque du Soliel show is 'conservative'?

This isn't a conservative or liberal movie. It's just a movie.

Posted by: grape_crush on June 5, 2007 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

You are a democrat, part of teh past. Your breed is dying out.

Knocked up is part of the new breed. THe new Republican paradim.

"Republicans are the party of Fun."
-- Ronald Reagan's daughter.

Posted by: egbert on June 5, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

the title told me all i needed to know.
saved 20 bucks

Posted by: apeman on June 5, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, okay...ouch. (I've been laughing my butt off at the two responses to my snarky criticism of the pups' comedic talents.)

Posted by: JM on June 5, 2007 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

So, um, I guess that's a thumbs down from a married, childless, 48-year-old grump. Just thought I'd share in case there are other people out there like me.

I think it is an age thing. I rarely see any new movie previews that make me want to go see them, and when I do go see them I'm usually disappointed. Pan's Labyrinth was a recent exception though. Awesome movie.

Posted by: Del Capslock on June 5, 2007 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I'm going to guess not only that you're old and don't remember any of the cultural references ... but that you didn't have any friends like the friends that the director did, and which he shows with such joy through all his movies and TV shows. You probably didn't enjoy Freaks & Geeks or Undeclared either.

I am 37, and I laughed my butt off the whole movie. Terrific stuff. I could relate to every joke and every second of the movie.

Here's the change in the characters, by the way: Rogen got a friggin job. He's officially decided it's time to stop playing Peter Pan and try to grow up. Is that going to be enough? Probably not, as the problematic marriage in the movie shows us full well. Just because they play the happy music at the end, doesn't mean that we're really supposed to buy the happily-ever-after ending. We just hope for the best that they can make it.

Posted by: Kent on June 5, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. You have an atrocious eye for good films.

Posted by: KilgoreTrout XL on June 5, 2007 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Drum,

Please forward your resume.


Sincerely,

Mickey Kaus

Endowed Chair, Slate Magazine Institute of Counterintuitive Studies

"Tu Stultus Est"

Posted by: Not the real Mickey Kaus on June 5, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

Way to go, Matt! Those shows really epitomize the older generation.

And how about those #$%&!! Beatles? "Number 9, number 9, number 9..." Who let those bozos off the plane?

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on June 5, 2007 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

I'm about the same age as Kevin, but I thought the movie was frickin' hilarious. Not as funny as the 40 Year Old Virgin, but pretty funny.

It was a profoundly stupid movie;maybe you're thinking too hard about it.

The scenes with Paul Rudd are great.

Posted by: johnny6644 on June 5, 2007 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

egbert: THe new Republican paradim.

Who needs funny movies? We got egbert.

Next up: Kevin Drum in Grump and Grumper.

Posted by: thersites on June 5, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus, guys, does this need to turn into generational warfare? We got old farts that tought the movie was funny, and some that didn't.

Posted by: thersites on June 5, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Kevin!

As soon as I saw the trailers for this ridiculous piece of male wishfulfillment, I knew it was just another forgetable "frat movie".

What they put into the Raisinettes that made so many critics think they were watching an "instant classic" (A.O. Scott from the NYT) is beyond me.

Posted by: David on June 5, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Kevin!

As soon as I saw the trailers for this ridiculous piece of male wishfulfillment, I knew it was just another forgetable "frat movie".

What they put into the Raisinettes that made so many critics think they were watching an "instant classic" (A.O. Scott from the NYT) is beyond me.

Posted by: David on June 5, 2007 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Kevin!

As soon as I saw the trailers for this ridiculous piece of male wishfulfillment, I knew it was just another forgetable "frat movie".

What they put into the Raisinettes that made so many critics think they were watching an "instant classic" (A.O. Scott from the NYT) is beyond me.

Posted by: David on June 5, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Kev-- Let's see if I get this right. You found Knocked Up leaden and boring and pointless but u found Hillary Clinton's campaign Youtube schlock "charming?" Please.

There were plenty of holes and suspended disbelief in Knocked Up but the performances of the ensemble cast sparkled and I found the dialog to be downright crackling -- about the wittiest script to come along in a very long time.

Apatow perfectly captured the ethos of slacker culture as well as the Yuppie anguish that infected the sister and brother-in-law.

I enjoyed the movie so much I went out and bought 40 Year Old Virgin last night, watched it, and liked it even more than Knocked Up.

I have to say your rant against this flick is strangely similar in tone to those who rant that the blogosphere is boring, leaden and irrelevant.

