Pregnancy and Character Revelation Movie Reviews
When it comes to movies based on accidental conception, nothing is more refreshing than watching characters work out a balance between school or work and their unplanned family, all while enjoying the comedy that most of these films bring to the big screen.
As you may recall, most unplanned pregnancy movies hit the box office and do not give the characters much of an option but to find that equilibrium. Here, we will take a look at three of the most laugh-inducing unplanned pregnancy comedies from the 2000s .
Juno: A Little Movie with Big Potential
When you think unplanned parenthood, you cannot forget “Juno,” the little movie that became a huge success without even trying. This noticeably cheap film came out of left field, fast and hard, capturing the hearts of adolescent moviegoers, all while receiving several Academy Award nominations.
In the starring role, Ellen Page plays Juno, a teenager who gets unintentionally pregnant but chooses to not run from her mistake. Juno is charmingly original, comedic and real. Juno’s best friend Leah, played by Olivia Thirlby, delightfully serves as a constant reminder of teenage naivety. Finally, Michael Cera’s Paulie Bleeker character shines as Juno’s counterpoint. He is the adorable, quiet-mannered nerd who impregnates the not-so-quiet, Juno.
Inasmuch as we have all been or will be teenagers in our lives, Juno’s nonchalant behavior towards the serious situations she gets herself into feels strangely familiar. Juno’s sense of humor seems to be her best weapon against stress, and her dryness and sarcasm keeps the laughs coming. Though promoted as a comedy, the film offers a deeper message that could cause one of those abortion-based riots via passive-aggressive Facebook articles.
On the abortion issue, the filmmakers took the easy way out, as though it was an obligation to the film instead of a matter of plot. Perhaps, “Juno” is a pro-life film. After all, it certainly renders the process of abortion unthinkable, thanks to her classmate-protester’s comments about babies already having fingernails in the mother’s womb.
Juno struggles to make decisions for her and her child’s future. Our poor Juno, thrown right into the dramatic life of adulthood, gains perspective on life and, more importantly, learns who she is.
In the end, however, Juno is still just a teenager who listens to The Stooges and communicates on a hamburger-shaped telephone. Fortunately, she stomached her “mess” with great maturity and comedic wit. Juno’s façade as tough, quick-witted and confident prompted a clichéd revelation of her being soft, sentimental and scared on the inside as “Juno” came to a close. The film is ultimately a conventional movie, nominated many times but generally overlooked.
Knocked Up: Impending Adulthood and Accidental Romance
Ben Stone has to grow up quickly in the name of his unplanned parenthood. The movie “Knocked Up” answers the popular question: How long does it typically take to fall in love? Some say days, but Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) and Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) will tell you it only takes nine months.
Filmmaker Judd Apatow’s “Knocked Up” is a hysterically frank treatment of unplanned pregnancy and adulthood with doses of sentiment and honesty that counteract the comedy.
Seth Rogen plays Stone, a frizzy-headed slacker who wastes the majority of his time with his stoner friends. In stark contrast, Katherine Heigl plays Alison Scott, a television production assistant who is all poise and no play.
With very little charm and a load of alcohol, Ben manages to score Alison, who is well out of his league. However, their one-night-stand has catastrophic results.
Alison finds herself with morning sickness and a baby on the way. She wants to keep the baby and contacts Ben, who is terrified, hardly more than a baby himself. Both reluctantly agree to stay together for the pregnancy in hopes to grow up and grow together before the baby arrives. “Knocked Up” follows every step of the pregnancy without skipping on the gynecological details. As the baby develops, so does Ben and Alison’s relationship.
Of course, this yields great gags and comedy. However, the film is a delight. It is funny, smart, charming and shockingly moving.
As the film progresses, the pro-life or pro-choice debate never materializes. In fact, the only question for Alison is whether she should keep the relationship.
Just because they are being responsible as parents, does that make the couple right for one another?
In an age when more professionals put off having children until their careers are established, “Knocked Up” presents a refreshing alternative. The future parents, barely beyond childhood themselves, make a romantic wager on their future love for one another. Apatow pulls off the trick of making the audience feel protective and partial towards these characters and this new relationship. The warm moments of valuing family and life while accepting responsibility counteract the sexual content and good laughs.
Baby Mama: A Predictable Plot Getting by on its Strong Performers
Much like Angie Ostrowiski (Amy Poehler)’s Dr. Pepper addiction, “Baby Mama” is far from being good for you. The film conforms to many romantic comedy clichés yet is shockingly enjoyable thanks to the chemistry between the two main characters Angie, played by Amy Poehler, and Kate, played by Tina Fey.
Kate is an uptight, career-focused woman who feels a need for a baby in her life though she is infertile. Kate decides her only option is to find a surrogate mother. With the help of a snooty surrogacy agency, Kate gets the not-so-reproductively-challenged trailer-park queen, Angie.
Their differences are evident upon their first meeting. When a fall out with Angie’s common-law husband, Carl, leaves Angie homeless, she moves in with Kate. As roommates, these two characters make Tom and Jerry seem like peas in a pod. The film derives its laughs from the clash of lifestyles between Angie and Kate. While Kate prepares for motherhood and sips wine, Angie smokes, sings karaoke and inhales Tastykakes.
While Fey is brilliant, Poehler steals every scene with perfect comedic timing paired with witty, trashy dialogue. Alone, both Fey and Poehler are too stereotypical, but when the two are together, they mesh so well, showing exactly what years of working together can do in a film.
Adding some testosterone to the mix, Greg Kinnear plays Rob, a single dad, and owner of a struggling smoothie store. Dax Shepard plays Carl, who is more interested in trying to win radio call-in contests than he is in Angie’s well-being. Both men refuse to upstage their female counterparts, grounding the film into an undercurrent of sadness.
Steve Martin, as Kate’s boss, Barry, delivers pointless lines, leaving him a target to be laughed at and not laughed with.
The script, however, reaches beyond the typical, generic, female-based comedy, and is worth watching.
Motherhood is a trend in Hollywood nowadays. While maternal instincts have made a comeback, traditional views of parenting have not. Female characters find support outside of the bonds of marriage in raising their children. With Fey and Poehler, Ellen Page and Katherine Heigl taking the reigns, these films go from second-rate to influential, taking the viewer on an emotional journey about discovering oneself.