By Fred Topel | Image property of Universal Pictures.
Knocked Up is a profoundly great movie. It delivers deep belly laughs (thank you, Jenny McCarthy) with a meaningful story and characters. It shows Nine Months what a great childbirth comedy can be.
Movie Review: Knocked Up
Ben Stone (Seth Rogan) lives with his party boy friends. They invent random games to have fun but it already looks like a depressing loser life. Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) has everything going for her, most recently a promotion to on-air host at E!. Out celebrating, Alison hooks up with Ben and miscommunicates her stance on condoms. When she gets pregnant, Ben tries to step up and do the right thing, but it's a very real problem.
The film derives sweetness from vulgarity. You see all of Ben's insecurity revealed through his bravado. He's saying outrageously inappropriate profanity-laden things, but it's all about where he comes up short as a man. Other characters make sex jokes seem innocent. Talk of masturbating into towels focuses on the practical laundry issues and a correction of spelling it just adorable.
The comedy is just so socially relevant. The nightclub doorman's rant is a complete indictment of social structure and beauty myths, and it's hilarious. The whole movie is about little things that people really do, not big ideas some executive thought of. Maybe this movie is The Break-Up with kids.
You get sympathy from minor grievances. It's too easy for movies to play the adultery card to make you hate someone. When they have him do something that's just a little bit selfish, it's actually much worse.
The typical romantic comedy structure makes sense here because this relationship is set up to fail. It's not like they're the perfect couple but only some artificial contrivance causes them to separate before reuniting. Here, the split is actually more likely. It's the romance that's a twist.
Even though it's two hours long, everything flows naturally. The dialogue is obviously natural because of the improvisation style, but the whole sequence of events seems like the flow of life, not someone cramming it all into 90 minutes. Maybe this Apatow guy has a future in this business.