KNOCKED UP (2007)
Starring Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Martin Starr, Harold Ramis, Joanna Kerns, Alan Tudyk, Kristen Wiig, Charlene Yi, Iris Apatow, Maude Apatow, Adam Scott, Loudon Wainwright III, Mo Collins, Paul Feig, Ryan Seacrest, James Franco, Eva Mendes, Fergie, Jessica Simpson and Steve Carell.
Screenplay by Judd Apatow.
Directed by Judd Apatow.
Distributed by Universal Pictures. 122 minutes. Rated R.
With this film and The 40-Year-Old Virgin – as well as with his cult TV series Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared – writer/director Judd Apatow has made a bit of a specialty niche for himself. Apatow is better than almost anyone in Hollywood at merging the teen gross-out sex comedy with the chick flick. We have farting, drugs, tits and pubic hair jokes for the guys. Then, there is romance, discussions of feeling and cute kids for the gals. Everybody wins. It’s the perfect date movie concoction.
However, unlike Virgin, in Knocked Up, Apatow strays a little too far into the chick flick direction. All things considered, despite all the bells and whistles, this is an opposites-attract love story – and more to the point a love song to act of parenthood.
Knocked Up is pretty good, but it’s no 40-Year-Old Virgin.
Of course, in one way, Knocked Up is the perfect guy movie, because it suggests that if you get lucky and you get her drunk enough, a guy like Ben (Seth Rogen) could not only chat up a built-for-speed, career-track glamour girl like Alison (Katherine Heigl) at a bar, but actually take her home. It seems like science fiction that a chubby, curly haired, unemployed guy would not get shot down immediately or eclipsed by a shinier guy. Then have sex with her? And eventually a relationship? Even if she was celebrating getting her dream job as a reporter for E! Entertainment Television and had way too much to drink – that just isn’t happening. As a guy who is much more on the Rogen looks scale than the Heigl scale, I say good for him – but I don’t really believe it as anything but a fantasy for a second.
Of course, there is a complication. The drunken one-night stand gets her pregnant. In a very PC short-lived debate, abortion is quickly dispensed of (there would be no story otherwise) and the two decide to get to know each other and have the baby together.
Therefore, they have an additional huge pressure on the relationship beyond the fact that they essentially have nothing in common and (sorry to say it, but let’s face it, it’s true) she’s way too good for him.
Ben is played by Rogen – who seems to be Apatow’s go-to guy, appearing in everything which the director has done including Virgin, Freaks and Undeclared. This film is packed with actors from Apatow’s old shows and movies, but that’s cool – I like it when a director gets a troupe of actors they prefer to work with. Ben’s slob roommates are played by Martin Starr (who was in Freaks and Geeks), Jay Baruchel (who was in Undeclared) and Jason Segel (who was in both Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared.) James Franco of Freaks and Loudon Wainwright III of Undeclared also do cameos. Wainwright also contributed the soundtrack.
However, this is Rogen’s first gig as the lead and honestly, he’s a little more useful as a supporting actor. Not that he isn’t charming and doesn’t have a great self-depreciating sense of humor, it just seems like he works better as the guy who comes in and tells a great joke then bows out rather than being the straight man.
Heigl (of Grey’s Anatomy) can easily hold her own as a lead, however. She is beautiful and charming and funny and has the right sense of moodiness. Shockingly, even better is Leslie Mann (Apatow’s wife) as her older sister, a neurotic who both loves and hates her husband (Paul Rudd of 40-Year-Old Virgin), fears aging and craves attention.
In a strange irony, there are a couple of scenes in which Alison’s bosses at E! TV try to skirt around the suggestion that she needs to lose weight by suggesting she try “tightening” her body. At over two-hours long for what is essentially a light romantic comedy, Apatow should have taken his own advice and tightened his movie. While much of Knocked Up is funny, there is no way it needed to be so long. Several strategic cuts of superfluous scenes – mostly of Ben’s wacky roommates and some of the baby stuff (like a scene where they sit in an obstetrician’s office with all sorts of small babies in their mother’s laps in a calculated attempt to get women to say awwww) – would be much appreciated.
By the time the actual birth takes place – complete with the all-too-predictable complication of the umbilical cord getting wrapped around the baby’s neck and the also clichéd scene where the determined natural-childbirth advocate mom begs for an epidural when the contractions hit – I was looking at my watch. I’ve seen variations on this scene way too often in my life. There are also a couple of completely gratuitous stock shots of a baby’s head crowning out of a vagina. I’m no prude and I do recognize the miracle of childbirth, but that is appropriate for a personal home video, not a romantic comedy.
However, even with its flaws, Knocked Up is definitely worth seeing. Doubly so on a date.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: June 23, 2007.