Less cat blogging -- more mixing it up with some slackers, mon.

Posted by: Marc Cooper on June 5, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

David, I'm starting to get your point, but not entirely. Could you repeat the last line?

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on June 5, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

It is a sad comment on our times that so many critics (paging A.O. Scott) were running around calling this piece of male wish-fulfillment an "instant classic."

I'm with Kevin.

Posted by: David on June 5, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry. Always crashing in the same browser, to coin a phrase ...

Posted by: David on June 5, 2007 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

There's hardly a movie made since 1975, 1970 maybe, worth talking about.

I think Susan Sontag agreed, and she liked the movies before then.

Hah! I'm even older than Kevin.

Posted by: David in NY on June 5, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus.
One review and 50 comments, and not one of them addresses the single most important question deciding whether I'll watch the movie - does Katherine Heigl look at hot, during the rest of the movie as she does during the 20 seconds of her we see in the trailer?

Posted by: Maynard Handley on June 5, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

I would definitely agree with the theory that expectations have an impact on actual enjoyment

In a follow-up to responses above, IMO "Something About Mary" did have a chuckle or two but there was just not much there at all, so the actual / hyped ratio was very low.

As for Wedding Crashers, I'm wondering if any others want to weigh in on that one. I don't want to turn the discussion into an overtly political one, but the premise of that movie seemed to me to be basically:

Suspend your disbelief and watch a couple of horny guys dupe beautiful but incredibly stupid women into believing them.

I admit that I gave up on it after about 15 minutes but was there more to it than that?

Finally, Knocked Up does look like it has potential to be another gorgeous women / average-to-dumpy guy set-up (how about Sideways for another example of that?).

Posted by: JR on June 5, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't seen "Knocked Up", but I did rather enjoy "The 40 Year Old Virgin." Nevertheless, it seems that assessing good comedy is often very tricky and very dependent on the target demographic. In your case Kevin, I have noticed that you are often non-plussed by culturally popular movies and such. Perhaps that is a function of the "48 year old grump" thing you mention. I turn 40 this year and I have noticed that a lot of movies and cultural events that would have been very amusing to me not long ago are now boring and uninteresting. For example, I no longer have the patience to watch self absorbed 20-something year olds work through their problems - and that's not to say they are bad movies, it's just not where I am. Anyway, knowing someone and enjoying them for their particular eccentricities is partly a function of knowing what things drive them nuts. It would also be interesting to hear about some movies you actually like and why you like them. Do tell.

Posted by: HungChad on June 5, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

"Republicans are the party of Fun."

Duly noted.

Posted by: Bob M on June 5, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

...does Katherine Heigl look at hot, during the rest of the movie as she does during the 20 seconds of her we see in the trailer?

Pretty amazing she's only the third-best-looking member of the Grey's cast, innit?

Posted by: Thlayli on June 5, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

For a guy who has a pretty interesting take on politics and foreign affairs your movie reviews are just so far off base its really starting to make me wonder. First you hate The Lives of Others (the best movie of 2006) and now you hate the funniest movie I've seen in years. No engaging characters - the constantly hilarious Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen not to mention the luminescent Katherine Heigl. Honestly, I cant believe we saw the same movie. Dialogue is leaden - it practically crackled. I'm really at a loss here. Help me figure this out Kevin, please post your top ten favorite movies. I cant quite figure out how someone so right about politics could be so wrong about movies.

Posted by: MC on June 5, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

Republicans are the party of Fundamentalists.

fixed that for ya

Posted by: Disputo on June 5, 2007 at 4:59 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks for an honest review. The male lead looks like a real dog.

Posted by: Rula Lenska on June 5, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

You are such a fucking downer sometimes, Kevin.

Posted by: Clint Bland on June 5, 2007 at 5:11 PM | PERMALINK

I loved, loved, loved this movie. Kevin, why do you hate America?

Posted by: Doug on June 5, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

One of Roger Ebert's Movie Glossary entries is that movie titles are bleached out to not offend folks. "Sexual Perversity in Chicago" became the movie "About Last Night"; "Cop Tips Waitress $2Mill" script treatment ended up "It Could Happen to You".

The first time I saw the ad I thought "Why can't they have euphemised that just a little? Whose heads would they be going over? Who do they have to knock (pun intended) on the head to get them to notice this movie?"

Is "Knocked Up" as clever, too clever, or not clever enough, a title as the movie deserves?

