Month Archives: June 2007

Familial, Funny, and Filthy: A Review of Knocked Up

by Family Research Council

June 5, 2007

A recent New York Times Magazine profile of writer-director-producer Judd Apatow contained this intriguing assertion:

Both of the films Apatow has directed offer up the kind of conservative morals the Family Research Council might embrace — if the humor weren’t so filthy.

As the (unofficial) movie critic for FRC I decided to put that claim to the test by screening Apatow’s latest film. The verdict: Knocked Up offers up the kind of conservative morals the Family Research Council might embrace — if the humor weren’t so filthy.

The story centers around the relationship between Ben Stone, a schlubby unemployed stoner, who meets rising TV personality Alison Scott in a bar. After getting drunk the pair stumble into an awkward one night stand. Eight weeks later, Ben is shocked when Alison meets him and reveals that she is pregnant. Despite having little in common, the two decide that they have to at least try to make some kind of relationship work for the baby’s sake.

It’s that twist that makes Knocked Up one of the most pro-life, pro-family film I’ve seen in years — and thats including what passes for “Christian” films. Unfortunately, it is also the filthiest family-oriented film I’ve ever seen. This is a family movie that I can’t recommend for families.

Still, while the ends can’t justify the means, it is worthy wading through the crudity to examine the message being presented.

One of the most striking aspects of the film is the use of language. Throughout the film, the obscenities flow freely, yet there is one word too obscene even for these foul-mouthed characters: abortion. When Ben tells his roommates about the pregnancy his buddy Jonah suggests that Alison get a procedure that, he says, “rhymes with ‘shmashmortion’.” He’s quickly condemned as a “monster” by another roommate for even suggesting such an inhuman action.

The only other person to hint that Alison should kill the child is her horrible mother who tells her to wait till she’s ready to have a “real baby.” As Ross Douthat observes, “Knocked Up is almost naively pro-life: Of course Alison decided to ‘keep’ the baby, the script suggests, because killing it would be terribly and obviously wrong, and she’s not a bad person.”

Another old-fashioned value supported by the film is marriage. Allison’s sister Debbie (Apatow’s own remarkable wife Leslie Mann) and brother-in-law Pete (the understated Paul Rudd) got married because they got “knocked up” and…well, that’s just what people do, so the movie implies, when they find themselves with child.

As Allison and Ben attempt to reconcile their imperfections (well, Ben’s imperfections) with that ideal, Debbie and Pete reveal how the ideal isn’t always so ideal. (Apatow, Mann, and Rudd deserve praise for making this sub-plot compelling enough to be its own movie.) In fact, the character of Pete reveals the key to understanding the movie.

When Ben and Allison drunkenly stumble into bed together, he blurts an epiphanic understatement: “Youre prettier than I am.” Indeed, Allison is not only prettier, she’s smarter, and nicer, and cleaner, and…so far out of Ben’s league that it makes it nearly impossible to suspend disbelief when she confesses her love. Sure, women like losers. But unless Allison has been drained of self-respect and self-esteem, there is no way she could fall in love with such an absolute and total loser.

But a scene later in the second half of the film puts the bizarre romance in perspective. After tiffs with their women, Ben and Paul flee to Las Vegas where they binge on hallucinogenic mushrooms and watch Cirque de Soleil. In his drug-induced stupor Paul has a moment of clarity, admitting that his wife’s desire to always be in his presence scares him to death: “I don’t think I can accept pure love.”

Pure love, Apatow seems to be saying, is what comes with having a family. And we men don’t deserve it. While we may not be flat-busted, overweight, unemployed stoners, when it comes to pure love we aren’t any more worthy than Ben. We dont deserve anything so wonderful as a wife much less the miracle of a baby. So if by some stroke of fate/luck/providence we find these blessings in our life we must to do whatever it takes to keep them. We may be losers but we don’t have to be fools.

Knocked Up definitely isn’t a film I can embrace. The humor is indeed too filthy. But any film that has such a powerful pro-family message deserves at least a pat on the back.

