Sunday, June 03, 2007

Knocked Up: Revenge of the Geeks


The first time I laughed out loud in "Knocked Up," the first movie this summer to meet and exceed all my very high expectations, was when that perfectly normal looking 7-year-old announced to Katherine Heigl that she had "googled murder." I think I would have crashed the car at that point.

But the best laughs, of course, come from Seth Rogen's Ben and his truly debauche gang of buddies. They're what made this movie, for me, so much more enjoyable than "The 40-Year-Old Virgin."

Although I think Judd Apatow and the very funny Mike White are still friends, Mr. White attacked "Virgin" as a mean flick in which Apatow turned on his own fellow geeks. While I wouldn't go that far, I simply didn't like one character in "Virgin," from Steve Carell on down (although I will always, of course, have plenty of time for Catherine Keener.)

With "Knocked Up," however, it's clear from the outset that he loves these guys, all of whom except for Jonah Hill have worked for him on television in the past. I liked that Hill, Jason Segal, Martin Starr and Jay Baruchel all kept their real names, and that they felt exactly like the kind of lovable losers we all hung out with at some time in our lives. They reminded me most of the crew I ran with in college, but as far as lifestyle, they were probably closer to the two dudes I later lived with in a just-barely-converted furniture store for a year in Athens, Ga.

The terribly familiar story here, however, is all about Seth Rogen and Katherine Heigl, both of whom bring enough new to the table to make it a lively tale. After a drunken night out (and looking at Katherine Heigl, those must have been some very potent cocktails) and a supposedly one-night stand she, of course, finds herself "Knocked Up."

What makes this original is that the journey taken by Seth Rogen's Ben really isn't much of one at all. He never has some magic moment that transforms him from a toad into a prince. For most of the movie, in fact, he's a dick, albeit a very funny one. He never seems like much more than a stoner who's living off what he got for being run over by a Canadian bus driver, but you're still rooting for him to be more.

And the only complaints I've been able to find about this extremely enjoyable flick were that the women, especially Heigl, get short-shrift. To that, I only have to ask what movie were you (the only two critics I could find who didn't like this) watching? Much of the middle of the movie is given over to what exactly she will do in this unfortunate situation, and it's the best writing Apatow has delivered since "Freaks and Geeks."

Heigl never just gives into the proposition that she's stuck with this guy just because she got pregnant. You, or at least I, can see her struggling with it, especially in that great scene after the earthquake, when it finally hits her just how much of a loser Ben really is.

And special kudos should also go to Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann (Apatow's wife) for their supporting work. Rudd, who I've liked since way back with "Clueless," just shows perfectly the struggles of a dude who had to get married way before he was ready, and his Matisyahu joke at the end (you won't hear from me how it comes up) is just perfect. Mann gets just about the best scene among many great ones when she gets a crude reality check from a nightclub bouncer.

My only fear after watching this whipsmart comedy was what will become of Judd Apatow after this makes a ton of money. It should have an opening weekend of at leat $25 million, meaning he can do whatever he wants to.

Since he's already in bed with Adam Sandler for the upcoming "Don't Mess with the Zohan," and was a producer on "Talladega Nights," I'm afraid he's gonna be like the new girl on "Freaks and Geeks" who, after hanging out with the geeks for a few days, decides she'd rather hang out with the cool kids.

Even when he does now graduate to the big time, though, I have a suspicion he'll always remember that he's truly just a geek at heart.

23 comments:

Jake Mabe said...

I couldn't disagree with you more about "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Steve Carell's character was so darn lovable; the film's writing was sharp and hilarious, much better than "Wedding Crashers."

All that aside, I can't wait to see "Knocked Up." It's playing at the local 'burb multiplex, so I should be able to catch it this week. Sounds like it's a good one.

Reel Fanatic said...

It definitely is, Jake ... While I did find Carell's character much more likable than any of the guys he ran with in "Virgin," the rest of the guys were just really annoying to me

James said...

I thought KU was much better then "virgin." I like "virgin" but KU just had that extra je ne sais quoi.

The jokes all killed (esp. the beard jokes)and were well mixed through out the script. I also like that the movie never seemed to lag unlike that disaster of Pirates III (don't get me started).

All in all I loved this movie and would go see it again in the theatre. It met and far exceeded my expectations. For me?? Best movie of the year so far.

James said...