Posted by: ThresherK on June 5, 2007 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

At what point do they even hint that Heigl has problems getting dates? She seemed career-minded, and not really looking for relationship. The whole point of the one night stand was that she wasn't seeing anyone - not that she couldn't.

Honestly, it sounds like you went in wanting to dislike it. Funny how often movies meet our expectations...

Posted by: B-Somebody on June 5, 2007 at 5:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum blogging about pop culture is like Lindsay Lohan blogging about sobriety.

Neither one has the slightest frickin' idea of what they're talking about and they both make you afraid you're going to end up with puke on your floormats.

Posted by: Cazart on June 5, 2007 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

Nevertheless, it seems that assessing good comedy is often very tricky and very dependent on the target demographic.Posted by: HungChad on June 5, 2007 at 4:37 PM


I cant quite figure out how someone so right about politics could be so wrong about movies.Posted by: MC on June 5, 2007 at 4:55 PM

Comedy is in the eye of the beholder. As for my "demographic", there can be quite a contrast in my close circle of friends (mid 40's) when it comes to liking not just comedy, but movies in general. "I loved xxxxx movie, but so and so hated it." Some actors can make me laugh pretty much doing anything (like Will Ferrell -- I can't explain it). But the line between funny, and waste-of-time ridiculous is a fine one. In Something About Mary, for example, for some reason Matt Dillon's character just cracked me up, though I realize that the movie is pretty ridiculous and juvenile. So what? For me it worked -- for others -- not so. It really need be taken no further, IMO.

That is why passing any judgment on what someone does or doesn't like in a movie seems mostly pointless. Even movie reviews need be taken with a grain of salt.

Posted by: E Henry Thripshaw on June 5, 2007 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

From a 51-year-old grump.....

Judd Apatow did a superb writing job on "The Larry Sanders Show", but "The 40 Year Old Virgin" was mindnumbingly juvenile and awful.

I had no intention at all of wasting my money on "Knocked Up", which portended to be even worse.

Posted by: Randy Gold on June 5, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Thought There's Something About Mary was possibly the most annoying movie ever made. I agree with JR on every movie on his list except for Wedding Crashers. Yeah, I know Owen's a one-trick pony and needs a new schtick, but he's so damn cute while he's doing it.

Which explains why I liked TSAM (even while I hate Stiller) but hated all the rest -- Cameron Diaz.

Posted by: Disputo on June 5, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Shouldn't we know better than to try to explain why something is funny to someone who doesn't find it so?

Posted by: Sam on June 5, 2007 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Not too much more to add, but the problem with the movie seems to be that it has an incredibly childish sense of humor coated over a surprisingly poignant core. I liked some of the drug humor, but much of it was stupid. But don't overlook the fact that most of these characters ARE judging themselves, they are looking for solutions to the vast emptiness of their lives, and they actually want to do the right thing.

If I were a film critic forced to watch the 100s of awful movies where character development and reality are non-existent, I probably would overate this movie too.

If you're on the fence about the film (and can get into NY Times Select), check out this article.

Posted by: yocoolz on June 5, 2007 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

I find the entire premise of the movie offensive and sexist. Has this woman never hear of emergency contraception? One night where a condom so much as slips and my girlfriends are calling Planned Parenthood the next day - much less waiting over a month. No educated woman is that ignorant of how her own body works.

It's a reverse of the old ensnaring guys with a baby ploy - hey schlubby guy, if you want a gorgeous woman get her drunk and count on her being too stupid to use contraception of any sort.

Lisa de Moraes of the WashPost TV column calls the schlubby guy with babe wife (King of Queens, etc) syndrome Male Pattern Optimism. Now they've made a whole movie out of it.

Posted by: Bobster on June 5, 2007 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

There's hardly a movie made since 1975, 1970 maybe, worth talking about.

Hollywood keeps making the same four or five movies over and over and over again. The place has been bereft of imagination for decades.

I'm surprised Kevin actually had to go to the theater to discover what a lousy movie it it. The promo I saw on the boob toob told me that much.

Posted by: Warren Terraplane on June 5, 2007 at 7:42 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with Bobster.

Posted by: Paula on June 5, 2007 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Okay Kevin. Name your three best comic movies, and I'll tell you who you are.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on June 5, 2007 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

Okay, Kevin. Tell me your three favorite comic movies, and I'll tell you you are.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on June 5, 2007 at 8:48 PM | PERMALINK

Put me down with Bobster and Paula - I can't see the comic side of a woman going out on a first date and getting pregnant.

