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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 36.27%
Average: 7.84%
Pretty Bad: 1.96%
Total Crap: 7.84%

9 reviews, 48 user ratings

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Knocked Up
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by Jay Seaver

4 stars

Before "The 40 Year Old Virgin", Judd Apatow was probably best known as the creator of two TV series much-beloved by those who saw them ("Freaks and Geeks" and "Undeclared"). These were not envelope-pushing shows, in fact leaning far more toward the sentimental than the outrageous. This is arguably why "Virgin" and "Knocked Up" are so good - network television demands the creation of characters you want to be around, and that's a skill he carries over to his R-rated comedies.

Getting to like Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) is easy - she's beautiful, friendly, patient, helpful and humble. She lives in her sister Debbie's guest house, works behind the scenes at the E! cable channel, and she and Debbie (Leslie Mann) go out to celebrate when Alison is told they want her on camera. It's there that she meets Ben Stone (Seth Rogen), a good natured stoner-slacker who shares a house with similarly-inclined friends, who vaguely intend to start a website where people can look up when a given actress appears naked in movies. Their drunken one-night stand leads to the title condition, and over the next nine months they try to figure out what kind of family they will become. Making it a frightening prospect is that their model - Debbie, her husband Pete (Paul Rudd), and their two kids - is falling apart before their eyes.

One of the things that makes Knocked Up more interesting than the typical romantic comedy is that it sets up a situation where it might not wind up a romantic comedy. The morning-after conversation that Alison and Ben have doesn't just make them appear different while illustrating actual unexpected chemistry; it demonstrates in no uncertain terms how Ben is not good enough for Alison, and isn't really motivated to improve himself. As much as he likes her and she likes him, our expectations and desires, along with Alison's, are a little more modest: Just let Ben get it together enough to be helpful during the pregnancy and a good weekend dad after.

We're in it because Apatow has always had a knack for creating lovable nerds, and Ben continues that tradition. He's a guy who never had any reason to learn learn responsibility until now, and Rogen's performance walks a nice line: Ben's immature, but seldom in a selfish or overtly obnoxious way. Rogen's got a good voice for the deadpan comedy he's given; he'll say something crude or weird (especially to the more straight-laced Alison) with a straight face, while letting just the right amount of confusion into his voice when, for example, Alison says that really, she doesn't smoke marijuana at all. He's polite about it, but you can see the gears turning in his head - how's that work?

It's a part very similar to the ones Rogen has played in a number of projects for Apatow - at one point the film was apparently going to be a spin-off from The 40 Year Old Virgin; the characters are pretty close to identical - and Katherine Heigl is probably in her comfort zone, too. Like many of her roles, Alison is a beautiful perfectionist, but not to the point where she holds the rest of the world to the standards she sets for herself or suffers from low self-esteem. As such, she makes a great foil for both Ben's group and the unreasonable Hollywood types at work - Heigl shows Alison wondering if these people are serious without being a stick in the mud (it's fun to see her watching movies with Ben to find nude scenes, or trying to hide her pregnancy from her employers, because she initially seems like the type that might get angry). Alison's not the most complicated character; and doesn't even have the sort of character arc Ben does, but she's likable, and that may be the most important thing. We can like both Alison and Ben even when they're in disagreement.

They're both also funny in the way that real people are funny, making jokes about what they see around them that aren't so calculatedly clever as not to sound spontaneous. In addition, they're surrounded by a bunch of characters who exist just to be funny - Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd, for instance, play characters that are a lot like Alison and Ben, but more frazzled by years of kids driving them nuts and not having any outlet for when they're being driven insane. Alan Tudyk and Kristen Wiig have brief but memorable appearances as the kind of television executives that cause eating disorders. A group of other veterans of previous Apatow productions (Jason Segal, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, and Marti Starr) play Ben's roommates and would-be business partners, amusingly hitting every spot along the slacker to stoner spectrum. Special notice goes to Ken Jeong as an OB/GYN with a bedside manner that borders on hostile.

As usual, Apatow doesn't quite feel the need to throw a joke at the audience every thirty seconds; it's more important that we get to know the characters and laugh because we identify with them. There's still plenty of time for guffaw-worthy bits, such as a drug-fueled trip Ben and Pete take to Vegas or the inevitable chaos in the hospital when Ben's friends and Alison's family both arrive and, basically, get in the way. If the film's got a weakness, it's being a little too fond of the pop culture reference as a joke; the way Spider-Man 3 keeps getting name-checked is a little weird.

Some of the jokes and name-dropping may get dated fast, but most of the film won't. It will be funny with the ring of truth for a long time, and is easily a cut above most of the other comedies at the theater right now.

