Knocked Up (9/10)
by Tony Medley
Knocked Up is a
knock out. I donít say that lightly. First, except for TVís The Larry
Sanders Show Iíve not been a fan of much of writer-director Judd
Apatowís work. I didnít like 40-Year Old Virgin (2005), and I
detested Taladega Nights (2006) and Anchorman: The Legend of
Ron Burgundy (2004). So I went into this with low expectations.
Even though this is a
comedy, it deals with controversial issues head on. Alison meets Ben
Stone (Seth Rogen) in a bar and they have a drunken night of sex, even
though she is a well-spoken lady and heís an uncouth, profane lout, at
least thatís what he appears at the outset. The entire concept is based
on this less-than-ordinary guy getting lucky with a gorgeous, talented
woman. Sheís a beautiful, refined woman, with a great job working for
ďEĒ entertainment as an on air interviewer. Heís basically a bum with no
job and no money. Even though thatís the concept, it bothered me the
entire movie because I just couldnít accept the idea that these two
people could have a chance at a relationship, or that she would even
try, even if she did get pregnant with him.
But Apatow has an
explanation, ďBasically, I try and make these movies with the thought
that theyíre about trying hard not to be an asshole. Any story about
the journey toward how to be a good person and what it takes to get
there is funny to me.Ē It seems as if everyone in this film, except for
Alison, is a jackass. But Apatow has them moving towards betterment.
When Alison calls Ben eight
weeks later to tell him sheís carrying his baby, their worlds are set
topsy-turvy and the hilarity begins.
One place where Apatow
excels is when people are having serious fights about serious matters.
If you listen to what they are saying and what the issues are, these
are, well, serious. But Apatow makes them sidesplittingly funny. Thatís
Alison lives with her
domineering sister, Debbie (Leslie Mann, Apatowís wife in real life) and
her henpecked husband, Pete (Paul Rudd), both of whom are brilliantly
comedic. They have serious problems of their own. Added to the mix are
their daughters, Sadie and Charlotte (Maude and Iris Apatow,
respectively; yes this does look as if there is some nepotism involved
here. But itís good nepotism because both Maude and Iris are charming).
There are two kinds of
laughs you have in a film. One is where you donít really laugh, but you
see or hear something humorous and so you chuckle aloud. Thatís not a
laugh, itís a chuckle. Thatís what you see mostly in films today. Then
there are real laughs, where you just donít have control of yourself. I
havenít laughed this hard or long in a movie since Freaky Friday
(2003). It is so rare these days to get a real long belly laugh from a
film, but I was laughing uncontrollably in parts.
That said, this has content
that could easily be offensive to many segments of society. Planned
Parenthood and others who never saw an abortion they didnít like wonít
be pleased. This shows a young woman with an unplanned pregnancy
actually deciding to carry it to term and give birth. It shows ultra
sounds of the fetus from eight weeks on, every month. Seeing the fetus
as it develops into a person so fast, itís hard for the pro-abortion
crowd to argue that that fetus is something to be killed at will. Thatís
why they donít want women who face the decision of whether or not to
abort to see what it is they are actually killing.
It could also offend people
who think that babies should be the result of marriage. I am one of
those, but the fact is that millions of pregnancies occur out of
wedlock. This deals with that real and practical fact head on in an
intelligent, sensitive, and humorous way.
Also, there is abundant
usage of the ďfĒ word. Ben and his four roommates (JONAH HILL,
Accepted, Superbad, Evan Almighty; JASON SEGEL, How
I Met Your Mother; JAY BARUCHEL, Million Dollar Baby; and
MARTIN STARR, Freaks and Geeks) are low class vulgarians who live
in filth and use four letter words constantly. I didnít find any of them
even the slightest bit humorous.
Heigl clearly has a ďno
nudityĒ clause in her contract (and kudos to her for that) because the
sex scenes contain no nudity. That might disappoint some. There is
nudity during the birthing scenes, however.
So there are lots of things
here that can offend people who choose to be offended. I say, relax and
enjoy it. Despite the controversial subject, this is a very funny movie.
June 2, 2007