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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 36.27%
Just Average: 7.84%
Pretty Crappy: 1.96%
Sucks: 7.84%

9 reviews, 48 user ratings

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Knocked Up
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Almost Too Much Of A Good Thing"
4 stars

Considering that the world of cinematic humor is in such a parlous state at the moment that the average film can barely scrounge up enough wit to fill a two-minute trailer, let alone a feature-length running time, it seems positively churlish to actually criticize a film for trying to cram too many funny jokes into the mix. And yet, this is the strange problem that I wound up having with the eagerly anticipated new comedy “Knocked Up.” On the one hand, the film is a frequently hilarious work–I would go so far as to say that it is easily the funniest film to come out this year that isn’t named “Hot Fuzz” or “Perfect Stranger”–that effectively fuses together the sophistication of a classically constructed romantic farce with the slapdash silliness of a goofball stoner jokefest into what may be the most unexpectedly sweet gross-out comedy to come along since the Farrelly Brothers were firing on all cylinders. On the other hand, it tries to cram in so many irrelevant side characters, subplots and non- sequiturs that even the most indulgent moviegoer is likely to come away from it wishing that the whole thing was maybe a reel shorter. If ever there was a movie that proved the truth behind the belief that there can be such a thing as too much of a good thing, “Knocked Up” is that movie.

The film stars Seth Rogen as Ben Stone, an amiable schlump who, despite being in his mid-twenties, is living in a perpetual state of arrested adolescence–with a quarter of buddies (Jonah Hill, Jay Baruchel, Jason Segel and Martin Star), he whiles away his days smoking pot, silly bets (such as whether one of the group can go an entire year without shaving) and haphazardly trying to set up a website that offers users all the pertinent information on famous movie nude scenes. (Just to give an idea of the work ethic involved, the group has been working on the site for months when we first see them, they are only just getting around to noting the particulars of “Wild Things.”) One night, Ben is barhopping with his pals and meets the beautiful Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl), a young woman out celebrating her recent promotion to on-air personality at the E! Channel. The two hit it off (in fairness to her, there is a lot of alcohol involved) and in a moment that will no doubt give false hope to chunky stoners all over this land, the two wind up sleeping together. In the cold, hung-over light of the next morning, however, Alison sizes him up as a weirdo and a loser and resolves to simply forget that she ever gave him the time of day, among other things. Of course, things aren’t quite that simple and after barfing during an interview with James Franco, Alison discovers that she is pregnant and that Ben is the father.

Considering the fact that Ben is barely able to take care of himself, let alone a child, and Alison’s job is the kind where months of visible weight gain would most certainly not be considered an asset, you would think that there is one alternative that two incompatible people facing an unplanned pregnancy might seriously contemplate. However, since America is quite ready for a wacky comedy about abortion (as “Citizen Ruth” pretty much proved a decade ago), Alison decides that she is going to continue with the pregnancy (while hiding it from her bosses for as long as possible) and Ben decides that he is going to stick by her side. As a result, having already begun the reproductive cycle, the two decide to embark on the even-more complicated task of forming a real relationship. Needless to say, there are plenty of complications during the gestation process. Although Ben may be sincere in his desire to be there for Alison, his continued irresponsibility and seeming unwillingness to take things seriously (such as his love of getting high and his refusal to read the various baby-related books that he has promised to read). On Alison’s side, the marriage of her sister (Leslie Mann) and her seemingly perfect spouse (Paul Rudd) is on the verge of crumbling and this begins to suggest that if even they can’t make a go of it, she might be better off without Ben after all.

“Knocked Up” was written and directed by Judd Apatow, whose previous film was the immensely popular “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and it shares a lot in common with that earlier effort. For starters, both of them are films that are essentially sweet-natured comedies that intelligently offers a look at the dynamics of contemporary relationships (both romantic and buddy-buddy) and the fears of being forced to grow up and assume responsibility in a culture that celebrates arrested adolescence while still offering up the kind of outrageous humor that will spark water-cooler conversations for the duration of the summer. Granted, bringing together the charming and the profane is not exactly a radical development these days–virtually every gross-out comedy in the wake of “There’s Something About Mary” has tried to add in some sentimental moments amidst the sleaze but for the most part, those gentler moments have always felt as though they were simply jammed in by cynical producers in an effort to broaden the potential audience pool. In the case of Apatow, however, you get the sense that he is more interested in the relatively serious-minded relationship material than in the adolescent sight gags. Instead of simply placing his central characters in a series of predictable scenes in which they are simply jerked around by the machinations of the screenplay, he has developed Ben and Alison into genuinely interesting characters whose developing relationship has an authenticity that is rare in contemporary comedy–when they have a big fight, for example, it is for reasons that virtually everyone in the audience will recognize and understand and not just because the story calls for them to separate. In this regard, Apatow is helped enormously by the inspired casting of Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl in the leads–former supporting player Rogen steps up to the big leagues and comes up with a hugely winning performance that is both funny and unexpectedly touching (especially in the scene in which he confesses his fears of impending fatherhood to his own dad, a nice cameo bit from Harold Ramis) and Heigl, best known as one of the whiners on that insufferable “Grey’s Anatomy,” displays a heretofore unsuspected flair for comedy. Together, they form one of the most likeable, if unlikely, romantic pairings to be seen in an American film in a while.