News of the Duh twofer

by Family Research Council

June 1, 2007

First another (probably taxpayer funded) study that tells you what you should already know:

BUMPS to the head on the football field can lead to lasting brain damage, according to a landmark international study that found just three concussions triples the risk of developing depression. Australian experts said the American study of more than 2500 retired National Football League athletes was of real concern to Australia’s generation of junior football players who were more susceptible to a brain injury and were playing a more violent code.

Then an actual headline that must have been written by someone hit on the head once too often:

Next Hurricane Could Strike Anywhere From TX to NY

Thanks Sherlock.

Addendum: Life Around the World

by Family Research Council

June 1, 2007

England:

New research conducted by doctors in England shows that unborn children can face emotional stress during a pregnancy as the baby’s mother faces stress herself. Pro-life advocates say the study has implications for abortion as society learns more about the amazing development of children before birth. More . . .

Mexico:

On May 26, one day before the 30 days allowed to challenge a new law had expired; the federal Human Rights Commission and the national Attorney Generals Office asked the Mexican Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional a recently adopted law in the Federal District that legalized unrestricted abortion before the twelfth week of pregnancy. More . . .

New Zealand:

Six women who blame their mental health problems on abortions have been denied the chance to testify in court against the Abortion Supervisory Committee. More . . .

Scotland:

The leader of Scotland’s Roman Catholics says the abortion rate north of the border was equivalent to “two Dunblane massacres a day” as he stepped up his attack on pro-choice politicians. More . . .

Life in These United States 06/01/2007

by Family Research Council

June 1, 2007

Florida:

The Florida Supreme Court has paved the way for two state ballot amendments about stem cell research funding — one that forces the state government to pay for embryonic stem cell research and another that prohibits it. Now all organizers of the competing proposals have to do is get enough signatures to qualify. More . . .

Kansas:

Citing privacy issues, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius on Monday vetoed a provision requiring more medical details on late-term abortions. The action didnt surprise the author of the budget provision, Rep. Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican. Sebelius, an abortion-rights supporter, vetoed a similar measure a year ago. More . . .

Missouri:

When it comes to expressing his views of church values, Roman Catholic Archbishop Raymond Burke has a habit of making headlines. More . . .

Rhode Island:

Conflicting claims, dueling statistics and an utter lack of common ground on a polarized and intimately emotional issue marked a more than two-hour legislative hearing Wednesday on a bill to require a 24- hour waiting period before a pregnant woman can obtain an abortion. More . . .

Texas:

A divorced couple’s battle over frozen embryos is headed to the Texas Supreme Court, KPRC Local 2 reported Wednesday. Augusta and Randy Roman froze three embryos during years of infertility treatments that they went through during their marriage. More . . .

Bonus: Great op-ed by Kathryn Jean Lopez:

What’s so bad about Planned Parenthood? It’s a question Americans must wonder about as they see pro-lifers protesting or praying outside clinics. And it deserves an answer because it gets to the heart of some key and contentious questions we face as a society, one that is ever creeping toward a brave new world (in many respects already living in it) as biotechnological choices propagate. More . . .

Faith and Science in the Global Warming Debate

by Family Research Council

June 1, 2007

FRC hosted a policy discussion on global warming with panelists Dr. E. Calvin Beisner, Dr. Kenneth Chilton, Dr. Jim Ball, and Dr. Lowell Pritchard. Ball and Pritchard are associated with the Evangelical Environmental Network and advocate a strong response to human-caused climate change. Beisner is at Interfaith Stewardship Alliance. He and Chilton advocate environmental stewardship that avoids significant economic impacts on the poor, and crafted a rebuttal to EENs Urgent Call to Action on climate change.

Don Bosch of The Evangelical Ecologist live-blogged the event and had a number of interesting comments, including:

I thought the discussion was very civil, at least what I caught of it. Happy about the concensus that climate change must not be an issue that divides the Church. Debating the issue is good, and we may have different ideas about how to deal with climate change (human-caused, naturally-occurring, or some combination), but that shouldnt divide the family of God.

Click here to listen to the audio online.

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