Writer-director Judd Apatow is probably best known for last year's sleeper hit comedy The 40 Year Old Virgin, where Steve Carrell played the titular character whose friends tried to get him laid. In Knocked Up, most of the familiar faces in Virgin returns for Apatow's latest offering, this time with Seth Rogen cast as one of the protagonists who has his hands full when he learns that he's going to be a father. But here's the catch - the pregnancy is totally unplanned, and was a result of a drunken one-night stand.
Knocked Up is fertile (pardon the pun) ground for comedy, and Apatow's script, while it doesn't have much slapstick, turns it on by having plenty of winning dialogue, as the film chronicles the entire 9 months of the pregnancy period. And at its core, it's a true blue romance movie, with some seriousness at the side as it takes a long hard look at modern relationships, and the challenges faced by the modern family. It's expectations versus sacrifice, and Apatow really nails it all in with aplomb. The entire film is witty and so spot on, it sometimes hurts when you see things happening on screen, happen so close to home.
Seth Rogen stars as Ben Stone, an unemployed man living off his insurance benefits for having been hit by a truck. He spends the day idling with his geek friends, who together, are setting up an Internet website which documents the exact moments when actresses appear nude in movies. Simply put, he's your undesirable plumb nerd who girls wouldn't want to go near. But opposites attract, and in a moment of brilliance, he manages to snog Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl), a beautiful executive for E! Entertainment, the It-girl with a bright future ahead of her, until their unprotected tryst. She seems to have this penchant for making love in her bra though...
So it's a tussle between the two who are poles apart, to try and learn more about each other, to see if they like each other enough to want to try and do something serious about their situation. To Alison, she's keeping the baby, and to Ben, he's in for the ride, if he can prove that he's serious about it. What I liked about the movie is the subtle reminder never to judge a book by its cover, that hey, geeks (rule) are just as fun to be with, despite their encyclopedia knowledge about totally random bits of trivia, and that they don't have model good looks.
But more importantly, as I mentioned, it takes a good hard look at modern relationships, and contrasts this perfectly by having Alison's married sister Debbie (Leslie Mann), sharing the spotlight as well, with Paul Rudd as Pete her husband. They seem like the perfect all-American family, but if you chip deeper into the psyche, you can see that all is not so well, and that is contributing to the fear factor our new couple are trying to grapple with. There was a particular incident in the movie which was a case of reel life mimicking real life, where a less than attractive, or non nubile lady tried to enter a hot club, and being rejected by the door. Looking at how it played in the movie, I guess it's pure business that hot girls get priority / VIP treatment to enter such clubs and enjoy other club benefits - the clubs need them to generate income, and in most cases, not likely to enjoy having unattractive people in their clubs - it's an image thing, not just because you have money means someone else doesn't. Image is something to upkeep, and reputation easily lost. But of course, it all played out in a rather comical way, in the show of course. Real life will have the person write scathing letters to the press.
Like The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up has its fair share of geek jokes, tons of movie references that movie fans can cheer about, and a number of uncredited cameos who just are a hoot to watch. And Ben's posse of geek buddies just about steal almost every scene they're in, despite being a little too predictable with their weed-smoking, free-loving, frequent-cursing ways.
Very rarely do comedies come with a lot of heart. Knocked Up balances fun and seriousness all too well, and as a result, with its feel good ending offering plenty of hope, makes this movie one of the best this year. Highly recommended!