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Monday, August 27, 2007

KNOCKED UP (2007) - Judd Apatow

Okay crew, set your phasers on dumb. Well, to be honest, that's not entirely fair. While some of the humor in Judd Apatow's Knocked Up certainly aims for the crass, there's a lot about this film that is smart. Not least the casting, which is top-knotch. The humor is broad in every sense of the word, but that's not a bad thing. Knocked Up arrives on these shores (it's won over both critics and audiences in the US since it's release in June) with a huge amount of hype, but while it's not the greatest comedy of all time, it's certainly the best comedy of 2007 so far. And another hit for Judd Apatow and his go-to guy, Seth Rogen.

Rogen plays Ben Stone, an illegal Canadian immigrant stoner who lives with his friends and dreams of starting a web site that tells subscribers at what point in any movie, any given female movie star whips off her clothes. Yes, this is a man with lofty ambitions. Meanwhile, Alison Scott, played by Katherine Heigl, is working for the E! Network and receives the promotion of a lifetime. A promotion that will see her put in front of the cameras. She and her sister hit the town and run into Ben. Ben and Alison spend a drunken night together, and go their separate ways. Eight weeks later, Alison starts vomiting uncontrollably which, according to my medical degree, is a sure-fire sign of pregnancy. Alison, who was none to enamored with Ben once the beer-goggles fell off, decides to tell her slacker one-night stand about the proverbial bun in the oven. Ben decides to step up to the plate. But these people are polar opposites, and while Ben's intentions are certainly noble, their compatibility as a couple with a baby due will be put to the test.

The premise of Knocked Up is relatively simple. It's a formula that's been done before. The old rite of passage tale, with plenty of lessons to be learned, and responsibilities to be taken on. But while this formula is quite familiar, if there's plenty of laughs to be had, what's wrong with revisiting it again?! And what's so successful about Knocked Up is that the laughs are incredibly consistent and genuinely funny. Apatow made his mark on Hollywood with The 40 Year Old Virgin. I cant say I was a huge fan of the film, and I barely remember it (apart from the great waxing scene). But this is the film that will make his name.

I'm willing to admit, there is a certain amount of suspension of disbelief to be employed with this movie. Ben and Alison's relationship is a little unrealistic. She, the attractive, successful type takes to the stoner slacker quite quickly (believe me, it doesn't happen like that in real life!), and it all goes a little too swimmingly. But while we have the idealistic relationship between Ben and Alison, Apatow also plays a trump card by contrasting it to Alison's sister Debbie's relationship with her husband, Pete (played by Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd). Here we see how Ben and Alison's relationship MIGHT end up. And it ain't all sunshine and flowers. It's an interesting way of approaching the subject matter, and is key to what makes the film work.

Of course, there's plenty of low-brow humor too. After all, Ben's a stoner. But the jokes are well written, and the cast is so damn likeable that it'll take one cold-hearted person not to be won over by the movie. Sure, there's quite a bit of saccharine that's lavished over the whole affair, but in the end, this is a comedy. And there are plenty of laughs. The best comedy of 2007? So far, definitely. But with positive word being spread about Superbad, which is written by Rogen himself, this achievement may be short-lived. Which is great to hear. With 2007 being such a shitty year, we're all in need of a good few laughs.


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