Sunday, July 22, 2007

Knocked Up

It seems that Judd Apatow can do no wrong. This is the first film he has directed since "The 40 Year Old Virgin", but he produced and wrote the widely successful "Talladega Nights", and before those- "Anchorman." Knocked up is actually the best of the lot. It reunites Apatow with many actors he has proven to work well with, not just from these movies, but going as far back as his days as writer/producer/director of the short lived, but incredible shows "Undeclared" and "Freaks and Geeks." Apatow is a very talented force at the top of his game, and his movies are very, very funny.

The plot is essentially as follows: Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) is a loser living with his loser friends off lawsuit winnings from a decade ago. Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) is a rising star on the E! television station. They have a chance meeting one night, and after a whole montage's worth of drinks, their new found acquaintanceship. At first Alison just brushes it off as a mistake and goes about her life again- until she discovers she's pregnant. After wrestling with the decision to keep the baby, she and Ben try to get to know each other, and make an honest attempt at a relationship.

I'm not going to lie, as simple as the premise sounds, Knocked Up proves to be one of the most bizarre comedies I have seen put on screen. It combines of course the romantic comedy between Alison and Ben. This is mirrored in the marriage troubles of Alison's sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) and her husband Pete (Paul Rudd). It also has elements of the loser buddy pictures, with Ben's friends (Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, and Martin Starr) as they smoke pot and try to launch a website informing visitors about nude scenes in movies. It even throws in elements of a Hunter S. Thomsonesque vibe in a hilariously climactic scene of Ben and Pete travelling to Vegas on psychedelics. I know these down sound terribly odd, but once you see a conversation between Ben and Pete discussing Back to the Future as a sexual metaphor, you'll understand my thoughts. These scenes are unusual, but brilliantly timed.

This is also by far the most mature movie yet- and I use mature very loosely. First, the theme of an unwanted pregnancy already seems to lend itself more easily to a drama than a comedy. Second, there is drug use at every turn. You find yourself getting angry at Ben, wanting to yell at him to put down the bong and pick up the baby books. Finally, the language is more severe than all of Apatow's other movies combined. The foul language count seems to be up there in the league of the Big Lebowski, or Glengarry Glenn Ross. Also, this is perhaps the first time I have ever actual scene a baby crowning in a movie. That caught me off guard.

Knocked Up runs a little long- at just over two hours. It difficult to maintain essentially one joke for that long. Developing the other characters seems to take the pressure off the repetition between Ben and Alison being on, and off, and on again. The movie drags a little bit in the middle, but starts strong, and ends strong, and remains funny mostly throughout. There are some scenes that could have been cut or shortened, just make the length a bit more manageable.

Above everything else, this movie is funny- really funny. It's not often that I'm actually laughing out loud at a movie. The conversations are frequently hilarious, and the characters are actually very well developed- another unusual trait in a comedy. I think Knocked Up has potential to be even more quotable than Napoleon Dynamite- if every other word wasn't a profanity that is.

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