Posted by: Zandru on June 5, 2007 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you! Hated it. Besides everything else you mentioned, I couldn't even begin to believe that any woman would invite someone she'd only met once to come into the gynecologist's examining room with her. Stupid.

Posted by: denise on June 5, 2007 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, I'm not sure you understand what comedy is. That movie was a hoot. Maybe it was too original for you.

Posted by: chris on June 5, 2007 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, who pooped in your salad?
I LOVED "Something About Mary" and "40 Year Old Virgin", but I wasn't that impressed by "Wedding Crashers".
I guess your lives have been too successful-you just can't identify with losers.

Posted by: doug r on June 5, 2007 at 10:20 PM | PERMALINK

There was no explanation why she might have wanted to keep the baby. In real life she would have gotten an abortion--not just because the pregnancy was a total mistake and the father a total loser, but because if she works at E! she probably wants a work future--which is very difficult for a single Mom unless you're very rich.

In real life the guy would not have ever changed, at least not within nine months. In real life she would have cut him out of her life all together (if we accept the completely unexplained decision to have the baby) because he'd hang around just to borrow money from her. In real life the sister's family in the really rich and beautiful house--likely one or both of them would work really long hours, and are not always hanging around like there's no job to worry about.

But the kids, especially the little one, were absolutely adorable.

And the message was that girls are reliable and upstanding, and guys are children, not to mention gross. Otherwise the message was very conventional.

Way Way Way Way over-rated. I'll take Airplane or Tootsie any day for classic comedies.

Posted by: Amelia on June 5, 2007 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

I also figured it was a loser from the previews too.

I found out, painfully, that previews nowadays are pretty much the best parts of any movies.

So if you think the previews suck, the movie, without exception, sucks.

BTW, I thought American Beauty rocked hard. Maybe it's an age difference after all.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on June 5, 2007 at 10:47 PM | PERMALINK

Gee, humor is very subjective. The Knocked Up movie seems absolutely unappealing to me, but then I couldn't stand five minutes of Something About Mary, either, and sat through the entire Talladega Nights without once cracking even so much as a smile. Oh, I got all the jokes and references, I just didn't find them all that funny. Wedding Crashers? Only mildly amusing in a totally forgettable way, in my opinion. Even the third, vastly overbloated Pirate movie had genuine laughs in it, and that wasn't even billed as a comedy.

On the other hand, I found the dry humor of Little Miss Sunshine or The Life Aquatic to be far more entertaining.

The last movie I remember laughing hard at? Galaxy Quest.

I'm around Kevin's age, and admit to being somewhat of a curmudgeon, but not one that's entirely surrendered her sense of humor. It's just a lot more selective nowadays. I still laughed a lot at Spamalot, and always find The Daily Show to be uproarious, and just discovered the stand up of Eddie Izzard. Sadly, there's just not that much to laugh at at the movies.

Posted by: grapeshot on June 5, 2007 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

paint your wagon
father goose
the princess bride

Posted by: sameoldjeff on June 5, 2007 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

Seth Rogen totally charmless? WHAAAA? He was so totally cute! I was completely convinced that the girl would fall in love with him. Totally cute. Loved him.

32 - female - married

Posted by: Koneko on June 5, 2007 at 11:50 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't seen the movie, but perhaps you're offbase like that guy who wrote those clueless reviews in "New York" magazines for years and years (and maybe still does). And some of the reviews in "Entertainment Weekly" are wildly off-base (Ds for excellent movies, good grades for trash).

I expect it's OK fare, just like "School of Rock" was OK fare. And it probably leaves a better taste in one's mouth than the overpraised and wildly disappointing "Borat," which was nevertheless a good film, a pleasant (if unpleasant) film, etc., etc.

My capsule reviews:

Anything by Sofia Coppola: good, very slight, wildly overpraised. What they really are are small, independent films that would be better if they had tiny, miniscule budgets rather than the piles of money that were thrown at them by the producers. "Marie Antoinette" could have been purely a mood piece like "Wild Strawberries" or "A Day In the Country"

"Dreamgirls": nothing but a wall-to-wall soundtrack of the kind of wailing R&B music that makes my skin crawl. Not quite as insufferable as that terrible Dave Chappelle movie, but getting there.

"The Queen": People who say it's nothing more than an overpraised TV dramatization are right. High quality for what it is, but definitely not a towering masterpiece or cinematic achievement.

And, hey, while we're at it, flee, running and screaming, from any DVD copies of "My Dinner With Andre." Watch something of quality and worth instead, like "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure."

