Directed by: Judd Apatow
Premise: After a one-night stand between Ben, a dope smoking loafer (Seth Rogan), and Alison, a career woman on her way up (Katherine Heigl), results in a pregnancy, the two attempt to reconcile their lifestyles and come to terms with impending parenthood.
What Works: Knocked Up is very funny and a step up from Apatow’s last film, The 40 Year Old Virgin. Like that film, Knocked Up is consistently funny and mixes dirty humor with very sweet, good-hearted intentions. In all areas, Knocked Up succeeds The 40 Year Old Virgin and it is much more mature and much more enjoyable to watch. It demonstrates command of a basic rule of comedy writing that is often forgotten, that the most successful comedies have strong and coherent dramatic centers. Knocked Up has some exceptional character writing and lets its actors run with the material, allowing them to laugh and to cry, and that variety of emotion sells the movie. Both lead actors are very good and give performances that are appealing and engaging. The relationship between Ben and Alison has a lot of reality to it, especially as they go ahead with their relationship after discovering the pregnancy. Likewise, the relationship between Alison’s sister and brother in law (Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd) is also conveyed very convincingly and the interrelationship between the two couples allows for a lot of complications in the drama and new opportunities for humor. Along the way, the characters confront a lot of the issues involved in pregnancy, contemporary romance, and burgeoning adulthood and Knocked Up actually has something to say about these subjects, allowing them to play out in the drama.
What Doesn’t: Harold Ramis appears in what amounts to a cameo as Ben’s father. He is great in the role and the only disappointment in the film is that there was not more interaction between the two characters. Also, the film is not as laugh out loud funny as some might expect from the creator of The 40 Year Old Virgin, but that is because this film relies less on gags and more on situational and dialogue humor.
Bottom Line: Knocked Up is a very good film. Like the original American Pie, the picture is able to take on the subject of sexuality in contemporary life and really do something with it while having a few laughs along the way.
Episode: #233 (March 29, 2009)