The new movie Knocked Up— about a woman (Katherine Heigl) who gets pregnant after a one-night stand and decides to have the baby (click "play" on the video player above to see an outtake) — is getting some stellar reviews. The NY Times says it just may be "an instant classic". The Chicago Tribune gave it 3 1/2 stars, adding, "its gross-out charms prevail". USA Today's take: "A perfectly tuned romantic comedy". And the Washington Post? According to the paper's Ann Hornaday's strangely-short film review (231 words) the flick is "... not just rude, crude and outrageously funny but a deceptively sophisticated meditation on moral agency — with pot jokes!" And then... well, then there's Slate's Dana Stevens. Stevens, it seems, doesn't think that writer-director Judd Apatow writes women very well. But really, what male writer-director does? Except Almodovar? (And he's gay! We knew the gays understood us better!)
Stevens is also perplexed as to "what motivates" Katherine Heigl's character Alison "to have drunken sex with... an unemployed schlub who lives in the Valley with four Neanderthal buddies," adding, "this is not a sociologically credible hookup." Uh, having been there (and with a pregnancy scare to boot!) we beg to differ! However, Stevens does make a good point when she calls out the fact that at no place in the film does Katherine Heigl's "successful, self-possessed, and officially hot" character ever discuss the possibility of aborting the embryo given to her by the aforementioned schlub. [Update: A person who would know tells us that Stevens is incorrect and that Growing Pains' Joanna Kerns, who plays Heigl's mom, tells her daughter to get an abortion. -Ed.]
Allow me to briefly divagate here on the nonexistence of abortion as an option in Knocked Up. This omission smells of the focus group, and it's a disappointment in a movie that otherwise prides itself on its unsentimental honesty about the realities of unplanned parenthood. It's just not believable that, in Alison and Ben's upper-middle-class, secular L.A. milieu, abortion would not be matter-of-factly discussed as a possibility in the case of a pregnancy this accidental. If she doesn't want one, great—obviously, there'd be no movie if she did—but let's hear about why not. Otherwise, her character becomes a cipher, a foil for Ben's epiphanies about growing up, without being allowed any epiphanies of her own. The biggest unanswered question about Heigl's character is one the movie never tiptoes near—why does she decide to keep the baby?
Having not yet seen the film, we'd like to hazard a few guesses on Stevens' behalf.
1. Babies are the new accessories! Plus: Shopping at Baby Gap!
2. She wants to show the world how fast she can lose the baby weight!
3. She's just too fucking old not to!