We used to ask whether women were beautiful. Now, whether they work. But movies suggest we still love beauty in women. This bolsters poets’ confidence… Sandler’s wife is both beautiful & works. But she learns her children are rather growing up than being raised by her; the results are not flattering; she likes to boss people around, & thinks too much of herself.
The women are introduced in the men’s circle because the men understand growing up better. The crass comedy, man’s recourse from conformism to nature, should raise your eyebrow – so also seeing marriage through the man’s eyes.
Everything good & everything bad about this movie reveals the passion for equality. Indeed, democratic humor hides the differences between people. Partly, comedy makes us look the same because it moves back from the conventions which separate us to our common nature; it deflates pretensions of superiority. But it must ignore our natural distinctions in order to enforce our conventions; it conceals the difference between the different opinions about happiness which we severally pursue.
Making women seem like men seems almost inevitable, given the romantic, sentimental way we see our way of life. But men’s loyalty is much fiercer, which comedy must conceal. Keeping this in mind, we realize that the men’s decision to let the women in on their lives is a show of great, perhaps decisive, neediness. Our world is better suited to women than men anyway. But the women have to pay a price for this unlikely opportunity: The women must see the men as they see themselves. This admits at once the differences between men & women, their importance, & the difficulty to overcome them. In this case, only the man seems able to educate his boys. In proving he is better, he also admits he must take care of his own. This new admission of the importance of family gives the woman the chance to take charge.
It is astonishing how foreign subtlety is to democracy. What should be suggested is shouted. This excess of honesty makes comedy difficult. Comedy exposes ridiculous conventions to ridicule; but that requires the ability to laugh at conventions. Sandler wants us to laugh at ourselves, which we dislike – we are overtly moral, self-righteous. We look to the urgency of the urgent things as a justification for our impatience. We ignore virtue up until questions of trust & education arise in a family. Then we suspect our own motives, if we have a conscience. – The comic poet shows we do no evil, thus allaying our qualms about chasing our pleasures; he make the good seem pleasant, so as not to hurt our feelings; he flatters us with his interest in us.