Writer/Director Judd Apatow may just save the R-rated comedy yet. Between this and The 40-Year-Old Virgin he has proven himself to be the go-to guy for uproarious, thought provoking comedies with real characters. Even more dazzling is the fact he can achieve such emotion without sacrificing the kind of lewd humor audiences demand these days. Apatow’s run in the TV circuit was cut short, but he is here to stay in Hollywood.
Ben Stone (Rogen) is not the most driven individual in the world. After all, who else could live off $14,000 for a decade without getting a job? He loves smoking weed and watching skin flicks with his four slacker buddies (they’re getting ready to launch a website where users can find the exact timestamps in films where their favorite stars are naked), but that’s about it. One night the gang hits up a local club and Ben meets Alison (Heigl), a recently promoted E! Entertainment Television personality, whose career is on the right track. They do some shots and one thing leads to another. Ben wakes up the next morning, awkwardness between the two ensues, and they part ways. Flash forward eight weeks and Alison finds out she is pregnant. Now her and Ben, determined to keep the baby, must find a way to connect and make their relationship work.
Apatow’s films have their heart in the right place, which is largely why they work so well. Sure they are vulgar and, at times, shockingly so, but the moral center keeps the whole works balanced. This also results in amazing crossover appear, which Knocked Up has in spades. The average guy will relate to Ben on numerous fronts. He’s well-meaning and funny, but not the kind of guy you usually see with a gorgeous woman at a bar. He wants to have fun and enjoys having no responsibilities, and mans up when the circumstances call for it. Women will see parts of themselves in Alison, who is petrified and embarrassed by the situation.
The subplot involving Alison’s friends, married couple Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann), really fleshes out the “perspective” issues for each gender as well as sets up some hilarious bits. The banter among Ben and his friends makes for some instantly quotable one-liners and never feels overplayed. As cohesive and consistently hilarious as the whole film is, it does drag in small sections during the second act, particularly when Ben and Pete drive to Las Vegas to get away from things.
With Knocked Up, Judd Apatow is establishing himself as a John Hughes of sorts for the generation in their twenties and thirties. He writes realistic dialogue and always wraps it around an emotional message both males and females can relate to. Unlike so many comedies that rely on plastic characters based on no one from this universe, Apatow studies society and what truly makes us laugh – which often turns out to be ourselves. It isn’t always pretty or politically correct, but it’s our world.
Studio: Universal Pictures
Length: 129 Minutes
Rating: R for sexual content, drug use and language.
Theatrical Release: June 1, 2007
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Written by: Judd Apatow
Cast: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel