The art of a society reflects the society
David Denby deconstructs Knocked Up and the entire sub-genre he calls slacker-striver romance. He considers American culture over the decades and how relationships between the sexes were depicted on screen during those different periods.
Apatow has a genius for candor that goes way beyond dirty talk-that’s why “Knocked Up” is a cultural event. But I wonder if Apatow, like his fumy youths, shouldn’t move on. It seems strange to complain of repetition when a director does something particularly well, and Apatow does the infantilism of the male bond better than anyone, but I’d be quite happy if I never saw another bong-gurgling slacker or male pack again. The society that produced the Katharine Hepburn and Carole Lombard movies has vanished; manners, in the sense of elegance, have disappeared. But manners as spiritual style are more important than ever, and Apatow has demonstrated that he knows this as well as anyone. So how can he not know that the key to making a great romantic comedy is to create heroines equal in wit to men? They don’t have to dress for dinner, but they should challenge the men intellectually and spiritually, rather than simply offering their bodies as a way of dragging the clods out of their adolescent stupor.