Knocked Up (2007)
Starring: Seth Rogen, Katherine Heigl, Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Martin Starr
Directed by: Judd Apatow
Alright, I'll get to it right away: no, I don't believe for a second that a guy that looks and acts like Seth Rogan's character in this movie (Ben Stone) could ever get a woman that looks like Katherine Heigl. Ever. No matter how many drinks she had. The movie does what it can with this conceit, with Heigl playing Alison Scott as a very down-to-earth girl (despite working for E! Channel news, eventually becoming on air talent), to the point where you could see how a woman like Allison might warm to a dude like Ben, if she wasn't so gorgeous. And in truth, the movie probably could have operated just as well had Allison been played by someone less attractive (not that Heigl doesn't do well in her role, because she does).
That said, the pairing of Rogen and Heigel, and the speed in which their relationship develops, are the only things that don't ring true in this fantastic movie. Everything else feels as natural and real as it is engaging and hilarious. Writer and director Judd Apatow managed similiar sentiment amongst raunchy humour with 2005's The 40-Year-Old Virgin, a delightful movie that Apatow and company have managed to surpass this time out. In doing so, Apatow brought back Rogen and Paul Rudd, and rounded out the cast with Freaks & Geeks alums Jason Segel, Jay Baruchel and Martin Starr (playing characters named Jason, Jay, and Martin) and even managed a cameo from alum James Franco, as himself.
The real life friends, joined by the hilarious Jonah Hill (playing a character named Jonah), have fantastic comedic chemistry, most likely improvising many of their scenes and creating a genial atmosphere where none of the performers are trying to steal scenes from one another, and all manage to be memorable. They make a group of characters that could easily become tiresome (a group of listless stoners who spend their days goofing on each other and preparing their website that researches the nude scenes of the stars), and make every scene with the group laugh out loud funny.
For a raunchy comedy like this, funny is the most important thing, and Knocked Up delivers the laughs in spades. Awkward moments, clever jokes, silly jokes, slapstick, and inappropriate humour, this movie has it all. But, beyond the jokes of some stoners and the situational humour of pregnancy and early relationships, there's real heart in this movie. Apatow obviously loves his characters, and thus keeps them from ever becoming tiresome or loathsome. As an example, Leslie Mann's Debbie (Allison's sister) at first comes off like she might be the movie's shrew, but later is shown to have real heart and genuine concerns. The characters quickly feel familiar without being cliche, and develop as real people instead of simple delivery systems for jokes.
The movie expertly weaves in the hilarity and the heart of the story, while following the couple from conception to delivery, confronting real issues of pregnancy along the way. My wife, a labour and delivery nurse, had little issues with how they handled the pregnancy and delivery (other than a technique the doctor performs in the delivery), which speaks well of the realism offered by a raunchy comedy. In many ways, Knocked Up is similar to a Steve Martin family movie (a similarity Apatow acknowledges when he has Ben watch Cheaper by the Dozen), only it's made for adults (especially of the 20-to-30-year-old variety), instead of families. Oh, and it's a lot funnier.
I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this movie. It provided both belly laughs and genuinely touching moments. It's a long comedy at two hours and nine minutes, but it didn't feel long (well, at least it wouldn't have if the theatre I was in didn't forget to turn on the air conditioning, which was torturous. But, even under those inhumane conditions, I was in no hurry to say goodbye to these characters, choosing to hang around for the baby photos of the cast that played over the credits). As funny as it is smart as it is touching, Knocked Up delivers everything you could ask for.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005)
About a Boy (2004)
Wedding Crashers (2005)