Oh I forgot to add that I thought Rudd and Hill stole the show.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm definitely with you on this one, James ... Jonah and Paul Rudd were both great, especially Paul Rudd

jeremy said...

Ok, now that you've seen it, I've gotta ask--didn't the Cirque du Soleil scene seem unnecessary? I mean, I understand showing Ben and Pete bonding, or whatever--but really we had gotten enough of that by that time in the film. And then the contrivance of, "Bro, you told on me, that's not cool." When Pete leaks the Vegas trip to Allison.
I felt that, like 40 y/o Virgin, Knocked up ran long. And while I can think of multiple scenes to trim from Virgin, the mushroom/Vegas trip is the only unenecessary scene in KU.
Thoughts?

Reel Fanatic said...

Although I'm with you on the finking part being fairly contrived, Jeremy, I really enjoyed watching all of the Vegas trip, and thought the Cirque du Soleil scene was very funny ... Maybe it's just because I like Rudda and Rogen so much, but it really didn't seem too long to me

M said...

Great review! You managed to take all of my thoughts and make them MUCH clearer ;-)

Isn't it just spectacular?! I ended up going Friday AND Saturday to take a few new friends and it just got better the second time. My friends in New York were surprised I had liked it so much to which I said I could go back a 3rd time with them. What a perfect cast, and such a well written and acted film. I would LOVE to see this recognized at awards season. I seem to remember everyone arguing that "Virgin" should have been, but this to me is is MUCH more deserving.

Glad I could help you remember you Paul Rudd obsession!

Reel Fanatic said...

Comedies are so often overlooked during awards season, but I'm definitely with you that this one would be worthy ... I think its best bets would probably in the area of original screenplay, or possibly a supporting actor nod for Mr. Rudd (though that would have to be a really dark horse)

Marina said...

I really enjoyed "Knocked Up" but I have to admit that a little part of me was disappointed that so many of the punch lines were given away in the trailer. Sure, I still laughed hard but those moments, which should have been SO thoroughly hysterical just made me giggle.

M said...

With all the love last year for "Little Miss Sunshine" I think this movie is FAR more deserving. I enjoyed "Sunshine" but as a whole I found "Knocked Up" to be a much more poignant and touching comedy. I would LOVE to see Seth Rogan get some love although I know that will never ever ever ever happen. I found him to be so loveable throughout yet he had the great scene in the doctors office where he and Heigel scream at each other and the moment he says "it's a girl, buy something pink" and then walks out was great. I also loved his phone conversation with his dad when he was admitting how lost he was. Am I crazy for wanting to go see this movie a THIRD time?!

Reel Fanatic said...

I don't think that's crazy at all ... I've pretty much decided that I'm gonna see it for a second time this weekend, because I was laughing so hard that there were surely things I missed ... And I do know what you mean about the jokes being revealed beforehand, Marina .. I guess they just thought this needed an exhaustive marketing campaign to compete in this summer of familiar giants, and tney were probably right about that

Bob said...

Here here! Great review. Great movie. I couldn't have loved it more. I agree with you too in hoping that Apatow doesn't do what the new girl on "F&G" did. Between this, "Hot Fuzz," "Color Me Kubrick," "Fido," and "Waiter," (just saw it at the Seattle IFF last night) this is turning into an amazing year for comedies. Can't wait for "Eagle Vs. Shark," "Death at a Funeral" and "Superbad."

Reel Fanatic said...

You get to see a lot more movies in first-run than I get to in this little corner of the world, Bob, but I have to agree with you that we're certainly on a good streak when it comes to comedy .. That trailer for Superbad, especially with the "McLovin" ID, just slays me

Bob said...

I wish good movies got wider releases. It's a shame that more people don't get the opportunity to see things like "Waiter." I know how fortunate I am to be near Seattle and have the chance to see so many. Hopefully someone will realize that there are people everywhere who want to see them. From what I can gather you would probably love "Waiter." And "Fido" is getting released soon, so hopefully it will show up down your way. Excellent movie!

Lynetta Gray said...

That bouncer part was freakin hilarious! I can't believe people thought that the women were 'short-shifted' I think the women were strong, likable characters, that made their own decisions and tried to live by them!

~Lynetta Gray

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Andrea said...

Nice movie. This movie made me laugh till the end and I still remember the day when I saw this movie. AT many time this movie was really very sweet and cheesy that can easily impress most of the audience.
Knocked Up