129 Min. | Comedy – Drama – Romance | August 2007
IMDB Rating: 7.1
Director: Judd Apatow
Staring: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd
Knocked Up Review: Probably because there is something fundamentally poignant about watching people you deem hopeless stumbling toward responsibility, Knocked Up reminds of the old Natalie Wood/Steve McQueen dramedy, 1963’s “Love With the Proper Stranger”, about a Macy’s salesgirl who gets impregnated by a ne’er-do-well jazz musician during a one-night stand and then tracks what happens afterward. However, Knocked Up is the 21st century, and the girl is now an interviewer on E!, and the guy is a very non-McQueen-like slacker in this uproarious and quite humane 2007 comedy, the latest work from writer/director Judd Apatow. In both comedies, he manages an amazing balancing act between a raunchy, post-frat hilarity and a shrewdly observed social commentary. Yet, there is no discernible fluctuation in the humor or the genuinely good spirit the films generate. Blessedly free of exhausting crescendo moments, the dialogue has a nice ramshackle feel and so do the characters. You really feel you want to know what happens to them after the film ends.
The story of Knocked Up, looks at the outset like your standard Hollywood opposites-attract rom-com as it centers on the burgeoning relationship between Ben Stone, the perfectly named definition of a slacker, and Alison Scott, the beautiful entertainment reporter. They meet at a trendy LA bar where she is celebrating her promotion to on-air personality. Ben buys her a beer, and she is impressed enough by his unexpected chivalry to keep him company. One thing leads to another, and you can guess the rest. But what you can’t guess so easily is how these characters respond to the situation and to each other. There is also a surrounding gallery of characters offering their own opinions about what is developing, in particular, Alison’s acerbic older sister Debbie, who is facing a crisis of her own as the control-freak wife of passively dissatisfied husband Pete. Their story intertwines nicely with the main plot line to the point where each makes the other more resonant.
Harold Ramis has a nice small scene as Ben’s proud dad, while Ben’s friends are an assortment of slacker-types played out like a well-tuned improv troupe. My one complaint about Knocked Up is just some of the sluggish pacing toward the last third of the film, the same problem had with “Virgin”. A running time of 129 minutes seems a bit long for the story being told here, though the birthing scene is hilariously executed, in particular, a scene-stealing bit by Ken Jeong as the passive-aggressive gynecologist called on to deliver the baby at the last minute. One other minor irritant are the deliberate references to “Virgin” in some of the dialogue between Ben and Pete. Regardless, this is one smart, heartfelt character-driven farce that far exceeded expectations. Overall, Knocked Up is a good film.