Posted by: Anon on June 6, 2007 at 12:09 AM | PERMALINK

I *loved* 40 year old virgin. I thought it was an incredibly fresh and clever piece of film making. That's why I was so eager to see Knocked Up. Which I thought was abysmally awful. Kevin went too easy on it. For more of my thoughts on Knocked Up, you can stop by www.othermag.org/blog.

Posted by: Charlie Anders on June 6, 2007 at 12:40 AM | PERMALINK

Same old Hollywood mismatched couples theme. Babe professional and dumpy nobody. Senator and Maid. Famous star and book store employee. There must be hundreds of them, going back to the dawn of movies. Broadway loves them too. Oooo, see the classes mingle! Makes me feel so goood!

They are sheer fantasies. No prince has ever married a pauper. No Hollywood star is ever going to give up her career for domestic bliss with a bookseller. Saying this movie tells a great truth about the mores of our times, as the Times critic did, is hogbladders.

The story it tells is escapist baloney and nothing more.

By the way, why are the women in current movies nearly always the sexual predators? How did this absurd reversal of real life come to pass? If I see one more movie where the woman makes the first move, rips the clothes off the guy and throws him into bed, I’m going to puke! I’d like a little more reality in my movies, like pigs flying and monkeys chewing tobacco.

Hollywood is utterly incapable of depicting real life—except maybe for Homer Simpson.

Posted by: jagadeesan on June 6, 2007 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

By the way, why are the women in current movies nearly always the sexual predators?

That's the current in vogue male fantasy, of course.

Posted by: Disputo on June 6, 2007 at 3:11 AM | PERMALINK

Best scenes in the movie are the where Heigel meets with her boss. The other E! executive is hilarious. Rudd was good, the five chairs bit was great, Heigel was good, the bouncer bit was good.
His stoner friends were very disappointing.
At our peak, my friends and I didn't even make it 30 days into our "homegrow/high all summer" plan. I don't know anyone who could have pulled it off for nine months.

Posted by: homegrown on June 6, 2007 at 6:10 AM | PERMALINK

Most underrated comedy ever: The Big Bus (1976)A nuclear powered bus goes non-stop from New York to Denver.

Posted by: yankinpak on June 6, 2007 at 7:09 AM | PERMALINK

Best missed-match couple movie- Beauty & The Beast. You're absolutely right on this one, Kevin. Little charm and finesse, predictable, and overrated (much like Sideways). And I really wanted to like it. Besides, it's hard to out-stoner Sean Penn.

Posted by: kreiz on June 6, 2007 at 8:06 AM | PERMALINK

If your benchmarks are The General, The Lady Eve or Groundhog Day, I can see your being let down.
Or the dark humor of Cheney's Libby letter may have spoiled you for anything lighter.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on June 6, 2007 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, if you're a childless grump, then please militate against that darn $1,000/year child tax credit that makes folks earning 30k subsidize the kids of couples earning 60k.

Posted by: !!! on June 6, 2007 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

I have to butt in about "School of Rock". I thought that was a wonderful movie. What made it wonderful to me was that Jack Black's character had passion for something other than food, beer, money and getting laid. And he managed to inspire a bunch of prep school kids to share that passion. I loved that. This is in spite of the fact that I loathe his preferred kind of music, heavy-metal, (AC-DC, Black Sabbath, etc.) But by the end, I was a little, tiny bit more of a fan. There is a documentary about an actual school of rock that is very similar, called Rock School, which I also loved.

What I hated about "School of Rock" was Sarah Silverman's character. What's the point of having a character in a comedy who is so unfunny? What's the point of getting a comedian to play such a character?

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on June 6, 2007 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Paradis says: Name your three best comic movies, and I'll tell you who you are.

There is a strange phenomenon with me and comedies: the movies that I have laughed the hardest at when I saw them the first time, very often don't even raise a smile when I see them again a few years (or a decade) later. Some movies that fall into this category: (1) Repo Man, (2) Bedazzled (the original Dudley Moore/Peter Cook version), (3) Get Smart (the TV series), (4) come to think of it, almost any comedy from the 60s.

I still enjoy some comedies that I don't necessarily laugh at much. "Groundhog Day" is one of my favorite movies of all time (and I've seen it many times), but it never made me laugh out loud.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on June 6, 2007 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

grapeshot, we should go to the movies together sometime. We are totally simpatico. (Well, except for Spamalot.)

