Daily Archives: February 10, 2011

OK, I’ve watched all four

Back, ca. 2007, there was a rash of movies about “unplanned pregnancies,” each of which involved a woman making an on screen decision against abortion, and each of which prominently featured sonograms showing unborn babies. They ran the gamut in genre and approach, and each dealt with a different situation. If you can tolerate some of the content or find a toned down TV version, I strongly recommend all four: Bella, Juno, Waitress and Knocked Up.

Most pro-lifers know about Bella. It was an independent movie and one some film festival awards. It got a lot of buzz marketing and special showings. The actor/director has done a lot of pro-life work and made some other cool short films like _The Butterfly Circus_. I don’t recall if we ever learn the circumstances of the pregnancy in _Bella_, but it’s a great film that isn’t just about pro-life, but deals with themes of redemption and family, and adoption.

_Juno_ is a bit more mainstream and deals with a teenager in an unexpected pregnancy. The movie deals with private adoption arrangements and some of the emotional issues that ensue. IIRC, the pregnancy in _Juno_ also results from a leaky condom (another movie around the same time dealt with a girl who thought she was pregnant due to a faulty condom, but wasn’t).

_Waitress_ concerns a waitress who’s been having an adulterous affair and hopes to marry the doctor with whom she’s been carrying on. She ends up recognizing him for the jerk he is and goes off to raise her kid on her own.

OK, so I’d avoided _Knocked Up_. I’m pretty sure it’s available on Netflix, but I’d heard it was very crude, and fell into more of the cuss-ridden slacker comedy genre, so I really wasn’t interested in watching it. It aired on ABC the other day, so I DVR’d the “cleaned up” TV version.

Of the four, at least in the cleaned up version, I’d say this one is actually the best. I mean, _Bella_ is good, but by my critical standards, it fails in one respect: it’s a bit too artsy. _Bella_ is an extremely serious film without much straight up entertainment value. It’s a movie you watch to be enlightened but not for fun.

_Knocked Up_ had a very good message–actually several–while managing to be entertaining. Even to the point that a running joke for the first part of the movie is that the male protagonist and his buddies think they’re going to get rich by making a porn-ish website, and then find out there’s already a website that does exactly what they were planning. So he goes out and gets a real job.

Another movie that made waves among Christians in the past couple years is Kirk Cameron’s _Fireproof_, and _Knocked Up_ actually deserves more comparison to _Fireproof_ than _Bella_.

The point of _Fireproof_ is that almost any marriage can survive if one or both partners resolve to work at it by becoming a better person, making sacrifices for the beloved, and making overt gestures. Many of the techniques applied in _Fireproof_ are things I’ve always applied to my marriage. I’ve always argued that, contrary to what many experts say, there’s no reason to stop being “in love.”

I’m just as infatuated with my wife as the day we met, and I keep that feeling by working at it. One time, when Mary was pregnant with Allie, and I had just recently started driving but we still had one car, I came to pick her up at work. I had been out running errands, and I picked up an arrangement of roses for her at a florist that was having a sale.
I went in a few minutes before the school day ended and left the roses for her in the office. Then I went back out to the car.

Mary said the office paged her and said, “Mrs. Hathaway, there’s a . . . message for you in the office.” Given the tone, she thought, “Either a parent left me a really angry message, or John just brought a present.”
When she got to the office and found her flowers, everyone asked, “Is it your anniversary?” “No.” “Well, that kinda stuff ends after you have kids.” So I took that as a challenge. And every year subsequently, on some random day, I would leave an arrangement of flowers for Mary at school. I’d also buy stacks of cards at the store, keep them in my desk, and mail them to her at school periodically.
Those are the kinds of things _Fireproof_ talks about.

Now, I’m the first to say that marriage should be based upon sharing common values. However, after that, what is there to marriage?

Friendship, basically. I mean, the fundamental questions should be, “Is this a person I could be with every day of my life?”; “Is this a person I want to be with every day for the rest of my life?”; and “Could I bear the thought of *not* being with this person?”

Friendship and being able to get along should really be the requirement. My dad once said there really isn’t much to deciding if you want to marry a person; the challenge is really family. And then there’s the cartoon I like to quote, in which the guy at the bar says, “My wife and I never fight.” “Really?” “Never. We live in an apartment. We don’t have a car or a computer. Our parents are dead, and we don’t have any kids.”

So, in _Knocked Up_, we have the situation implies. Two people meet at a bar and really hit it off with their senses of humor. They get really drunk and have “unprotected” intercourse. The woman says, “Just get going”, while the man is trying to use a condom. He takes that as “forget the condom,” and 10 weeks later, she finds out she’s pregnant.

Abortion is only briefly considered, though she’s under big pressure from work. She works as an anchor for “E”. When she’s promoted to anchor from production assistant, her bosses tell her, “We can’t legally tell you to ‘lose weight,’ but . . . ” “Let’s just say you go home, look at your weight, and take note of the number. Then try to make it so that, in about 4 weeks, that number is about 20 pounds less.”

Later, they are dismayed that she tried to hide her pregnancy, since pregnancy is cool, and they assign her to interviewing pregnant celebrities.

The movie chronicles the couple’s struggle through pregnancy, and the guy’s attempts at being a better man. Sadly, it falls in the modern feminist attitude that women are perfect and men are losers, so there’s never really a discussion of how maybe the woman has some flaws she needs to overcome (once, when she accuses him of commitment issues, he tells her that she is the one with commitment issues). Of course, it’s the fact that the guy loves her completely which drives him to work hard to improve himself.

There *is* a cool seen where the guy kicks his girlfriend’s sister out of the delivery room, and it is implied that the sister is too much of a nag and too critical of her own husband, souring her sister’s view of women.

There’s also an amazing scene where the boyfriend and the brother-in-law are discussing their relationships, and the male protagonist tells his girlfriend’s brother in law how fortunate he should feel that an amazing woman has dedicated her life just to him and given herself totally to him for life.

The movie ends with a message not really so much about abortion as about relationships, as the couple are brought together for the sake of the baby. It’s a message that modernists would perceive as naive, including many conservative marriage experts, but it’s basically that all it takes to have a good marriage (though they don’t actually marry onscreen) is a baseline of friendship, humor and commitment, and if you have those things, and are otherwise willing to engage in the self-sacrifice it takes, then any relationship can work, even if it doesn’t match up to some romantic “ideal” (and of course that sharing a child is enough of a reason in itself to make a relationship work).