Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Schlubs and the women who love them

Jim Emerson's post on whether or not the "Apatow Schlub" is too ugly for the girl inspired a comment from me:

My problem with the "Apatow Schlub" in Knocked Up specifically, is not that I think Katharine Heigl is too attractive for Seth Rogen in some cosmic sense, but that I don't believe that their specific characters would ever think "Hey, let's start a relationship!" (I can just barely buy that she'd go home with him in the first place). For me, this shows a lack of imagination on the part of Apatow & Co.: why not make the her character an up-and-coming comedian/writer on some kind of MAD TV-type show (just as a for example)? In other words, make her a character who (a) might be attracted to Rogen's character for his humor or laid-back attitude and (b) would be enough of an outsider not to be turned off by his lack of ambition.

In movies like The Disorderly Orderly or Billy Madison or Norbit, it doesn't matter that the schlub ends up with a woman who (realistically) seems way out of his league, because those movies don't really try to make sense on that level. At this point, I'd say that the schlub (or loser or whacko) with the babe has become such a convention of these kinds of Jerry Lewis-style comedies that in Dumb & Dumber the Farrelly Bros. get laughs by subverting the convention.

But Knocked Up, in that it is trying to observe and comment upon a real cultural phenomenon (the extended adolescence of post-slacker dudes), should try to make sense on that level. It doesn't (for me, at least), so that's why I think it's only half successful (well, a little more than half: Leslie Mann and Kristen Wiig manage to pick up some of the slack from Heigl's under-realized character).

I'm playing a similar tune in my post on Superbad, here.

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