Posted by: shortstop on June 6, 2007 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

C'mon, Hollywood movies are like opera - their time has passed. I have a hard time thinking of a Hollywood movie that beats good television -"The Office" (US version) is more entertaining and funnier than anything Hollywood puts out there, to say nothing of a real classic like "Arrested Development." If I have a choice between watching "The Wire" or "Deadwood" and yet another formulaic Hollywood movie, I'll go with TV every time.

Posted by: Vanya on June 6, 2007 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

I still enjoy some comedies that I don't necessarily laugh at much. "Groundhog Day" is one of my favorite movies of all time (and I've seen it many times), but it never made me laugh out loud.

This is a very good point that needs to be made more. For some reason a lot of people today seem to think that comedies (not just movies, but books and even comic strips too) should be measured solely by how "funny" they are, not by how well-done they are. Most people won't "get" a Preston Sturges movie these days because he was trying to make good films that used humor effectively, rather than "funny" movies. Even Monty Python and the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team were trying to make movies that worked as movies, not just random collections of gags (not counting the sketch movies they did, but even then they tried to make sure they flowed). Because of this, a lot of thoughtful humor seems to get attacked as being "unfunny", because its goal isn't to make you make ROTFLOL.

Posted by: C.L. on June 6, 2007 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

I sort of agree with Kevin. I didn't think the dialog leaden, in fact I found wildly mildly amusing. I just couldn't get past the premise: A beautiful professional and ambitious television personality who finally gets her on screen opportunity throws it away for a schlub of a guy without a dime and doesn't even consider an abortion. I live in LA...this doesn't, wouldn't happen, unless the woman was extremely moralistic, Catholic, or whatever. It wasn't as funny as Virgin, Borat, Lebowski, or Once. And it went on too long.

Posted by: Bruce on June 6, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I'd like to see just ONE movie where a Plain Jane gets the Hot Guy.

Even "Shallow Hal" cast a schlub (sp?) as the guy and a hottie as the Fat Girl (not) and in the end the schlub got the hottie.

But I know all this won't happen until a Plain Jane gets power in Hollywood, and that will NEVER happen, unless one of the guys gets a sex change operation.

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 6, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

One of my favorite comedies, tho it does drag a bit toward the end, is Used Cars.

Three lines are still in use in our family:

Rudy wanting to be a politcian because "he just wants to tell the people what they want to hear."

"Fifty bucks never killed anybody"

"These prices are TOO FUCKING HIGH!"

40-year-old virgin, OK.

Borat, screamingly funny, despite total tasteless ness. How can you not laugh at the naked fight in the mortgage banker's convention?

Something About Mary: some funny stuff, but Cameron Diaz a physician? No. Not. Not even close.

Another pet peeve is Hollywood casting female dimwits as professional women. See Darryl Hannah in Roxanne, too.

Posted by: Cal Gal on June 6, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

I liked it a lot. I know with comedy, people's tastes easily produce widely varying reactions, but still, I'm surprised to see someone say worst movie of the year. I also would ask if you liked 40-Year Old Virgin, which I thought was even better.

I don't think the filmmaker tried to portray Katherine Heigl as having trouble getting a date. Her hook-up with the Seth Rogen character was portrayed as a fluke: she was out celebrating, got drunk and went home with someone she normally wouldn't be with.

As far as the angst of the characters, I'd respond, it's a comedy! The character's feelings are laid out sketchily because of the genre. It's just a scenario to set up the jokes, many of which were hilarious!

Posted by: evan on June 6, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

yankinpak: Most underrated comedy ever: The Big Bus (1976)

I was surprised how much I laughed at that when I caught it on TV a loooong time ago. Not bad at all.

Posted by: Indee on June 6, 2007 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

Cal Gal:
(in case this thread isn't completely played out)

There's a Michael J Fox movie form the early 1980s (?) called "Teen Wolf". Our hero/cute guy has a plain-jane girl friend, lusts after a hot chick, gets her, and then decides he wants his girl friend to be his girlfriend. It's not such an unusual plot device, after all, at least in teen movies.

You know, I'd like to see just ONE movie where a Plain Jane gets the Hot Guy.

But I know all this won't happen until a Plain Jane gets power in Hollywood, and that will NEVER happen, unless one of the guys gets a sex change operation.
Posted by: Cal Gal on June 6, 2007 at 2:21 PM |

Posted by: keith on June 7, 2007 at 8:36 PM | PERMALINK

i hated this movie with tears

Posted by: stephanie on June 11, 2007 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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