Of course, it may take some audience members a second viewing to recognize the intelligent construction of the screenplay and the fine performances because they will simply be laughing too hard to fully notice them the first time around. There are a lot of big, big laughs on display here and while it wouldn’t be fair to even hint at a lot of them–part of the reason that some of the lines succeed so well is because they are completely unexpected as well as funny–I can say that Apatow is equally adept at both the broad set-pieces (such as the expected wackiness surrounding the childbirth and a bit in which Ben and the very pregnant Alison try to have sex) as well as the smaller, more off-handed bits (the bit in which Ben, about to go to bed with Alison for the first time, looks at her and remarks “You’re prettier than I am” is both amusing and oddly moving). Apatow is also an incredibly democratic filmmaker in that he gives all of his players a chance to show their comedic chops–Ben’s quartet of buddies are always going off on one insane riff or another (the best ones being the running commentary on the guy elected to grow the beard for a year–“You look like Robin Williams’ knuckles!”–and an explanation of the aphrodisiacal qualities of “Munich”), Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann sparkle as the married couple going asunder and even Ryan Seacrest, of all people, gets a self-parodying bit as himself that is one of the film’s funniest moments.

The problem with “Knocked Up” is that Apatow may be too democratic of a filmmaker for his own good–in his effort to give everyone a moment to shine, he allows the story become derailed by elements that are admittedly funny but which wind up distracting from the central storyline and stretch the running time to 129 minutes, which is pretty long for a comedy. Let me present you with two examples–one long and one short–to prove my point. In the former, having separated from their respected mates, Rogen and Rudd go off for an extended trip to Las Vegas while Heigl and Mann go out for a night on the town and discover the hard way that their clubbing days are at an end. In the latter, two of Rogen’s buddies kill time in the hospital waiting room by grabbing a couple of wheelchairs and recreating scenes from “Murderball.” Both of these scenes are very funny (I especially like the bit in the former where Rogen and Rudd get stoned before going to a certain Vegas act) but they wind up disrupting the flow of the central story. If these were the only two times that this occurred, I might not have minded but there are a lot of these moments strewn throughout and they come perilously close to working against the film. This problem also cropped up to a lesser degree in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” and the only explanation I can offer is that since Apatow comes from the world of television (having worked on such great shows as “The Larry Sanders Show,” “The Ben Stiller Show,” “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared”), he is still relishing the idea of telling a story that doesn’t have to fit within the rigorous confines of a television time slot. At some point, I hope that he begins to realize the ancient proverb that says that less sometimes can be more as well as the more recent proverb that says that there is always the deleted scenes section on the DVD for some of these otherwise extraneous moments.

That quibble aside, “Knocked Up” is a sparkling bit of entertainment that is pretty much the first of the big summer movies to actually live up to all of the advanced hype. From the hilarious opening scenes to the surprisingly lyrical and open-ended final image, it is the rare comedy that actually sticks in the mind after the end credits roll and offers viewers more than one nifty joke after another. However, I must suggest that if you do plan on going to see the film, you should do so as soon as possible so as to prevent others from ruining any more of the jokes for you than I already have.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15742&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/01/07 01:40:57
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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
8/30/12 roscoe hilarious, but it went on for way too long 4 stars
7/23/11 art I change my mind,IT"S DISGUSTING! 1 stars
7/13/09 the dork knight The men are too angelic, the women evil shrews. Still, could do worse... 4 stars
6/16/09 art SAD! 1 stars
1/08/09 Anonymous. KH is a mormon?! 4 stars
9/13/08 Natalie Myers Too bad KH has gotten mean. Heard she might go back to Mormonism. But would they have her? 2 stars
8/19/08 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
4/16/08 daveyt sort of amusing, ish... 3 stars
1/30/08 Beck Impressive love story breaking free of the hollywood story book. 5 stars
1/19/08 Carmen Crowe Used to like Katherine Heigl, but would rather see he knocked down than this! 2 stars
1/17/08 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
12/16/07 gr Seth Rogen was fantastic! 4 stars
12/13/07 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
10/15/07 fools♫gold Real in all ways - everything a true movie-thinker wishes for. 5 stars
9/20/07 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
8/30/07 MP Bartley Touches the heart, rubs the funny bone...you KNOW these characters. 4 stars
8/01/07 Luisa Very funny...with real issues...great flick! 4 stars
7/31/07 AJ Muller Just a fucking funny flick. Real in certain ways, fake in others, but hilarious. 5 stars
7/19/07 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
6/17/07 Aussihunter Better than 40 year old virgin. No i'm serious it is. Seth Rogen rules 5 stars
6/14/07 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
6/08/07 Simon Excellently hilarious. 5 stars
6/05/07 gr117 Hi-friggin-larious! 5 stars
6/05/07 party boy the movie was awesome if anybody disagrees kiss my @$$ 5 stars
6/04/07 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
6/03/07 James Eric as good as it gets 5 stars
6/03/07 Liz Wonderful comedy. Heartwarming but also gut-wrenchingly hilarious! Perfect. 5 stars
6/03/07 baba awesome 5 stars
6/03/07 daniel k perfect 5 stars
6/02/07 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
6/01/07 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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