Runtime: 2 hr 9 min
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Judd Apatow
Starring: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann
Romantic, funny, pop-culture savvy.
Review by: JerrySaravia
Added: 8 years ago
"Knocked Up" is the 2000 version of Cameron Crowe's classic "Say Anything." The difference is in the execution because "Knocked Up" is a raunchier, zonked-out, free-for-all, highly spirited version of the same old story of a lovable male loser and a sophisticated, firm, ambitious woman. It is also given intelligence, humanity and honesty by one of our best writer-directors, Judd Apatow.
Seth Rogen plays a slightly overweight, slightly unlikable romantic lead named Ben - a rarity in this genre. I say it is a rarity because a character like his, a stoner with a predilection for pop trivia, is often in the sidelines as the comic relief, the occasional foil, to a more strapping, handsome leading man. Not so with Ben - he has some charm but very little to offer beyond drinking beers, smoking pot and creating a website about nude celebrities in movies. He lives with three other roommates who do pretty much the same, mooching off of Ben's 14,000 dollar settlement from a previous accident (he's down to 900 dollars that he hopes to spend within two years). They all go clubbing one night where Ben meets Alison (Katharine Heigl) who is tickled by his humor, especially his canny method of getting beers from a bartender. Ben and Alison have sex that night, nary a condom. 8 weeks later, Alison discovers she is pregnant, which may be met with unease considering that she is one of the star reporters for the E! channel. Alison decides that it is best to let Ben know, despite their rickety, fractured relationship.
The screenplay wisely avoids the usual trappings of a movie like this. Alison lives with her allegedly unhappy sister, Debbie (Leslie Mann, who first made an impression on me with "She's the One"), who has a husband that needs some time to himself. She could've easily been portrayed as a disapproving, hateful woman once she becomes aware of who the father is. Instead, she respects Ben, despite his stoner existence. And the husband, Pete (the reliably genial Paul Rudd), could've been shown as another hateful prick who uses violence against Ben. Instead he becomes best friends with Ben, even going on a trip together to Vegas to sort out their complicated lives.
That is at the heart of "Knocked Up." The movie has the messiness and complications of life. Nothing is watered down or made to seem contrived. Every action, motivation, performance and line of dialogue underlies the reality of getting, well, knocked up. Added to that are notable pop-culture references to "Spider-Man 3," "Short Cuts" and "Munich" ("Those Jews kicked ass!") Any movie this romantic, funny, pop-culture savvy without sounding obvious, and unsparing is certainly worth more than a mere mention as one of the finest, rawest romantic comedies in quite some time.
Writer-director Apatow has managed to make a sensitive romantic comedy that doesn't stoop down to cliches or needless graphic sex scenes (though be warned that there is some graphic sexual language). The film has its heart in the right place, and one can be thankful for at least that much. Interestingly, Rogen and Heigl don't exactly have chemistry - they rock as a genuine pair with whom you are not sure if they are in love or if they just love each other as friends. Though Apatow concedes to the expectations of the happy resolution that comes packaged with any stale, alleged romantic comedy, "Knocked Up" does it with surprise, pathos and lots of big, raunchy gags (especially Apatow's own "The 40 Year Old Virgin"). Don't be surprised if you shed a tear for this couple, even if it was just a baby that brought them together.