I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, but if I did, Im Sang-soo’s The Housemaid would surely be among them. This remake undermines the unsettling achievement of the iconic original film, made in 1960 by Kim Ki-Young, by constructing an explicitly classist framework for its characters. It replaces the Korean everyman at the center of the earlier film with a sexually smug cartoon character for whom wine and blow jobs are totems of his boundless leisure and power. By doing these things, it panders to an audience that craves victims and villains. It’s a lesser achievement, and a more simplistic one. But it’s glossy and lush and full of gorgeously decadent people doing their gorgeously decadent thing. In its way, it’s a delight.
Summer counterprogramming comes through in a fairly big way with Knocked Up, the follow-up to writer/director Judd Apatow’s sweet, sensible and hilarious The 40 Year-Old Virgin. Steve Carell was charmingly awkward in that movie, but Knocked Up star Seth Rogan is more goofy, with the unassuming smile of a gentle doofus plastered across his face for the film’s duration. Somehow this big lug stumbles into a one-night stand with inebriated TV personality Katherine Heigl and, to the consternation of both parties, a baby is soon on the way. Apatow’s subject is the culture clash between Heigl’s orderly upper middle class lifestyle and Rogan’s Top Ramen digs. Will she accept him for who he is? Will he ever grow up and take responsibility for his actions? Of course they will—it’s Hollywood. The point is how they get there. Without Carell around, the new film doesn’t scale the same outrageous comic heights, but it’s still very funny, with the subjects of pregnancy and childbirth adding a new dimension to the ever-present sex comedy. And as crude as it is—earning its R rating with dirty jokes, raunchy dialogue, and a helping of stoner humor—its witty, family-values approach manages to avoid pandering.