Sunday, June 03, 2007

KNOCKED UP

Written and Directed by Judd Apatow


Pete: Isn’t it weird when you have a kid and all your dreams go out the window?

Judd Apatow is something of a contemporary creative hero. He is a man who works within a rigid system and delivers consistently hilarious fare that manages to remain oddly honest and revealing. The director of THE 40 YEAR OLD VIRGIN returns this summer with KNOCKED UP, a comedy about dealing with the unexpected that lives up to all its expectations. After one night of drunken, messy sex, Alison and Ben (Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen) find themselves in a situation many have found themselves in before, pregnant. Alison is fresh from a promotion while Ben is busy doing nothing at all. Neither expected to see the other ever again, much less raise a child together. This is horrible timing for both of them but both must learn that nothing makes two people grow up faster than having a baby. And what do two grown-ups do when faced with a less than ideal scenario like this one? Why they give up on looking for love and force a relationship to form between each other for the sake of their child and in the interest of being responsible human beings. The idea that they could actually be successful is hilarious enough in itself.

Apatow sets us up from the start. We meet Ben in the middle of a stoned back yard boxing match of enormous proportions. Moments later, we meet Alison waking to her alarm so that she can prepare for her responsible day as a functional member of society. They meet each other in a bar later that day. Alison is there to celebrate her promotion and Ben is there to drink. Alison is young and vibrant; Ben is a pudgy stoner. He is not without charm but social hierarchies would keep him way out of her league. And so KNOCKED UP begins its journey into the male fantasy. In this fantasy, a male nobody can get with a female somebody with absolutely no explanation that would give it any sort of rational sense. Without it though, there would be no premise to develop. Further to this, Alison decides that she and Ben should do their best to be together. This successful woman who already has a supportive family that could help her through her pregnancy and raise the child suddenly sees no chance of finding her own happiness and learns to settle.


Are you laughing yet? C’mon, this is funny stuff. The funniest thing about KNOCKED UP is that it actually is funny. Heigl and Rogen both turn in fantastic performances that will certainly leave audiences wanting even more of them. They are also surrounded by a number of supporting players who may be one-sided but make the most of their limited depth. On Alison’s side, Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd play Alison’s sister and her husband. They too found themselves unexpectedly pregnant when they were younger and decided to take a shot at happiness together. Only, all these years later, he makes excuses to be out of the house to clear his head and she doesn’t trust that he’s being faithful. On Ben’s side, he’s got a pack of stoner buddies (Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill and Martin Starr) who help him keep it real. They also stop him from becoming the man he needs to be if he’s going to be a good father. Where Apatow’s talent steps in is in making all of this symbolism apparent without being the least bit obvious or overwrought. The entire cast is clearly having a blast with their characters and with each other, making it impossible not to laugh along with them. There are also more pop culture references than you can shake a “Gilmore Girls” series finale at.


Despite all their chemistry though, Heigl and Rogen never fully convince me that they have actually fallen in love. Sure they each learn a thing or two about themselves and how to be better to each other but in the end, Apatow does more damage than good. One walks away from KNOCKED UP thinking that a baby can bring people together or save a relationship. One also walks away thinking that to grow up means to leave your dreams and frivolity behind you, to settle in to a potential life of boredom and disappointment. Finally, and fortunately for all involved, one also walks away from KNOCKED UP laughing one’s ass off and not caring one bit about convention and the dangers that stem from it.

1 comment:

Trendini said...

oooh, pop culturer references: I am in for sure! Seeing as we have approx the same sense of humor and you claim to have laughed your arse off, Ill go see it :)