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originally posted: 06/01/07 14:00:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell very funny 4 stars
8/31/12 roscoe hilarious, but it went on for way too long 4 stars
7/24/11 art I change my mind,IT"S DISGUSTING! 1 stars
7/14/09 the dork knight The men are too angelic, the women evil shrews. Still, could do worse... 4 stars
6/17/09 art SAD! 1 stars
1/09/09 Anonymous. KH is a mormon?! 4 stars
9/14/08 Natalie Myers Too bad KH has gotten mean. Heard she might go back to Mormonism. But would they have her? 2 stars
8/20/08 Phil M. Afficiando Very quick, inventive, spontaneous. A 4.5 rounded up cuz it's hard to do this genre well. 5 stars
8/17/08 mr.mike Agree with daveyt. Heigl and Mann are very good. 3 stars
8/10/08 Samantha Pruitt very funny and smart, but i thought Superbad had more laughs, love Seth Rogan! 4 stars
5/24/08 Karrie Millheim Funny and romantic in a way, funny seeing Seacrest cussin 5 stars
4/17/08 daveyt sort of amusing, ish... 3 stars
1/31/08 Beck Impressive love story breaking free of the hollywood story book. 5 stars
1/20/08 Carmen Crowe Used to like Katherine Heigl, but would rather see he knocked down than this! 2 stars
1/18/08 X Wang Funnier than I expected - and it actually has story line 4 stars
1/03/08 Annoyed Simply a horrible movie; unbelievable, full of stupid, un-likable characters. Not funny. 1 stars
12/17/07 gr Seth Rogen was fantastic! 4 stars
12/14/07 Bnorm So funny...maybe cause Steely Dan gargles my balls hahaha 5 stars
12/08/07 Sam Eli Hilarious and touching. That's all I have to say 5 stars
10/17/07 Beau It was pretty funny! catherine heigi was brilliant! 4 stars
10/16/07 fools♫gold Real in all ways - everything a true movie-thinker wishes for. 5 stars
9/21/07 rude if you didnt like the pot and mushroom scenes you are nuts, and bearded guy bashing is grea 5 stars
9/06/07 Good Taste Your average chick flick and its not FUNNY! would never watch again 1 stars
9/03/07 lisa An absolutly boring film the best thing about the film was seeing the credits come up! 1 stars
8/31/07 MP Bartley Touches the heart, rubs the funny KNOW these characters. 4 stars
8/02/07 Luisa Very funny...with real issues...great flick! 4 stars
8/01/07 AJ Muller Just a fucking funny flick. Real in certain ways, fake in others, but hilarious. 5 stars
7/20/07 Ole Man Bourbon Entertaining, but often ridiculously implausible and even stressful at times. 4 stars
7/19/07 Jake B The Year's Best Film! 5 stars
7/17/07 Emma freiken hilarious!!! lame in some parts, but mainly hilarious!!! 4 stars
6/18/07 Aussihunter Better than 40 year old virgin. No i'm serious it is. Seth Rogen rules 5 stars
6/15/07 Cheeky So unplanned pregnancies just magically 'work out' for the best. Yeah right. 1 stars
6/12/07 bjjones Only for low-class very immature men...Horrible movie! 1 stars
6/11/07 Lynn Unbelievably funny film. Sex scene with Allison pregnant had me laughing so hard! 5 stars
6/09/07 Simon Excellently hilarious. 5 stars
6/06/07 gr117 Hi-friggin-larious! 5 stars
6/06/07 party boy the movie was awesome if anybody disagrees kiss my @$$ 5 stars
6/05/07 Nolamc slap your leg laughter! Loved it! 5 stars
6/04/07 lee you will laugh the whole way through, and you have every right to. 5 stars
6/04/07 Doug Fantastic. 5 stars
6/04/07 James Eric as good as it gets 5 stars
6/04/07 Liz Wonderful comedy. Heartwarming but also gut-wrenchingly hilarious! Perfect. 5 stars
6/04/07 baba awesome 5 stars
6/04/07 daniel k perfect 5 stars
6/03/07 Damon Funny and poignant. Best comedy I have seen in years. 5 stars
6/02/07 Dan Very enjoyable romcom, though the Heigl-Rogan relationship was too unbelievable to buy into 4 stars
6/02/07 Abbath Funniest movie in years. Too many funny lines to reminice on. 5 stars
6/02/07 not a moron Worse than Bad Boys 2. A LOT worse! 1 stars
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  01-Jun-2007 (R)
  DVD: 25-Sep-2007



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