The great irony of Katherine Heigl getting quoted saying she was annoyed that all the women in Knocked Up were portrayed as "humorless and uptight" is that she did it in the magazine that last year gave Chris Hitchens a platform for arguing that all women were humorless and uptight. (Hey females, you know what's funny?? When you complain about how no one thinks you're funny!!!) Okay, seriously though, now Juno comes along, and it's supposed to be this awesome feminist response to Knocked Up, the only problem is that the dialogue is just a little bit too funny. Not realistic enough! Too caught up in its own cleverness! And then today, we get, only because we've been waiting too long for someone else to weigh in on this subject, a deconstruction of the two back-to-back scenes that define the gender tension of Knocked Up: the part where the dudes go to Vegas and do mushrooms, and the part where the girls go out and get negged from the very club Heigl met the father of her very large fetus, with the bouncer's memorable line "I mean you're too old for this club, not...for the Earth."
Then they sit on the sidewalk and sulk and talk about how unfair it is that the dudes still get to have fun when they don't and the subtext is, of course, that it's impossible to enjoy life when you're consumed with the unfairness of how little you're enjoying it, just like it's hard to be funny when you're busy being pissed that someone else always gets to be the "funny one."
It's a moving scene, because Apatow doesn't rush to paper over the truth, or to imply that what Debbie says isn't the case...But the scene has none of the zany ingenuity of Pete and Ben's scene and lacks the verbal dexterity that peppers women's dialogue in screwball comedies.
Ok, on one hand, it's kind of important to point out that most of the "zany ingenuity" was ad-libbing, and Leslie Mann and Katherine Heigl couldn't compete with Paul Rudd and Seth Rogens' years spent riffing off one another, and really, which pair of female actors could, and that's just sort of the problem. And then there's the fact that Heigl is pregnant for the whole movie, which means she's sober for the whole movie, in stark contrast to pretty much every single dude, because the movie was made before we found out that it was okay for pregnant moms to binge drink once in awhile during the third trimester! (Bonus activity: rewrite that scene so that it portrays the women as having better senses of humor and probably doesn't result in fetal alcohol syndrome! You know, and even if it does, the baby already, as Leslie Mann's character pointed out ealier, has fat kid genes thanks to Rogen...)
If, as Heigl delicately put it, the movie is a "little sexist," that is because it is the natural product of a culture evidently sold on the notion that women are so focused on domestic mechanics that they simply don't know how to allow themselves the playful inner lives men do, whether they're free-associating brilliantly with their friends, or lazily absorbed in video games.
Um, this is a notion? You mean, the world is actually full of thirtysomething women who do sit around playing videogames stoned and freestyle rapping and riffing on the same pointless pun while laughing hysterically for hours and hours on end? Where are these women? I'd love to hang out with them. But not for too long! Maybe it's just cultural programming but even I've got more important shit to do.
P.S. The women on 30 Rock don't get to be as funny as the men, either. Somehow I don't really think about that a lot while I'm watching it!
What Katherine Heigl Said About 'Knocked Up' [Slate]