So Knocked Up is great, huh. And it made almost thirty million clams this past weekend. A wise person would indicate that the winds are shifting in onscreen comedy. Original comedy is happening, reliable creators have arrived (Apatow and McKay come to mind), ones that deliver jokes that don’t insult their audience AND make a ton of dough. I mean, the concept of Knocked Up is awfully high and it seems that half the romantic comedies are about guys putting away childish things, but it’s handled with a grace and intelligence that defies the wretched stuff we’re often handed.
Judd Apatow has already outclassed his peers.
Here’s the thing; Hollywood itself showcased it in one fell swoop with the trailers that preceded the film:
I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry - This is a typical Hollywood comedy, but the presence of stupid slapstick humor and absolute veiled homophobia that permeates the trailer is sickening. While I feel that the majority of Sandler fans look at gays as people to make fun of and freaks of humanity, there's no reason to feed that. Of course the guys are straight, uncomfortably dealing with the prospect of being gay, and I'm sure there's a message at the end that being gay is OK. What bothers me is the absolutely predictable and super-lowbrow humor on display. I'm a Sandler hater, but for each step forward the guy takes with a Punch-Drunk Love or Reign on Me there's a Click or Chuck & Larry to forcibly enter and ejaculate a comedy placebo in my face and ass. I'll even take a Spanglish for fuck's sake. This is a very dumb concept and a dumber trailer.
Good Luck Chuck - I get a lot of flak for liking Dane Cook back in the day. Heck, I even did some meetings with his management about possible projects before he blew up and made short work of all the goodwill he'd earned. He can be a very solid stand-up comedian, even though the Louis CK [an infinitely better comedian] thing smarts. That said, Tourgasm was pestilence and he hasn't had a good film yet. I'm not ashamed for liking him in the past just as much as I'm not ashamed to say he fucked it up royally. Good Luck Chuck looks really bad. Jessica Alba does not. She looks like the stuff hard-ons were invented for, but the movie looks like another one-note comedy pitch come to life sans rewrites. Hey look, slapstick in the trailer!
Evan Almighty - This is possibly the worst offender. Bruce Almighty wasn't good. Steve Carell has done amazing work at establishing his own persona and not walking in someone else's footsteps, parlaying a one-dimensional role in the Carrey flick and a stint on The Daily Show right onto the A-List. Evan Almighty is a bloated idea, one that chooses Dr. Doolittle type of comedy (which is 100% visual gags, typically a road to the shitter) over the intelligent and quirky stuff that made Carell a star. The trailer reeks of CGI, not even very good CGI, taking a dumb concept straight to a man made Hell. That the trailer features slapstick is no surprise considering the oediferous Oedenkirk and Shadyac combination. These guys could benefit from a nice body slam by a mud golem. I look forward to the next film, where Jim Belushi finds the coat of many colors, leading up to a climactic dance-off at a gay dance club.
License to Wed - The fact Robin Williams is the butt of a funny joke in Knocked Up is made even funnier by his presence in this horrendous trailer, one about the church's zealous involvement in the wedding planning for Mandy Moore and John Krasinski's nuptuals. Robin Williams hams it up hardcore, putting his hairy palms all up in the prospect of real comedy and with generic slapstick moments to boot. It's a shame good talent like Krasinski has to do time in comedy jail before being given something interesting to do.
All of these trailers did a good job towards giving Knocked Up a bed of mediocrity to build upon, but they represent the majority and the only way it'll change is if people treat each of these films like the piles of shit they are.