“Marriage is like an unfunny, tense version of Everybody Loves Raymond. But it doesn’t last 22 minutes. It lasts forever.”
Drew’s rating: How drunk do you have to be to forget how to use a condom? It’s got two steps.
Drew’s review: Longtime readers may remember my Wedding Crashers review, in which I expressed surprise that in the early afternoon on a Saturday, our theater was packed with old people. At the time I figured it was a coincidence, but now I know better: they’re following me. That’s the only explanation I can think of for the fact that, midday on a weekend, the wife and I again sat down at one of the raunchiest films of the year and stared in amazement as the row in front of us filled with senior citizens. As I watched, an old lady leaned over to one of the only two people in the row below AARP range and asked, “Do you young people today still say ‘knocked up’?” I kid you not.
What the hell is going on?
Anyway, let’s just talk about the film. Knocked Up finds Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) finally realizing her ambition: as soon as she can “tighten up” about 10 pounds, she’ll be appearing on camera as an interviewer for E! (I know… stole my dream too.) To celebrate, she heads out to a local club and encounters Ben (Seth Rogen), a slacker who lives for smoking pot, scouring films for celebrity nudity, and… did I mention smoking pot? The two have zero in common, but as many of us know all too well, alcohol renders that minor detail completely irrelevant; so they return to her place and begin, er, doing things it’s uncomfortable to watch in front of old people.
The end result, as you’ll be shocked to hear unless you somehow know the movie’s title, is that Alison ends up “in a family way.” When she (awkwardly) breaks the news to Ben, the two decide to take an (awkward) stab at being a couple and raising the child together, but only if they can survive several dozen funny (but awkward) pregnancy pitfalls that are both odd and, yet, somehow very believable.
Let’s not beat around the bush: It’s a VERY familiar concept for a movie. Young, unwed singles freaking out over an unplanned pregnancy is a Hollywood staple we’ve all seen a dozen times. So please, if you take nothing else away from this review, know this: you will not care. You won’t care because, without exaggeration, Knocked Up is the funniest, most realistic iteration of the cliché you’ve ever seen. My wife compared it to Anchorman, one of the few “dumb” comedies she likes, in terms of hilarity, but truthfully, Knocked is far more down-to-earth.
I’m positive there’s not a damn thing in it that hasn’t been said or done by real people in that situation, and while the characters have their share of emotional reactions, it’s all within the realm of believability. Ben doesn’t instantly become ultra-responsible superdad when he finds out he’s going to be a father, but nor does he stupidly assume his life will remain the same; he simply undergoes a gradual shift in priorities with occasional backsliding, presented in an honest, refreshing manner. Likewise, Alison doesn’t expect him to instantly fall in love or marry her, but she doesn’t try to ditch him either… she just tells him she’s keeping the baby and offers to let him be involved if he wants. Both agree to try dating, but neither is deluded into thinking theirs is a destined lifelong romance.
But while Rogen and Heigl are appealing leads and could make the film enjoyable by themselves, what puts it over the edge is our “B” couple, Alison’s sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) and her husband Pete (Paul Rudd). Even more than Ben and Alison, they’re incredibly grounded characters who have perhaps the most realistic, no-BS marriage I’ve ever seen depicted on screen… which for you single types may be either an incentive or a deterrent, I don’t know.
Either way, I think a key factor in their appeal is that the filmmakers were careful to show them still maintaining outside interests, that getting married and having kids didn’t instantly become the sole, defining aspect of their lives. Both love their children, but Pete still likes playing fantasy baseball and taking road trips to Vegas; Debbie still wants to go out to clubs some nights and have guys hit on her. That’s real, that’s how our lives actually work, not some sanitized Rockwellian fantasy. Spouses and kids, if you have any, should absolutely be the highest priorities in your life, just not your only focal point, and I think having both couples strive to achieve that balance — Ben and Alison getting their crap together for the coming baby, Pete and Debbie finding the right level of involvement with each other — really helps the film as a whole.
While I’d like to, I can’t claim the movie was completely without fault. There are no prolonged unfunny stretches, but a few of the jokes could have been trimmed to keep things under two hours. In particular, I wouldn’t mind losing the subplot about the endless search for an obstetrician, as well as most of the stuff with the rude replacement doctor. On the other hand, Ben’s friends raise the bar for movie stoner buddies everywhere by actually being funny (how did they come up with that many jokes about facial hair?), and I could have used even more of Ben and Pete’s trip to Vegas… their almost-but-not-quite-gay friendship rivals J.D. and Turk’s on Scrubs, and there’s no such thing as too many Swingers references.
