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Frat Pack Tribute Movie Review: Knocked Up

DVD Review

Official Website and Synopsis

www.knockedupmovie.com and www.myspace.com/knockedupmovie

Allison Scott (Katherine Heigl) is an up-and-coming entertainment journalist whose 24-year-old life is on the fast track. But it gets seriously derailed when a drunken one-nighter with slacker Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) results in an unwanted pregnancy. Faced with the prospect of going it alone or getting to know the baby's father, Allison decides to give the lovable doof a chance.

An overgrown kid who has no desire to settle down, Ben learns that he has a big decision to make with his kid's mom-to-be: will he hit the road or stay in the picture? Courting a woman you've just Knocked Up, however, proves to be a little difficult when the two try their hands at dating. As they discover more about one another, it becomes painfully obvious that they're not the soul mates they'd hoped they might be.

With Allison's harried sister Debbie (Leslie Mann) and hen-pecked brother-in-law Pete (Paul Rudd) the only parenting role models the young lovers have, things get even more confusing. Should they raise the baby together? What makes a happy lifetime partnership after all? A couple of drinks and one wild night later, they've got nine confusing months to figure it out...

Written and Directed by Judd Apatow

Review

Review by Rick Duran

In Knocked Up, Judd Apatow successfully walks a tightrope keeping an even balance between raunchy laughs and sweet natured charm. The film clocks in at two hours and 9 minutes, unthinkable for a studio comedy, yet the talented ensemble, lead with perfection by Seth Rogen, carries every minute of this film.

Rogen stars as Ben Stone, a stoner hoping to launch a celebrity nudity website, with his likeminded roommates (Jay Baruchel, Jonah Hill, Jason Segel and Martin Starr.) Katherine Heigl plays Alison Scott, a production assistant at E! News, who lives with her sister Debbie and brother-in-law Pete (Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd.) After receiving a promotion to on-air talent, Alison celebrates at an L.A. nightclub and crosses paths with Ben. The two progress to a drunken hookup in Alison's room where Ben mistakes her frustration with his inability to open a condom wrapper for permission to have unsafe sex. The remainder of the film chronicles the next nine months of their lives as Allison has become knocked up.

The unplanned pregnancy premise and traditional "boy meets girl, boy loses girl" storyline have been done countless times, yet Apatow and Co. have made a fresh and fun take on the material. First off, this is not Nine Months or Fools Rush In. Ben's roommates are crass, stoned and more profane than the Smart Tech Crew. Lines about pube-covered turds and fart prank pinkeye won't make for traditional date movie fare. However, this isn't The 40 Year-Old Virgin, either. In Apatow's previous directing effort, the first hour focused on buddy comedy dynamics while the second introduced the romance story arc. This time around, Apatow follows a tighter script structure that places the Heigl/Rogen scenes just as early as the stoner pals sequences. However, one of the script's most interesting aspects is having the Mann/Rudd relationship (which includes two daughters and fears of aging) parallel that of the Heigl/Rogen's new pregnant couple.

A two hour-plus runtime is a stretch for any comedy, and the Mann/Rudd scenes do detract from the basic pregnancy storyline. However, Apatow has wisely chosen to keep certain scenes revolving around Mann and Rudd's characters as they provide for two of the film's biggest crowd-pleasing performances. First off, Leslie Mann emerges as the MVP of this film. Her paranoid yet vicious Debbie is one of the strongest female comedic performances of the decade, perfectly showcased in one standoff scene with a club bouncer (played by The Office's Craig Robinson.) Hats off to the studio execs for allowing Apatow to keep these scenes, despite veering away from the main plot. Paul Rudd turns in yet another smarmy yet boyish performance as Mann's husband. While the role is primarily based on reactions for the first half of the film, Rudd's character comes to life once both Pete and Ben's relationships hit rough patches. Once Rudd and Rogen have a drug-fueled Vegas romp, we are treated to some of the best male screen chemistry since Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn in Wedding Crashers. Obviously a pregnancy film doesn't allow for many buddy comedy scenes, but their late second act romp is enough to warrant these two actors at least 3 more films together.

As for Seth Rogen losing his lead role virginity, it's no secret that the guy is funny. He displays a calm charisma, even when simply laughing while taking bong hits wearing a gas mask. But the most surprising element from Rogen's performance is how well he handles the dramatic argument scenes, which are heavier than the ones Apatow wrote for Virgin. It's difficult to imagine Adam Sandler, Owen Wilson, Jack Black or other comedians associated with stoner humor tackling Knocked Up's intense gynecologist office fight between Ben and Alison. Once Rogen is forced to face his man-child insecurities, the execution is not forced. The aforementioned dramatic confrontations allow us to believe Ben truly has grown up, especially when left to guide Alison's labor.

If there's one aspect missing, it's a connection to Heigl's character. As often the case with playing the straight character, we aren't give much background to Alison nor given a fair understanding of her life beyond sister interactions and two or three brief scenes at work. However, Heigl's actual performance holds over well, never veering towards too sweet or snobby. She seemingly dives into Ben's slacker life with minimum hesitation at first. It would have been nice to know her character a little better to fully believe how she could transcend from an upscale lifestyle to a room full of pornography entrepreneurs wisecracking about Starr's beard.

Judd Apatow's Knocked Up caters evenly to audiences open to romantic and foul-mouthed comedy. The divide is so equal, viewers seeking only one of those specific humors might leave unfulfilled. However, the dialogue and performances by the entire cast (including numerous cameos by the likes of Steve Carell, Kristin Wiig, Ryan Seacrest, Harold Ramis, James Franco and Bill Hader among others) are so sharp that the film defies the limitations of comedy labels. Knocked Up is officially Apatow's second directorial classic in a row, showing that a mainstream comedy's primary cast does not need A-List players (though Rogen and Rudd are clearly headed for such status.) Much of the humor is not as broad as 40 Year-Old Virgin's; there is no chest waxing or Date-A-Palooza. Yet the laughs are frequent and big, even during the fights and breakdowns. Truth be told, for a film with many dramatic moments, there are more frequent laughs in Knocked Up than Blades of Glory. Perhaps not as broad as in that comedy, and definitely more crass, but the wit is very consistent. Perhaps Knocked Up will play better to The Break-Up's audience rather than Blades, but it's still one of the best films made by Apatow and his ever-expanding comedy clique.

Interviews with Knocked Up Stars

Our Los Angeles Correspondent Rick Duran attended the Knocked Up Press Junket. We have transcripts and audio from the interviews.

Movie Posters - Domestic A, B

          

Domestic Trailer - R-Rated and All-Audiences Versions

International Teaser Trailer

Focuses on the scene where Rogen's character learns he going to be a daddy. We like the graphical design of the movie title and swimming sperm. But we really like some of the great lines that we'll be quoting all summer.

Movie Poster - International

      

Photo Gallery

Knocked Up Fan Art Contest

We held a Knocked Up Fan Art Contest and had some great entries. Here are a few of the better entries.

Our winner Adam "Andy Stitzer" Stevenson used the Knocked Up website to create a baby with Leslie Mann!

Rick Duran put together a really neat "morph" (there's also a larger 5 MB version)

Becky created a montage of images (larger version)

Karen Pok did her usual magic to create these South Park-style images.