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.
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Posted by Reel Fanatic at 5:38 AM