I’m not sure what else there is to say about Knocked Up — it’s the funniest film of the year so far, the male leads are entertaining and the females are attractive (and entertaining), and while it’s mainstream, the director and some cast members hail from Freaks and Geeks, so cult purists can watch with a clear conscience. If you haven’t seen it yet, definitely go check it out. Just keep an eye out for those seniors — they bite.
Lissa’s rating: Is it ironic we didn’t see this in theaters because we couldn’t get a baby sitter?
Lissa’s review: So, Drew already reviewed Knocked Up and praised it to the skies. But when it comes to reputed “gross out” comedies, I’m always wary of there only being a male opinion out there. I am a firm believer that an appreciation for fart jokes is embedded somewhere on the Y chromosome, but the presence of two X chromosomes results rather in a desire for meaningful conversation and humor that does not focus on gaseous emissions. In other words, just because guys (even thoughtful, sensitive guys like our staff) say you should see this comedy isn’t going to get women running towards the shelves.
Of course, given that I’m writing this after the DVD came out and after so many other critics have loved it, the above paragraph sounds really pompous and self-important because most of you gals saw this one long before I did. Well, pththththpth to you.
Anyway. If you’ve read this site at all, you know I have a toddler. More than that, I’m also something like seven months pregnant now. I think it’s seven months; pregnancy math is confusing. Anyway, as you can expect, I was going to either be sniffing in disdain or loving every second of a movie about pregnancy — especially when written by a guy. And all I can say is…
Oh my God, this was me.
Not the whole thing, obviously. For one, aside from the same hair color, I look nothing like Alison (Katherine Heigl), nor do I have a job anything like her or live with my sister. Duckie looks nothing like Ben (Seth Rogan), and has a real job. Our romance was normal and therefore is as cinematically boring as possible (although there is a part that involves alligators which makes for more entertaining storytelling). So, yeah, the set up is not remotely the same. But there were scenes in this that made me fall over laughing because I swear to God, Jude Apatow is sneaking around in our house somewhere and listening to me complain. I have NEVER seen such an accurate depiction of pregnancy and childbirth in the movies. NEVER.
It’s not so much the physical symptoms. In fact, in a lot of ways the movie skips over that, and I’m glad. It’s very easy to find information on morning sickness, stretch marks, and aching backs. But when Alison breaks down and shouts about how her whole life (and body) has been taken over and nothing is the same anymore or ever will be again… well, I don’t know how much Apatow totally understood what he was having his character say, but it was obvious he actually listened to his wife during her pregnancies.
And the whole aspect about still trying to find your own life and your own time and interests even as this little person comes and attaches themselves to your leg… I doubt there are many parents who can’t empathize with that. I really liked that the movie emphasized what a balancing act parenthood (and spousedom) can be, and that while it is all worth it, it’s definitely not easy. It was so nice to see a movie portray parenthood as something other than martyrdom or pure, heavenly bliss.
Outside of pregnancy identity issues, there’s been a lot said about the implausibility of Alison and Ben getting together for a one night stand. To be honest, I didn’t think it was implausible at all. In fact, I thought for once someone in Hollywood actually made a character that didn’t place appearance at the top of their “things to be attracted to” list. I mean, Seth Rogan might not be a total hottie, but he’s not utterly hideous, either. He’s kind of… normal. And something that was obvious — and consistent — in Alison’s character was that she was extremely attracted to a sense of humor. It was very nice to see that, as well as the specific reasons Alison became disillusioned about Ben, and Ben’s gradual growth.
Another much ballyhooed aspect is the crude humor and language. So often people make the argument that R-rated humor in movies represents real life. So often I don’t believe it, because I know plenty of people who can make truly funny jokes about things other than sex and without profanity. Apatow has a rare talent for actually honestly reflecting R-rated humor in real life. The humor didn’t just not take away from the main plot of the movie, but actually enhanced it. This is one of the few movies I’ve ever seen that I truly felt would have been a lesser movie without some of the cruder jokes.
Like I said, I do feel like I’m blowing my fanfare long after the procession has marched by. But hey, it’s nice for a change to see a movie that’s so good you have to tell everyone else to see it, and it’s nice to have a forum to have that freedom. So. Go rent Knocked Up. Definitely worth it.
- How many cast members from The Office can you fit into one movie? I counted 3, as well as 4 from Freaks and Geeks.
- Hey, first time I’ve ever liked Ryan Seacrest!
- Lady Luck, regarding Katherine Heigl: “She is so hot, it’s ridiculous.”
- Debbie is played by Leslie Mann, wife of director Judd Apatow, and her and Pete’s kids are Mann and Apatow’s actual children.
- Girls, let this be a lesson to you — if you don’t see the condom go on, it’s not on.