Favorite SP Critics

"Knocked Up"
Dir: Judd Apatow

Patricia Ducey

First, in the interests of full movie reviewer disclosure, I will tell you that I hated Caddyshack; I hated Clerks even worse than Caddyshack—well, I walked out halfway so I can’t fairly compare the two, but I didn’t like it. Knocked Up reminded me, unpleasantly, of these two movies. Director Judd Apatow’s follow-up to his hit The 40-year-old Virgin, Knocked Up is indeed funny with a warm heart, too, like Virgin—but it’s exceedingly raunchier and relentlessly potty-mouthed, in the tradition of the dismal Caddyshack.

Katherine Heigl (of Grey’s Anatomy) plays Alison, a TV junior exec who lands a promotion to on-air personality at E! Network and hits a local club to celebrate, dragging along her married sister Debbie (Apatow’s wife Leslie Mann). There she meets and flirts with Ben (Seth Rogen) and after a few too many brewskis takes him home and beds him. Ben and his slacker buddies soon mythologize his one incredibly lucky one-night stand into the lynchpin of their loser folklore and are ecstatic, albeit surprised, when Alison calls Ben some two months later. But, no, guys, it’s not that Alison “wants more”—she actually wants to break the news to Ben that’s she’s “knocked up” with his child. (Plot contrivance alert: why would this successful, smart woman feel obligated to share this with a one-night stand?)

The bad stuff: Knocked Up is a 90-minute movie bumped to 120 with script pages larded with extraneous four-letter words. The FPM (f***-per-minute) amps up in the third act to give Alison’s married sister Debbie her turn at the verbal pyrotechnics with a profanity-laden diatribe aimed at a local nightclub’s bouncer. Bu this is not Team America World Police, its puppet characters hilariously and idiotically foul—the tone simply doesn’t fit the suburban mis-en-scene here. Conventional wisdom in Hollywood used to be that a script should contain at least one f*** to avoid the dreaded PG rating, but I cannot guess what the motivation is here, except that Knocked Up is pitching to all demographics, including the one that would only be lured by the promise of a stoner flick. And in the strange finale, seemingly from another movie, Apatow presents a graphically realistic childbirth scene (some sacred to temper the profane?) that will send women the nation over scrambling for their birth control.

Seth Rogen’s Ben is the focus of the film. We can accept his metamorphosis because of a native intelligence that seems to gurgle up occasionally from his bong-addled spirit, but he is mismatched with Heigl’s patrician (by comparison), leaving them with no chemistry. Alison’s character is a mere sketch; she lives in a guesthouse on Debbie and Pete’s property—why?—and we never see any other aspect of her life or understand her decisions or her affection for Ben.

The good stuff: Rogen suggests a young Albert Brooks, and we hope to see him grow into those shoes. Paul Rudd as Debbie’s husband Pete charms, while Ryan Seacrest as himself and Kristen Wiig as Alison’s icy but lethal boss are hilarious. And the stoner guys do deliver a belly laugh or two.

In the final analysis, it would be wise to avoid too much analysis, so go see Knocked Up if you liked Clerks or Caddyshack. If not, go see Paris, je t’aime.

-- Patricia Ducey

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